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Work begins on $1bn housing and hotel tower project on Abu Dhabi's Al Maryah island

Taiwan's largest listed property developer Farglory has become the first overseas developer to break ground on Abu Dhabi's Al Maryah island, whose master planner is Mubadala Real Estate.

In a ceremony yesterday the Farglory chairman Chao Teng-Hsiung oversaw the groundbreaking of the first phase of the Taiwan company's long-awaited US$1 billion housing and hotel tower project.

The Richard Rogers-designed Maryah Plaza as the project has been named will eventually comprise 153,000 square metres to be arranged in four glass and steel towers. Farglory originally announced the project in 2010 when it planned to develop the project as super-luxury flats designed to compete with One Hyde Park in London and Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

However, the developer said that since then it had redesigned Maryah Plaza to make it more affordable because of changed economic conditions.

Three of the towers will house about 435 luxury apartments. The other tower will comprise 180 hotel rooms, while the project will also include 42,000 sq metres of offices and serviced apartments. The project will be developed in three phases, with the first tower of 135 flats comprising a total of 32,000 sq metres and with 65,000 sq metres of car parking space, expected to complete by early 2016.

Farglory said it would look to sell all of the apartments on the open market rather than retaining any for rent. An official sales launch is scheduled to take place in the third quarter of the year, when the developer will reveal prices.

"Giving its prime location, a very similar comparable in the world in terms of property is the Burj Khalifa and One Hyde Park to give you an idea of what we are looking for this premium luxury waterfront living," Mr Chao told The National.

"One Hyde Park was targeted at billionaires because of the sizes of the apartments. However, what I'm trying to do is to create what I like to call 'affordable luxury'. I'm taking a luxury product for people so that they can afford to live in a style similar to One Hyde Park but without the high price."

Apartments will be sized at 80 sq metres for a one-bedroom apartment; two-bedroom apartments will comprise 150 sq metres and three bedrooms will be about 220 sq metres. Five penthouses will range from 400 to 800 sq metres.

"The apartments are much smaller but the quality is the same. At One Hyde Park the units were so big so you were spending about £50 million [Dh282.9m] but now we can bring the sizes down to make it affordable for more people."

Farglory said it was spending between US$750m and $800m on developing Maryah Plaza, including land costs, and that it had enough cash on its books to develop the entire project without relying on off-plan sales. The company bought four plots of land in 2010 on Al Maryah, Mubadala's planned new central business district for Abu Dhabi. The news comes as a boost to the multibillion-dirham island project, which earlier this year was announced as the location for Abu Dhabi's first financial free zone.

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