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Work begins on $140m Dubai project

An Irish property developer who moved to Dubai in 2009 has broken ground on a $140 million office block that will be a regional base for Standard Chartered Bank in the United Arab Emirates.

Jim Osborne, who was previously involved in Irish development firm Castleway, is chief operating officer of Gulf Resources Development and Investment (GRDI), which started the Dubai project last week.

Osborne is responsible for the day-to-day running of the company, which he set up with lo cal businessman Mohammed Salem AlMenhali.

The 253,000-square-foot building will have 13 office floors and four car parking floors with more than 500 spaces.

Standard Chartered is taking a 15-year lease on about 60 per cent of the office space, and plans to move 1,200 staff into the building in October next year. It will also include a Standard Chartered bank branch at ground level.

The ground-breaking for the Dubai project was attended by Peter Sands, the group chief executive of Standard Chartered, who described it as a ‘‘strategic investment’’ by the bank. It was also attended by Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline. The development is being financed by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

It is understood that GRDI has a partnership with Standard Chartered Bank to develop buildings in several countries.

The firm confirmed it was in advanced discussions with several banking and industrial groups about developing buildings for them.

The initiatives are backed by a number of sovereign wealth funds in the region.

Osborne said that GRDI had a total development pipeline with an end value of more than $300 million.

As well as the Dubai office building, the company is working on a hotel and retail development in Damascus, anchored by a City Seasons Hotel, and an office and logistics facility for a US Fortune 100 conglomerate.

Osborne said the firm hoped to be developing five million square feet of building space by the end of 2015.

‘‘Wherever there is a dramatic correction, there are opportunities,” he said. ‘‘In a world where supply outstrips demand, consulting with clients and developing bespoke solutions is the future for commercial property.”

Before moving to Dubai, Osborne was a shareholder and senior executive at Castleway, owned by developer John McCann.

The company owns a large amount of property in Ireland, including several business parks. It bought a business park in Philadelphia in 2007 and also paid $37 million for a site in the US city, which has yet to be developed.

However, a dispute between McCann and Osborne over Osborne’s shareholding in Castleway resulted in a High Court case in 2009.

The final parts of the case were settled earlier this year.

Osborne, who also previously held senior positions at Garret Kelleher’s Shelbourne Developments, is still a shareholder in the two Philadelphia properties.

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