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DHA takes over: Crescent Bay project on the rocks

KARACHI: The Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority (DHA) and the Dubai-based international construction giant Emaar are at loggerheads over the much-advertised and much-delayed 108-acre Crescent Bay project in DHA Phase VIII’s waterfront zone E.

DHA has filed a petition against four companies — Emaar Giga International FZCO, Emaar Giga Karachi Limited, Emaar Properties PJSC and CEO Global Marketing Services (GMS) Shaukat Qureshi — in the Sindh High Court. It won a stay order on June 27 until the next hearing scheduled for July 12, The Express Tribune has learnt.
DHA and Emaar Giga International had signed a memorandum of understanding on May 20, 2004 to construct 46 towers in three ‘uniquely designed’ bays.

According to Emaar Pakistan’s website, each of these three bays was to be “encircled by a community with its own unique look and character, which extends from the architecture to the landscaping and the street furniture.” Crescent Bay One was set to feature a hotel, malls, a waterfront promenade, piazza, four office towers, surrounded by green spaces, parks and plazas. Crescent Bay Two was to house residential towers complete with a Waterfront Retail Arcade running along the beach. Crescent Bay Three was termed the most exclusive of the residential neighborhoods, with controlled vehicle access, and a luxurious waterfront promenade.

However, even though more than seven years have passed since the deal was inked, DHA contends that only two towers and that too only till the second floor have been constructed, even though Emaar has collected more than Rs1.5 billion from its customers in advance.

Moreover, out of the 110 people who were allotted plots in Crescent Bay, 100 of them are in litigation against Emaar and many of them are demanding their money back.

Sources in DHA said that their beef with Emaar was not only due to the fact that the international construction giant owes it Rs600 million, but also because “it was trying to create a DHA within DHA.”

DHA maintains that Emaar was trying to “clandestinely” sell Crescent Bay plots without its permission to “unauthorised parties.” The authority says it was “shocked” to learn through a letter on June 13, 2011 from CEO GMS Qureshi that his marketing company was working with Emaar Giga Karachi for the last 15 months to sell land that had been sub-let by DHA.

On June 25, 2011 DHA officers discovered GMS staff taking measurements and dimensions of the land, which the regulatory body believes was in clear violation of its agreement that mentions that no sale can move ahead unless DHA approves it. DHA immediately removed the GMS personnel from the site and took over possession of the land and the Crescent Bay project itself in “public interest”. It now wants to undertake construction of the two towers which, according to them, Emaar has abandoned.

Senior officials with DHA told The Express Tribune that it was extremely unfortunate that Emaar has not completed its commitments to the people, especially since there were huge expectations from them, given their expertise and long list of successful projects. Although DHA’s experience in mega construction projects is negligible compared to Emaar’s, it believes that with its experience of Creek Vista in Karachi, it can take off from where the international construction stopped.

Crescent Bay senior manager projects Adnan Qureshi was repeatedly contacted for comment but he declined to say anything. A senior representative of Emaar Pakistan from Islamabad told The Express Tribune, however, that the issue was “really minute” and had nothing to do with the Crescent Bay Project. According to the representative who wished not be named, Emaar Pakistan is here to stay in Pakistan and all reports that it is planning to abandon its projects were false. He said Emaar Pakistan was working in partnership with DHA in Islamabad as well. It is true that some of the customers of Emaar’s Crescent Bay project have gone to court, but it was the customers who were at fault, and were greedy about claiming their money after investing only one per cent in the project.

He said that the delay in the project was only natural because of the large amount of land that had to be reclaimed. Another Emaar Pakistan representative in Karachi contradicted DHA’s claims and said that the Crescent Bay master plan was ready and with them.

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