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[Solid Masonry] Creating A Soft Landing (Its Sand)

John Philip Mason is a residential appraiser with 20 years experience and covers the Hudson Valley region of New York. He’s a good friend and a true professional who believes that all appraisers need to have a macro-economic perspective in order to be effective. This week, he tells us to pound sand because someone IS making land in Solid Masonry. …Jonathan Miller


The old saying “they ain’t making any more of it,” as in land, is no longer true, at least not in Dubai. There are a series of massive projects underway in this small territory of the United Arab Emirates and many of these mega-projects include the creation of land, literally. Over the years most of the development, as in many other countries, has been most intense along the coastline and taken up much of the available land. So Dubai, no stranger to thinking big, came up with something huge. They are creating man made islands, by the hundreds. In a somewhat dated but informative write-up on MSNBC.com, you’ll find Arab Island Resorts Are Reshaping Geography [1], a pretty amazing story of this colossal undertaking in a small country capable of generating vast sums of wealth, without oil. For a nice collection of photos and artists’ renditions you might want to check out either privateislandsonline.com [2], militaryphotos.net [3] or Google Earth [4] (which requires downloading the free or enhanced program).

The process involves dumping large boulders on the seabed floor until they pile up and crest the surf, topped by a layer of sand dredged off the sea floor, all wrapped in plastic stabilizers. No small feat, but to create even more drama is the fact that these hundreds of islands are positioned in the shape of several palm trees and a map of the world. Fittingly, they have been given names such as The Palm Jumeirah, The Palm Jebel Ali, The Palm Deira and The World. To give you some perspective, when completed these projects will increase Dubai’s beachfront tenfold. Each of the mega-projects ranges from 12 to 31 square miles of newly created land, with the palm fronds stretching almost a mile each. In total there will be some 20,000 homes and apartments, with 75% of the buyers from outside of the country. This destination hot spot for the rich and famous, or at least for those pretending to be, will offer over 100 world class hotels including one built completely under water.

While projects of this size are not without controversy (is anything these days), one has to admire the optimism and scope of such efforts. I personally get tired just thinking about raking my leaves. As for The World, the developers report that over 50% of the islands are sold, at prices up to 40 million dollars (US). At The Palm Jumeirah some individual lots and homes have been purchased and resold several times, despite none having been completed. Based on such figures one would have to believe that, so far, this is a successful venture. Throughout the ages, in good markets and in bad, real estate has always been about seeing limitations vs. opportunities. So while some of us believed they weren’t making any more of it, others say if you build it they will come.