Golden Gate is a twin-tower development comprising 746 luxury apartments, from studios to three bedrooms, in Bahrain Bay. When complete, these 45- and 53-storey residential towers will be among the tallest in this country. The project is a joint venture between Bahrain-based Kooheji Golden Gate and Indian developer companies Ajmera Realty and Mayfair Housing. Arabian Homes met Manoj Ajmera, MD of Ajmera Realty, and Nayan Shah, CEO of Mayfair Housing, when they visited Bahrain from Mumbai last month.
The Golden Gate development in Bahrain Bay is a collaboration between Kooheji Golden Gate, Ajmera Realty and Mayfair Housing. Arabian Homes met the men behind this project during a recent meeting in Manama
How did the Golden Gate project idea evolve?
Nayan Shah: Manoj and I were looking for partners here for a long time. We both do much bigger projects than this in Mumbai but we wanted a local partner for this development.
Prior to that, our team of market researchers surveyed more than 57 projects in Bahrain, making a list of what facilities were within the good buildings. We wanted to ensure that our project should win the day on every single thing. The view is the most important aspect in the project. It took us almost two years to come up with the design.
How did the JV between Kooheji, Mayfair Housing and Ajmera come about?
NS: Our chemistry automatically matched, because we share the same sort of culture, which is rooted in family. Manoj and I are old family friends and we decided we wanted to expand beyond India. The Middle East was our first port of call. Bahrain has many clear advantages for us – the family life here, and the fact that most people who live here don’t want to leave. It is a very small place, so if you do good work you will be noticed and everyone will talk about it.
How did the project draw on your respective professional experiences?
NS: It drew on all of our experiences, Kooheji’s as well. One obvious example is that we did the huge market survey, finding out everything from why is this or that project selling or not, to how wide the balcony should be. We decided to create two towers because to build one very tall tower would take about five years, whereas this build will take about 36 months. People can’t be expected to wait too long for their property.
Who designed this two-tower project?
Manoj Ajmera: Aref Sadeq. We spoke to many architects but in the end, we were happy for a local person to design it. Aref understands the needs of local people.
What was the architectural vision driving the design?
NS: Fundamentally Bahrain is a trading place, with a tradition of business and pearling and the great history of the Dilmun civilisation 5,000 years ago. If you see the design of Bahrain Bay, it calls to mind the crown of a peacock – it’s very romantic, very cultural and ethnic, a wonderful fusion. The placement of the Golden Gate towers is intended to suggest two dhows going out to sea, travelling together. That was the architectural vision driving the exteriors – modern, contemporary, ethnic. Internally it will be wonderful for people to live in and enjoy.
Has its location in Bahrain Bay had any impact?
MA: Bahrain Bay is one of the best waterfront developments in the world, plus its position in the heart of Manama and the city, with good access to the airport, and its corporate nature; all this makes it very stable. Golden Gate has one of the premium locations within Bahrain Bay.
NS: When we met His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, he unfolded Vision 2030 to us. Currently, Bahrain Bay looks as if it is at the “end” of Manama, but the Vision 2030 locates it at the centre. The infrastructure makes it well connected. You can walk to work from here. It is mostly a commercial area – almost 50,000 people are going to work here, and they will want to stay close by.
What do you think marks out Golden Gate as particularly special as compared to other mixed-use developments within Bahrain?
NS: Our view is that we never compare ourselves to other developers. Every development is unique, and I cannot say any one is better or lesser than us. What we realised here is that there is a demand for Bahraini and International clients who want value-for-money homing at the right place and in the right location. We are unique in what we offer.
We’ve read about the Exclusive Concierge service – could you tell us about it?
MA: This idea is still evolving. Our thought process is that it’s common today for both husband and wife to work, everyone is very busy, it’s difficult for people to manage their time and there are too many things to do during the weekend. So we are trying to make life easier for everyone with this service. It will work round the clock, taking care of monthly groceries, picking up and delivering laundry, flowers and presents, sourcing tickets, reserving tables, issuing reminders of birthdays and anniversaries, servicing cars and so on. We want to introduce a water taxi as well. We are trying to get all these facilities, from luxury to everyday, so that it has the feel of a serviced apartment to the home buyer.
When will handover of the units begin?
MA: Although there are two towers, this is a one-phase project. We began initially by selling the first tower. The development is targeted for completion in 42 months, and I think by the end of 2021, we should be handing over.
Can any nationality buy in this development, or are they only available to GCC nationals?
MA: These freehold apartments are available to any nationality. We have found that many Arab families have own funds which are managed by one family member, and it has given us a lot of happiness when people like this have bought on behalf of their families. It shows that they trust us and our product.
Who are you targeting as buyers for this development?
NS: We are targeting end-users as well as people who want to rent here. We have not yet launched in Saudi or Kuwait, but we are happy that many Bahraini locals like this project.
What is the price range of apartments?
MA: Our cost starts at BD 740 per sqm and the prices range from BD52,000 for a studio up to BD156,000 or BD179,000 for a three-bedroom apartment.
What are the annual community maintenance fees?
MA: Facility management is approximately 800 fils per month per square metre, and district cooling costs are around 400 fils per square metre per month.
How many are sold already?
MA: It’s a good number, about what we expected. We can proudly say that half of the buyers so far are local people.
Are you providing financing facilities?
MA: Yes, we have tied up with local banks. Our project is approved by several local banks and they are giving buyers their own deals.
Do the units come furnished or unfurnished?
MA: The units come semi-furnished. For instance, cupboards are provided; in the kitchen, appliances are included. There is also an option for buying the units furnished – we have tied up with a good interior designer.
Can new owners change room layouts within their unit?
MA: The layouts have been planned very carefully, taking into account the usable area.
Can you list the amenities available for the tenants?
MA: The list is huge. We have more than 26 facilities. There are gyms for men and women, Jacuzzi, steam rooms, saunas, table tennis, pool table, squash court, massage chair, a recreation area offering classes from yoga to step, jogging track, indoor and outdoor swimming pools for adults and children, a pharmacy, salon, florist, coffee shop, library/reading room, a mini-theatre and business centre.
What are the parking facilities like?
NS: Every apartment has its own parking space or spaces – there are 999 parking spaces. We have an additional 220 car parking spaces available. There is also a valet parking service.
Will the owners be required to have home/apartment insurance?
NS: I believe insurance is important. In this case, most buyers will be taking out a home loan, for which the bank automatically requires them to take out insurance.
Other developers are competing for buyers. Do you think Bahrain’s property market is strong enough to take many more residential developments?
NS: It’s our experience that behind the best residential developments are many years of research. People might think it is just a simple matter of buying land, designing and building and then handing over the keys, but a lot of judgement goes into good development. Apartments that are well thought out are always in demand, just as there are many movies but there’s always room for new good movies, for example.
Copyright Arabian Homes 2019