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July 18, 2018

Retailers on Palm Jumeirah’s Golden Mile in Dubai stuck in four-year limbo

 Dozens of retailers intending to open outlets on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah have been left in limbo as a four-year legal row rumbles on.

Now many are hoping that a much-anticipated decision from the Dubai World Tribunal could breathe fresh life into an empty strip of ghost shops along the island’s Golden Mile.

Supermarkets and restaurants are among retailers that have been waiting years to move in to the Golden Mile development on the trunk of the artificial island.

The Golden Mile, a joint venture between Kuwait’s IFA Hotels and Resorts and Istithmar, was launched in 2005 to feature residential apartments as well as retail and office space.

But the development has become embroiled in a convoluted legal row that hinges on whether Nakheel ever committed to acquiring the retail space along the strip.

Palm Jumeirah’s master developer Nakheel brought a lawsuit against Souq Residences at the Dubai World Tribunal in 2010. Souq Residences is a joint venture between Kuwait’s IFA Hotels and Resorts and the Dubai World subsidiary Istithmar.

IFA began signing leases on the Golden Mile in 2011 and a spokeswoman confirmed it continues to sign agreements, with three more currently under negotiation.

Currently, 27 retailers are waiting to open. They include the supermarket chain Waitrose, Beyond the Beach, Starbucks, the restaurant Wagamama, Mothercare, Pinkberry, Boots, Party Zone, Loft Fifth Avenue, N Style and Drs Nicolas and Asp Medical and Dental. They signed contracts with Souq Residences.

But separate legal proceedings under way at the Dubai World Tribunal as well as the Dubai International Arbitration Centre need to be resolved before they can move in.

While the master developer Nakheel plans to build a major mall in the centre of the island as well as more retail outlets on The Pointe, The Palm has experienced little retail development since the first residents started to move into their homes more than seven years ago.

“People there are looking for cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and salons,” said Jacob Hrayki, who started Loft Fifth Avenue Salons in 2008. He signed a contract for the space two years ago.

Steven Holbrook, the chief executive at retailers Al Boom Marine, signed a lease around four years ago.

“We would love to get in and hope the issue would be resolved soon, but if not it will be a shame.”

He hopes to get his deposit back if he is unable to open an outlet on the island.

Dr Elhami Nicolas, the founder of Drs Nicolas & Asp medical centres, which has six branches in Dubai, has paid a month’s deposit for an office space at the Golden Mile.

“We have many patients on the Palm,,” Dr Nicolas said. “We are still interested, but we have been waiting too for [the project] to materialise.”

Nakheel has no contractual agreement with these retailers, said a spokeswoman, referring to tenants who had signed leases on the development. “We suggest they follow up with whoever they signed their leasing agreement.”

The US$27.21 million lawsuit was brought by Nakheel against Souq Residences. The master developer paid Souq Residences Dh100m in 2008. Nakheel claims the purchase was eventually aborted but it has not been compensated for the payment it made. A lawyer representing Souq Residences declined to comment.

The first dispute before Dubai World Tribunal concerns whether Nakheel agreed to purchase retail space from Souq Residences on the Golden Mile development. This hinges on whether a document signed by the pair in 2008 was a binding contract.

According to court documents and another proceeding initiated by Souq in 2010, the company claims that the two companies signed a contract.

Nakheel’s Dh100m payment was part of that plan and seeks the balance of the purchase price less the Dh100m.

Nakheel denies the claim, saying it provided the amount as funding for Souq Residences. A second dispute concerned Souq’s request for compliance certificate from the master developer for buildings 5 and 6 at the Golden Mile. Without it, Souq could not obtain building completion certificates for them – preventing the company from handing over units to buyers. A trial in February ruled against Nakheel and it was ordered to issue the compliance certificates. It did do so, and Souq is completing the sale of residential units in buildings 5 and 6 of the Golden Mile.

The parties to the Dubai World Tribunal are still awaiting judgement on the remaining issues.

ssahoo@thenational.ae

 

Copyrights © 2014 Abu Dhabi Media Company, All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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Retailers on Palm Jumeirah’s Golden Mile in Dubai stuck in four-year limbo

Special Report: As seas rise, a slow-motion disaster gnaws at U.S. shores

By Ryan McNeill, Deborah J. Nelson and Duff Wilson

SAXIS, Virginia (Reuters) – Chincoteague is the gateway to a national wildlife refuge blessed with a stunning mile-long beach – a major tourist draw and source of big business for the community.

But the beach has been disappearing at an average rate of 10 to 22 feet a year, as a warming planet and other forces lift sea levels. The access road and parking lot have been rebuilt five times in the past decade because of coastal flooding, at a total cost of $3 million.

Officials who run Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge say they face a losing battle against rising sea levels. In 2010, they proposed to move the beach to a safer spot, shrink the parking lot, and shuttle in tourists by bus.

The town revolted. Chincoteague wants the federal government to continue to rebuild rather than retreat. Four years on, after a series of angry public meetings, the sea keeps eating the shore, and the government keeps spending to fix the damage.

The people of Chincoteague are engaged in a battle at the water’s edge against rising seas. All along U.S. shores, people, businesses and governments are confronting rising seas not as a future possibility. For them, the ocean’s rise is a troubling everyday reality.

Reuters gathered more than 25 million hourly readings from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tide gauges at nearly 70 sites on the U.S. coast and compared them to flood thresholds documented by the National Weather Service.

The analysis was then narrowed to include only the 25 gauges with data spanning at least five decades. During that period, the average number of days a year that tidal waters reached or exceeded NOAA flood thresholds increased at all but two sites and tripled at more than half of the locations.

The coastal flooding is often minor. Its cumulative consequences are not. As flooding increases in both height and frequency, it exacts a toll in closed businesses, repeated repairs, and investment in protection. In effect, higher seas make the same level of storm and even the same high tides more damaging than they used to be.

In Charleston, South Carolina, a six-lane highway floods when high tides prevent storm water from draining into the Atlantic, making it difficult for half the town’s 120,000 residents to get to three hospitals and police headquarters.

In Annapolis, Maryland, home to the U.S. Naval Academy, half a foot of water flooded the colonial district, a National Historic Landmark, at high tide on Chesapeake Bay during rainstorms on April 30, May 1, May 16 and Aug. 12.

Engineers say there are three possible responses to rising waters: undertake coastal defense projects; adapt with actions like raising roads; or abandon land to the sea. Lacking a national strategy, the United States applies these measures haphazardly.

Congress actually recognized global warming way back in 1978 with passage of the National Climate Program Act. The law aimed to “assist the Nation and the world to understand and respond to natural and man-induced climate processes and their implications.”

But after $47 billion in direct federal spending on climate change research, Congress hasn’t passed a major piece of legislation to deal specifically with the effects of rising sea levels.

“In the U.S., you have best data set on what’s happening in the world, and yet it’s not used in public policy,” said Robert Nicholls, professor of coastal engineering at the University of Southampton in England and a contributor to the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The lack of clear policy is evident in Chincoteague, population 3,000.

Most visitors come for the mile of ocean-facing public recreational beach, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge. Visitors can drive with all of their gear right up to the edge of the beach to park in a 1,000-space crushed-shell lot.

As erosion worsened, the cost to American taxpayers of repeated destruction of the parking lot and causeway from rising sea levels would only increase, Fish and Wildlife officials said. In 2010, the agency proposed moving the beach to a less-endangered site.

Town leaders pointed to a survey in which 80 percent of visitors said they would not continue coming to the beach if they had to park in town and take a shuttle. Residents also feared that Fish and Wildlife would let the southern end of Assateague Island erode away if the beach were moved.

A series of angry meetings with local Fish and Wildlife officials resolved nothing.

In 2012, Chincoteague got a hearing at the U.S. Capitol on the proposal. Wanda Thornton, an Accomack county supervisor, testified that local residents feared for their jobs.

The agency released a draft plan in May that would relocate the beach to the less unstable site, but keep the parking area at its current size, as long as there’s enough land to do so. As many residents feared, this plan would not replenish the sand at the southern end of Assateague or at the new site as they erode.

A public hearing in Chincoteague on June 26 failed to settle the matter.

(This is an abridged version of a special report. The full package, including unabridged text, interactive graphics and video, is on Reuters.com at http://reut.rs/1nyd8pK )

(Edited by John Blanton)

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Special Report: As seas rise, a slow-motion disaster gnaws at U.S. shores

Google's latest project: mapping small gas leaks in US cities

Google Street View cars outfitted with special sensors have identified hundreds of small but steady methane leaks lying beneath the streets in three US cities.

The specially equipped cars drove the streets of Boston, Staten Island, and Indianapolis sniffing out minor gas leaks for a pilot mapping project in conjunction with the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund and local utility companies. EDF released the findings online Wednesday, along with a set of interactive maps.

The leaks identified by this study do not represent a safety threat but do add up to a large volume of smog-inducing, greenhouse gas emissions, EDF chief scientist Steven Hamburg told reporters during a media briefing about the pilot program Wednesday.

Recommended: Think you know the odd effects of global climate change? Take our quiz.

While utilities are federally mandated to address large gas leaks that pose hazards to property and people, smaller, chronic leaks typically fall by the wayside until the pipes can be fully replaced, Mr. Hamburg said.

“This work creates an important tool for helping to understand where the largest of these leaks are and where the dollars that are being spent to modernize and upgrade gas systems can best be utilized,” Hamburg said.

National Grid, a utility company that operates pipelines in Boston and Staten Island, plans to use the data gathered through this pilot program to prioritize replacement of aging pipelines, Susan Fleck, National Grid’s Vice President of Pipeline Safety, told reporters during the briefing.

The problem appears to be particularly pervasive in cities with aging infrastructure. In Boston and Staten Island – both of which rely on many pipes that are more than 50 years old – the sensors detected an average of one leak per every mile driven. Many cities in the Northeast rely on similarly aging infrastructures. By contrast, Indianapolis – which has invested heavily in updated natural gas pipes – yielded an average of just one leak per 200 miles driven.

For its part, Massachusetts adopted a uniform classification system for prioritizing repairs of leaks in natural gas pipelines in a new law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick (D) on July 7. The EDF report highlights this law as a point of progress in developing a process to plan and fund long-term pipeline upgrades.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that can have a short-term impact on climate up to 120 times greater than carbon dioxide, says Louis Derry, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Over the long term, however, methane is not a major factor in altering climate because it persists in the atmosphere for only 10 to 20 years, he says.

“Even if methane is not a major climate player, curbing emissions is the right thing to do because it will reduce the danger of small leaks growing into larger, more dangerous leaks and will help to improve overall air quality,” Professor Derry says. (Methane is a contributing factor in the formation of ozone and smog.)

The release of these findings in a user-friendly format could help to secure public buy-in for costly infrastructure improvements, Derry suggests.

Replacing pipelines “is expensive, nobody wants to pay for it, and nobody wants to have their street dug up,” he explains. The visualizations offered by the EDF maps could persuade the public to put up with rate increases and the nuisance of lengthy construction projects to overhaul corroding pipelines.

The most encouraging aspect of this study, Derry says, is its role as an illustration of the technological leap in sensing capabilities. Until just a few years ago, these measurements would have been collected by hand and individually processed in the laboratory, he says. Today, for about $50,000, researchers can affix a sensor capable of taking a reading every second to the roof of a car or the wing of an airplane.

“This is a highly, cost-effective way to cover large areas that just wasn’t possible a few years ago,” he says. That capability could be used to follow up in an area where pipes have been replaced to see whether the replacement was effective in curbing emissions. It could also be employed to measure other emissions such as water vapor or carbon dioxide.

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Google's latest project: mapping small gas leaks in US cities