As Beirut’s recently launched mega-developments slowly rise from their foundations, careful plans are being debated and re-evaluated to ensure that the new generation of luxury housing is topped with the sweetest cherry: the Penthouse. Executive takes a look at the particular decadence of some of Beirut’s upcoming “palaces within the city”.
Atop each of the three “sleek and elegant” towers that makeup 3Beirut, a forthcoming residential development by SV Properties near the Starco Center, sit penthouse duplexes of 1,300 square meters (sqm) each. To harmoniously blend with the exterior design and materials, Foster & Partners is also creating the interiors for all 150 apartments, a relatively new venture for the British firm.
“The client today is not only conscious about aesthetics, but also about functionality and green building concepts,” said Faris Smadi, chief executive officer of SV Properties and Construction. Catering to specific demands like larger wardrobe space and ceilings that reach five and a half meters, the collaboration aims to ensure the best use of space. “Especially with a larger unit, it’s important to achieve the perception of a higher ceiling by removing any light fixtures from the ceiling [and having light emanate from the walls].”
Folding glass panels open up to fully landscaped 180 sqm terraces — the landscape architect is Vladimir Djurovic, a long-time consultant for Solidere-area projects — while the pool area will be situated in the 900 sqm spa in Tower 2. Enlisting the help of Foster & Partners incurs “double or triple the fee [of a local designer]”. However, according to the architects their designs have added 20 percent to the finished product’s sales value on previous projects outside of Lebanon.
According to Smadi, one of the penthouses has already been sold while they do not expect the other two to be snapped up until a later stage of construction. “already over 40 percent of the project is sold… and we still have five years for construction to finish,” said Smadi, who added the two remaining penthouses are priced at over $12,000 per sqm.
The eight two-story penthouses, which will rest atop Saifi’s upcoming residential community, District//S, each offer high ceilings of moret han four meters, landscaped terraces and pools atop the attached, adjacent buildings. But perhaps the game-changing characteristic of the development is the sense of community it is striving for, with art and furniture galleries, restaurants and cafes lining pedestrian walkways and a grocery store just downstairs.
The main difference between the “elevated yet accessible” luxury residences is size, with the top story units ranging from 542 sqm to 924 sqm. Though smaller units always sell faster than larger ones (especially when sales are off-plan), and penthouses are going for around $10 million, the group has already secured two sales, with two more reserved for clients. Namir Cortas, chief executive officer of Saifi Modern, the Lebanese company that owns District//S, says that “as larger mortgages become available, developers like us who are used to people buying without financing… are seeing more [financing take place] today,” even for large units.
Two four-bedroom units on the 25th floor of Beirut Terraces offer unblocked views of Beirut’s urban skyline, seashore and mountains, with the floor-to-ceiling glass facade embracing the indoor/outdoor theme of this Herzog & de Meuron design, which sits across the street from the InterContinental Phoenicia Hotel. Though the sellable area is roughly 1,052 sqm for both, the terrace size differs, with one at 270 sqm and the other 451 sqm. A pool is on the first floor of the building. At $12,500 per sqm, the price tag of $13.15 million makes it one of the top-dollar abodes in town. By way of comparison, the last available penthouse in Marina Towers, spread 1,000 sqm over the 10th and 11th floors in Marina Court, has a serious negotiator flirting with the asking price of $7,400 per sqm, or $7.4 million, according to Stow Communications Manager Amal Khoury. Benchmark is offering the first ever iPad application for a real estate project in the region, allowing users to compare blueprints, unit size and features within the hotel-district development.
At the pinnacle of Beirut’s skyline is the upcoming 1,390 sqm duplex (including mezzanine), perched upon what will be the country’s tallest tower, Sama Beirut — a residential, office and retail development under construction in Ashrafieh costing more than $200 million. The amenities match the record-breaking views. In addition to a swimming pool, the spa atmosphere is enhanced by internal gardens and a pond surrounding a solarium studio, while entertainment is elevated to a whole new level with a 25 sqm home theatre.
According to Alain Bassoul, chief operating officer of the project’s sales and marketing consultancy, Prime Consult, executives are currently scoping out contractors to provide home automation systems throughout all units of the building to be stamped green by a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which can later be customized, in addition to penthouse perks like an internal elevator. But for now, Bassoul says, the company has not started marketing the suite.