AMMAN –– The JD300 million Abdali Boulevard project is in the final stages, scheduled to open for business by the first half of this year.

According to developers, progress in the project has exceeded 93 per cent with construction work to be completed by April.

In a recent interview with The Jordan Times, Taher Jaghbir, chief executive officer of the Abdali Boulevard Company, said the shopping district will open to the public by mid-year indicating that the company has leased over 35 per cent of the retail space.

Noting that the company has just started leasing commercial offices, he noted that talks are under way with potential tenants regarding the rest of spaces.

Asked about the reasons behind the delay in the project, which was supposed to be ready in 2010, Jaghbir noted that delays in such a huge project are normal, attributing it to global downturn and regional slowdown in the real estate market.

“Delays in real estate projects were across the region and the Abdali scheme was among them,” he said, pointing out that financial difficulties had a role in the delay to a certain extent but it was not the major reason.

Commenting on whether economic slowdown in Jordan, particularly in the real estate, will make difficult for developers to market the project, he expressed optimism despite a ‘very challenging’ market.

“I believe that the uniqueness of the project will make it easier to attract investors and businesses,” he said. “We are in a very healthy situation.”

The Boulevard will play a key role in boosting Jordan’s economy by attracting more foreign and local investments and by position Amman as a class destination for tourists, businesses and shoppers, Jaghbir added.

He mentioned that the Abdali Urban Development Project is expected to attract over 16,000 visitors a day in the first three years, indcating that studies estimate the number to rise to over 38,000 a day by 2020.

Regarding leasing prices, he elaborated that prices will be relatively higher than the local market but cheaper than competing projects in regional countries.

Jaghbir explained that the Boulevard consists of a pedestrian spine bordered by 12 buildings that offer 22,000 square metres of retail space to house 120 stores.

The outlets space will include fashion boutiques, restaurants, cafés, specialty and department stores, he added.

The Boulevard project, according to Jaghbir, will also feature 400 luxurious serviced residential apartments that will be managed by the regional Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, indicating that an area of 30,000 square metres will house commercial offices to meet the needs of international and local companies.

He mentioned that the Boulevard rooftop, sized 18,000-square-metres, will consist of outdoor swimming pools, sports clubs, spas, lounges and restaurants.

The Abdali Boulevard Company was established in 2006 and is owned by Abdali Investment and Development, which is the main developer of the Abdali new city centre, and Kuwait’s United Real Estate Company.

Abdali Investment and Development is a public-private partnership between the government-owned estate developer National Resources and Development Corporation (MAWARED) and Horizon, an international construction conglomerate specialised in investment and development of large scale real estate and construction projects.

Horizon is owned by Lebanese businessman Baha Hariri.