Bliss Street is a crumbling address. It is an accumulation of low-end retail shops – accessory stores, neighborhood grocery stores, fast food joints…. Some buildings will soon be demolished, three projects are under construction, and the rest of the street is made up of a number of old one- to three-floor buildings in a very poor state of repair. Yet, despite its run-down state, Bliss Street is still one of the busiest retail streets of Ras Beirut and a recognized residential address.
Over 1.5 km between AUB’s medical gate and where it joins Charles de Gaulle Avenue, Bliss Street has only three office buildings, all located close to AUBMC. The office stock is of poor quality and badly maintained. Bliss Street is no longer a prime business address and does not attract developers with that purpose in mind, nor office tenants. This explains the low rental rates of the few available offices in the area, which stand around USD 200 per SQM per year, among the lowest in Hamra.
With a large student population, Bliss Street has become the “junk food” destination of Lebanon. The retail landscape offers juice shops, bakeries, snacks, hamburger joints, hotdog stalls, etc. Although the area caters predominately to the students of AUB, the street attracts a large clientele from all over Beirut. Double parking and long queues to order a shawarma sandwich or an ice cream cone are experiences that make up the special, almost “cult” cachet that characterize this street. The popularity of the street and the high traffic it attracts ensure close to full occupancy. There are very few vacancies anywhere on Bliss Street and any vacated space usually stays a very short while on the market before it finds new tenants. Bliss Street can therefore easily justify some of the highest rental values in Ras Beirut. Large spaces command an average rental value of about USD 1,000 per SQM per year. Kiosks and other areas smaller than 20 SQM can have an asking rental value of up to USD 2,500 per SQM per year.
The western end of Bliss Street from Edisson Center to the former lighthouse (Manara) is becoming a luxury residential destination. Apartments along the street offer beautiful views of the large green spaces and red roofs of the AUB campus and the Mediterranean sea. The neighborhood is very pleasant, relatively quiet, and counts a number of high-end buildings. The area is thus attracting a social elite with the means to buy there. This clientele looks for large apartments, no smaller than 420 SQM. Despite its many advantages, the area does not quite justify some of the highest asking sales prices of Ras Beirut, ranging between USD 5,500 and 7,500 per SQM, depending on the project. These prices are higher than asking prices found in BCD, the best groomed and most up-market location in Beirut and traditionally the market’s price leader.
- Number of purpose-built office buildings 3
- Office average Estimate Rental Value (USD/SQM/Year) 200
- Retail average Estimate Rental Value (USD/SQM/Year) 1,000 (up to 2,500 for kiosks)
- Residential projects under construction (western extremity) 2
- Residential starting asking sales price (USD/SQM) 5,500 – 7,500
- Minimum apartment size (SQM) 420