Verdun is a versatile, multi-faceted address that enjoys a very solid reputation. It is a jigsaw puzzle of residential, commercial, and business hubs. Over the past few months, several residential projects were introduced on the market and ABC Verdun Mall is planned for 2017. However, in the medium term, the neighborhood remains dominated by its commercial and office structure. Verdun Street is bounded by 58 plots on either side of its 1,370-meter-length. About ten of these (around 17 percent of the total number of plots) have strong development potential. Some are vacant (currently used as parking lots) while others have old structures that could be torn down to make room for new buildings. Verdun has two distinct areas that offer very different characteristics: Northern Verdun between Concorde Square and Goodies and southern Verdun from Goodies to Mazraa Boulevard.
From derelict no man’s land to the up and coming high-tech hub of Beirut and – its creators hope – of the region, Bachoura has made a formidable transformation! A public-private partnership between a development company (ZRE), an incubator (Berytech), and the Ministry of Telecommunications is behind this achievement. Each member of the trio has pitched in with its special expertise – ZRE developing the concept and overseeing its construction, Berytech attracting IT startups, and the Ministry providing broadband internet and telephone infrastructure at preferential rates. Since its launching in September 2012 with a nine-floor building, Beirut Digital District (BDD) currently has renovated three buildings and two more should be upcoming in 2014 and 2015, which offer approximately 7,500 SQM of office space and about 1,500 SQM of retail space. An additional 6,000 SQM are yet to come by 2017.
Badaro witnessed its glory decades during the 1960s and 1970s. Badaro Street was a renowned address with some mythic names, such as Badaro Inn – the last vestige of that past era shut its doors only a few years ago. During the long years of the Civil War and for a couple of decades afterwards, the commercial landscape of Badaro was in decline. The commercial structure that remains today is a hodgepodge mix of rundown grocery stores and outmoded neighborhood service stores (the local hairdresser, pharmacy, clothing store, or bank). Lately, a change has been set in motion. Badaro Street has been entirely refurbished and repaved and there is more and more demand for retail on Badaro Street.
Verdun is an established, prestigious residential address – from a quiet suburban neighborhood containing individual villas surrounded by gardens, it developed into a good quality residential neighborhood of Ras Beirut in the 1960s and early 1970s. The southern part of Verdun, from Goodies toward Saeb Salam (Mazraa) Boulevard, is the most expensive. It is thus more dynamic as it enjoys affluent demand and has the most recent developments. While the overall image of Verdun remains upscale, the new supply, particularly the one on Verdun Street, has become slightly less up-market. Still, the name of Verdun enjoys an excellent reputation and attracts sustained and stronger demand .
Hamra is the historical center of Ras Beirut – the most cosmopolitan neighborhood of the capital and a sure investment value. Hamra has been booming for more than a couple of years, and continues to be in great demand by developers – who follow the market trend. Hamra is a collection of three different geographical entities: the area around Hamra Street is the heart of the neighborhood, then the eastern and western ends. Each geographical area caters to a special niche market and offers different development potentials. These differences are reflected in the price of the BUA. While land is becoming extremely rare in the heart of Beirut, Hamra still offers some golden development opportunities.
Verdun Street still enjoys a good reputation. With several shopping galleries (Concorde Square, Verdun 730, Verdun 732, Dunes…), Verdun Street is one of the principal shopping destinations of Beirut. Several large retail groups also help boost the market by setting up their brands there: Azadea with the likes of Zara, Mango, Massimo Dutti; HST with GS and Timberland; and Bestsellers with Vero Moda and Jack & Jones. Verdun groups three geographical sectors. At the northern end, retail is grouped around Concorde Square. The southernmost end of the street is grouped around Mandarine Restaurant. The busiest stretch is located between Goodies and Dunes. During the past few months, however, Verdun has started showing signs of slowdown. Some locations remain vacant for several weeks, even months, and prices have not moved for some time. Competition is indeed stiff with three newcomers on the retail scene: Beirut Souks in BCD, Le Mall Dbayeh, and the upcoming City Center in Hazmieh. The future prospect of a mall would give Verdun a much-needed boost.
The area of Badaro offers some of the best value for money apartments in Beirut. It is thus one of the most attractive alternatives to the expensive neighborhoods of Ashrafieh and other central areas of Beirut City where it is still possible to buy a new apartment at less than USD 3,000 per SQM in a pleasant environment. Badaro flaunts many advantages: It is centrally located with very easy access to the major business and entertainment centers of Beirut. It is also a sparsely populated area that enjoys calm, green spaces. The areas of Medawar and Horsh Kfoury are especially pleasant, with pine trees, and charming buildings dating back to the 1950’s and 1970’s.