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.
Some fifteen years after the development of Solidere, the southernmost strip of BCD counts 13 vacant plots near the Ring Road (Fouad Chehab Boulevard). The area’s sagging popularity is in clear contrast with the residential boom of Wadi Abou Jmil or Minet el Hosn, where several projects are currently taking place and many others have been completed. On the contrary, only six projects are under way in southern BCD, five of which are located in the area of Saifi Village and one in Zokak el Blatt. That it should be lagging behind other areas of BCD is not surprising, as Southern BCD sits across a very busy, noisy, polluted highway that seperates it from some of the poorest residential neighborhoods of Beirut, such as Bachoura and Zokak el Blatt. Once the rest of BCD is fully developed, the Southern strip will have its turn.
Where are Beirut’s largest land banks located?
It is becoming more and more difficult to find vacant land in the most popular neighborhoods of Beirut. However, some areas still represent important land banks that have tremendous future development potential. While the potential of some areas, such as BCD’s new Waterfront District, is well known and has the asking prices to prove it, others are less obvious or are still testing grounds that have not realized their full potential.