The commercial landscape of Beirut evolves apace with restaurant operators’ appetite. The F&B industry undoubtedly dictates the development of commercial hubs across the capital. F&B operators move in tandem from one location to another. Growing demand for a particular area has immediate repercussions on asking rental values. When they migrate, they also do it as a group, and prices drop sharply. Within a few months, a neighborhood could go from being a slumbering residential area to a buzzing attraction hub to night prowlers. It is a mad race then between established and startup F&B concept operators to find the best locations – at the best deals. The mood of the F&B chiefs makes or breaks a particular location. Retail areas move at the rhythm of their whims – as testify the following four examples: Maarad Street, Gemmayze, Mar Mikhael, and Badaro.
Which retail destinations have the most vacancies?
The economic slowdown and the unstable security and political environment obviously affect the retail real estate market. There has never been as many empty retail units across Beirut as there are today. “For Rent” signs dot the windows of the city’s main shopping streets. Certain stores have been vacant for years. Rental values are too high compared to the potential returns that a tenant could hope to achieve. Still, many store owners refuse to drop their asking prices so that they are more in line with market reality. They do not realize that it is better – and more financially logical – to be satisfied with a smaller income than no income at all!
Which upcoming projects offer the biggest flats?
Three of the largest five apartments in Ashrafieh are located in the Golden Square of Furn el Hayek, the most luxurious neighborhood East of Beirut Central District. Not surprising, as owning an apartment larger than 1,200 SQM is a rare luxury, reserved only for the most prime of the high-end residential projects. These large apartments usually take up the last floor or floors of luxury high-rises, with breathtaking views of the city. Simplexes, duplexes, or triplexes, they often have large terraces or hanging gardens and some unique features not to be found in standard apartments, even those of very high standing. These rare products are exclusively reserved to a privileged few.
Where are the capital’s skyscrapers located?
Beirut is no exception to the world’s infatuation with skyscrapers. While Beirut hasn’t reached the record-breaking race to top the world’s tallest towers of the Gulf area and Asia, no less than 50 towers will be higher than 100 meters by 2015. The race for higher floors is justified by the higher profits that come from the increasing price of the upper levels, but also by the possibility to offer views that cannot be obstructed – highly prized by buyers. Indeed, the higher the tower, the smaller is the footprint on the plot, and the larger the space that can be landscaped. Ashrafieh is the new high-rise hub, with four of the five current tallest towers.