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.
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!
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 .
Which areas are booming?
Ras Beirut used to be the traditional prime business destination of the capital. The area is sub-divided into different office hubs that have different characteristics due to the type of stock available and the clientele to which it caters. While the majority of Ras Beirut no longer attracts business – mainly due to an aging stock and lack of parking spaces, some neighborhoods are still popular because of their proximity to important commercial hubs, Hamra and Verdun. The two main attraction poles in Ras Beirut at the moment are AUBMC and Gefinor Center.
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.