Dubai developer revealed as $120M bidder for Surfside collapse site

Damac Properties, publicly traded developer with projects throughout UAE, will make initial $16M deposit

Damac Properties founder Hussain Sajwani and the Surfside collapse site (Damac, Getty)
Damac Properties founder Hussain Sajwani and the Surfside collapse site (Damac, Getty)

UPDATED, Sept. 24, 3:30 p.m.: Damac Properties, a Dubai-based developer, is the stalking horse bidder for the collapse site of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, The Real Deal has learned.

East Oceanside Development LLC, a Delaware corporation tied to publicly traded Damac, signed a contract to pay $120 million for the oceanfront property. The company’s identity was disclosed in a motion to approve the sales contract, filed with the court on Friday. Judge Michael Hanzman, who is overseeing the litigation, is expected to approve the motion at next week’s hearing.

Damac, founded by billionaire Hussain Sajwani, calls itself a luxury developer that has shaped the Middle East real estate market with projects throughout the United Arab Emirates.

The stalking horse bidder made its offer in August, setting the minimum price for the property at 8777 Collins Avenue, where nearly 100 people were killed when the building collapsed in late June.

Other bidders will be able to submit their offers at an auction that is expected to occur between late February and March, said receiver Michael Goldberg at a hearing Thursday morning.

Damac is expected to make an initial $16 million deposit, of which $150,000 is nonrefundable and it will have a 60-day due diligence period. In the meantime, Avison Young has continued to market the nearly 1.9-acre property, after releasing an offering memorandum. Court filings show that information has been provided to more than 160 interested buyers.

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Avison Young broker Michael Fay said he is speaking with foreign buyers, including groups from Canada, Mexico and Europe.

“We continue to market it internationally and are waiting for the judge’s approval of the motion next week,” Fay said.

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Jeff Cohen and Vivian Dimond of Brown Harris Stevens represented Damac.

In the auction, only bidders who offer more than the stalking horse’s floor price will be able to move forward.

If Damac ends up as the winning bidder, the Surfside development will be its first known venture in the United States, as its website lists no other projects here.

Founded in 2002, the company’s developments are focused on Dubai, including the four-tower Paramount Hotels & Resorts Dubai with 1,200 luxury apartments; the Zada Tower with luxury apartments; and the four-tower Aykon City residential project on the banks of the Dubai Canal.

In London, it developed the 50-story Damac Tower Nine Elms apartment tower with Versace Home interiors.

The firm has also developed Trump branded projects in the past. In 2015, one of Damac’s Akoya developments with a golf course and a large residential community dropped the “Trump International Golf Course” name in gilded letters and a billboard showing former President Donald Trump, following the then-presidential candidate’s anti-Muslim comments.

Sajwani, an Emirati billionaire, also has his own investment firm, DICO Group, established in the early 1990s. DICO fully owns Italian fashion house Roberto Cavalli.

Damac Properties had sought regulatory approval to go private and received the approval this week, the Associated Press reported. Sajwani, who stepped down as chairman earlier this year to avoid a conflict of interest, owns 72 percent of Damac and offered nearly $600 million in early June to take the company private.