Posted in Features on March 20, 2008
Have you ever fantasized about building an island paradise? Although many people dream about creating an island, few can dredge up the money or materials to realize those inspirations except in the most unusual circumstances. But, within the past century, developers have created habitable islands where individuals can live in communities or where they can visit for entertainment and relaxation. Investors now can own a piece of man-made island paradise, all shaped from dreams and blueprints or expanded upon with reclamation efforts. Although much of the world’s attention has been drawn to the creative island-building efforts located in Dubai, such as The Palm, the list below includes man-made island paradises located in the U.S., Japan, Spain, and other areas as well as the mideast. Some islands were built specifically for tourists, while others were created only for homeowners. Some blend both community life with tourism to offer a wide variety of possibilities for all concerned. Some islands have been inhabitated for decades while others recently have invited investors to the table for projects that will be finalized within the next decade.
The list below is in no particular order. While the sites are numbered, the numbering does not indicate that we favor one site over another or that they are listed in order of value.
- The World: One way to add land mass to a city is to add a series of world-class islands to that city’s coastline. Dubai developer, Nakheel, has added more than 1,500 km of beach front to the Dubai coastline with various island-building projects over the past decade. These islands include The Palm, The World and Dubai Waterfront, and they’re located off the Dubai city coastline, United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the eastern Arabian Peninsula. The World is the latest complete island paradise, with the last stone on the breakwater added on 10 January this year. Investors and developers can choose among 300 islands in the shape of the continents to create estate islands and residential and resort communities. All 300 islands are accessible only by marine or air transport, with world-class marinas to berth boats, yachts and cruise liners. Two mainland marinas will service The World, and 4 hub islands in The World will service the islands. Nakheel integrates a series of waterways, canals and lakes to enhance the overall design. Investors have the freedom to create their own personal vision on the islands for private or commercial use, whether it is for leisure, residential or tourist developments. The 300 islands will be offered for sale on a freehold basis to selected investors only. If The World doesn’t suit your taste, perhaps the next Nakheel project, The Universe, will be more your cup of tea.
- Tokyo Disney Resort: Tokyo Disney Resort may or may not be the ideal paradise destination for adults, but adults with kids in tow might prefer this Japanese Disney destination over California’s Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Tokyo Disney Resort was the first Disney park to be built outside the U.S., and it will celebrate its 25th anniversary during 2008. The park was constructed by Walt Disney Imagineering in the same style as the U.S. parks. The Oriental Land Company purchased the theme license from the Walt Disney Company although it follows the Disney ideal. The island contains 115 acres, and it is located in Urayasu, Chiba, Japan, near Tokyo. The island resort contains five hotels within walking distance from seven themed areas within the park. If you don’t have children in tow when you visit Japan and you want to visit a man-made island, you can plan to fly through Chūbu Centrair International Airport, Kansai International Airport, Kobe Airport, or the new Kitakyushu Airport. All four Japanese airports are built upon artificial islands.
- Eden Island: Imagine living on a private island, with secluded beaches, a world-class commercial precinct, international marina capable of handling super-yachts as well as a range of activities and leisure facilities for your exclusive use. You can find this paradise on Eden Island, located in the Seychelles archipelago nation. This archipelago is located in the Indian Ocean, some 930 miles east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar. Situated just off the coast of the main island of Mahé, Eden Island is a 99-acre residential marina development that sports a minimum of 480 luxury freehold apartments, mansions and private villas. Homes are spacious, with large verandas and high-pitched red roofs. They feature breathtaking views over mountains, ocean, forests and nearby islands like Cerf and Ste. Anne. Unlike Tokyo Disney resort, Eden island is for property owners only and these owners qualify for residency. Only property owners within the development have exclusive use of facilities such as private beaches, parks, private moorings, clubhouse facilities and much more.
- Venetian Islands : You don’t need to leave the U.S. to find first-rate man-made island paradises. You can find several situated near Miami in the form of the Venetian Islands. Although this little piece of heaven isn’t for the hermit, it’s perfect for anyone who wants to own a piece of community real estate in the one- to five-million dollar range. The islands, originally built in the 1920s, are connected by the historic Venetian Causeway from the Miami mainland to Miami Beach. The islands did not exist when the Venetian Causeway was first envisioned. Beginning in 1922, the Biscayne Bay improvement Company sold lots for underwater plots with contracts specifying that the buyer would receive land on an island once it had been dredged, filled, and improved. Construction of the Venetian Islands proceeded quickly and work on the Venetian Causeway began in 1925, consisting of viaducts, fill, and drawbridges. The Venetian Causeway was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Today, the this causeway is a popular stretch for joggers, bikers, dog walkers and sightseers.
- Balboa Island: In 1908, Balboa Island near Newport Beach, California, was little more than a sandbar. Then, real estate promoter William Collins received permission from the Orange County Board of Supervisors to dredge the surrounding bay. He piled more sand on that little sandbar and built Balboa Island. Collins originally sold lots on the island for as little as $25. It’s a little late to purchase a lot on Balboa Island for that price, as some bay front lots now are appraised at over three million dollars. Despite this price increase, the island has retained its early twentieth-century charm. It is home to professionals, families, retirees, students and celebrities, but Balboa Island also entertains tourists and vacationers who return year after year to enjoy the scenery and activities. Local tradition has it that Balboa Island is where the frozen chocolate banana was first marketed, and tourists and residents alike count on stores to carry bags filled with salt water taffy and Balboa Bars (a brick of vanilla ice cream on a stick dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped peanuts). Sounds as though a visit to this man-made paradise could sate your sweet tooth!
- Sentosa Island: Singapore is no stranger to land reclamation, as they have constructed at least eight artificial islands over the years. The one that is most popular among tourists and residents who seek man-made island paradises is Sentosa Island. This 1,235-acre island was originally an island that has experienced man-made expansion. Complete with championship golf courses, spas, and world-class entertainment, the Sentosa HarbourFront contains over 20,000 square feet of retail space and attractions that run the gamut from adventure rides to historical exhibits amidst a retail environment. Located on the western tip of Sentosa island, Rasa Sentosa Resort is Singapore’s only beach front hotel. But, HarbourFront masterplans include a 10,000-strong residential community alongside this integrated family resort. Within the year, the Capella Singapore, developed by Millenia Hotel Pte Ltd (an associate company of local property conglomerate Pontiac Land Group), will open a six-star luxury resort that boasts 170 rooms and a number of private villas. Architectural genius Lord Norman Foster and legendary hotelier Robert Burns will see this multi-million dollar hotel project to fruition.
- The Pearl-Qatar: Not to be outdone by its Dubai neighbor, Qatar is building a multi-billion dollar artificial island located less than one mile off the Doha coastline. The island will create almost 20 miles of new coastline, and it will provide 985 acres fronted by more than 12 miles of pristine beaches for over 40,000 residents in more than 15,000 dwellings within 12 precincts by 2010. The Pearl-Qatar is this country’s first international real estate venture. It represents the largest real estate development in the country and the first venture here to offer freehold and residential rights to international investors. Shaped like an exotic string of pearls, the Pearl-Qatar will allow room for800 guests among its 40,000 residents to enjoy three marinas, three 5 star hotels, plus almost half a million square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space.
- Zoran Island: Mr Gulu Lalvani, developer of the Royal Phuket Marina in Phuket, Thailand, has his eye set on a new project – Zoran, a man-made island located off the Phuket shoreline. Lalvani told local press that Bill Gates and his 54-meter yacht.provided the inspiration for this island. Phuket lacks a marina that can handle superyachts, a significant failing in light of the increasing number of super-rich tourists such as Bill Gates coming to this area. An Australian consulting firm has been hired to survey the proposed project site, which Lalvani named after his youngest son. Plans are developing for a hotel, luxury villas and berths for superyachts. So, if you have a hankering for such a place, then keep an eye on this future project.
- Sovereign Bay: If you’d prefer to live in Spain, then this proposed marina development, planned by Foster and Partners, might be your idea of luxury. This man-made island paradise is located on an existing area of reclaimed land to the east of the Rock of Gibraltar. The scheme includes a comprehensive environmental strategy, which capitalizes on the regional climate, location and orientation of the buildings, including using seawater from the surrounding Mediterranean Sea to cool the buildings. The new harbour is spacious enough to accommodate a boutique cruise liner terminal as well as a full marina for yachts. According to the Web site, the sweep of the marina arm will hold retail, cafe and restaurant life, terminating in a luxury residential development on the land-side. “The residential component will include a range of apartments with private swimming pools, terraces and sea views. Two beaches on each side of the development will be regenerated, with a spa and hotel located at the land-side gateway. The harbour will be connected to a series of landscaped public squares and plazas, with naturally-lit underground parking and direct pedestrian access, which will include a variety of leisure facilities, such as swimming pools and tennis courts, in addition to a full compliment of retail and designer outlets.” With those amenities, you’d never need to leave this island paradise!
- Reef Island: You don’t need to wait until 2010 to invest in Reef Island. This man-made island paradise is gathering momentum as a flux of Bahraini and European investors have rushed to book up to over half the proposed housing units to date. Previously known as Lulu Island, this reclamation project is being built as a joint venture between the Bahrain government and the Bahrain-based Mouawad Group Real Estate Development Company off the coast of Al Manama, in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The development was designed by Australian-based Spowers and Pentago, and it is designed in the shape of the number nine. This freehold development project’s land reclamation is complete, and it covers an area of 6.23 million square feet. Construction has begun on approximately 1,200 condominiums, 65 villas and 49 beach fronted homes. Future plans include a 250-room five-star hotel, marina and yacht club, an aquarium, a well care center, a shopping mall, and a multi-function exhibition center.
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