Economy, Business And Markets

A Dream Too Far?

A Dream Too Far? A Dream Too Far?

I n 2011 a plan to extend Tehran’s satellite city of Parand—20km southwest of the capital city—was made public by a group of developers. They announced that the newly proposed city would be called ‘Iranian Land’ and would be Tehran’s latest premier luxury development. They also stated the new town would host a Formula 1 race track, retail village, health village, golf resort with villas, equestrian club for the wealthy, and a water park like none seen before around the country among some of its amazing offerings.

In fact plans for this new suburb and complex sounded so outlandish many Iranian architects dismissed the project at first instance; some even complaining it would wreak havoc on Tehran’s already strained resources.

But Iranian Land did commence—not as quick as the developers had hoped for—with each sub project slowly getting off the ground in an ad-hoc fashion.

 The Current View

Iranian Land currently consists of an airplane hangar structure on the main Tehran-Saveh road with a BMW inside the showroom different front and back license plates—one from the US state of California, the other from the German region of Baden Wurttemberg, insinuating the kind of client the developers are hoping to attract. It also has a go-kart track for day trippers to the far-flung destination resort.

Unfortunately for developers, Iran’s fluctuating rial rate has had a knock on effect to the development. In the developers’ glossy brochure they plan to make Iran’s first golf village. However when we were taken around the site, the brochure looked more advanced than the actual site.

The development had an air of being forgotten on our site tour, the young salesman tried his best to put a good spin on things, suggesting that the green grass “was yellow because of winter” and that the lack of any action on the golf course village was down to it being mid-week. Maybe he was right, but from our observations it seems like one of the major hurdles for the site is investor confidence.

The young salesman kept emphasizing the entire Iranian land is part of the Zarandieh Special Economic Zone—an area designated by the central government for economic growth—and it would become one of the “go to places when people visit Iran”. We agreed with him that this would be a major area of investment once economic conditions become better.  

The original intention of the developers is very clear. Up until now Tehran’s amenities have suffered from a lack of investment and development. A recent article published by the AFP emphasized this point about Tehran’s golf course in the Enghelab Club and its remaining 13 holes after years of neglect.

The plan for the new private city would allow Tehran’s population and foreign businesspeople alike a place to live and work just outside of the hustle and bustle of capital city.

It would also be created in two distinct phases, firstly phase one would consist of a  “Car City”, where car enthusiasts can watch, drive and even purchase a car presumably tax free due to being situated in the SEZ.  (The representative also said Jaguar-Land Rover has signaled an interest in setting up their own showroom in the new zone.)

The second phase would be a more general development of lush green furrows for Iran’s small, yet substantial group of golfers developed by international specialists in the golfing industry. The new village is also said to be designed by Cracknell, one of Britain’s largest landscape architects groups.

The salesperson said the villas wouldn’t be ready until 2015, and the prices are as follows:

For a 210 square meter villa in the golf course village you would be expecting to pay roughly, 5 billion rial ($131 thousand at free market rate). The price would go incrementally up as the development continues, and some villas have also been set aside for foreign embassies. We were told that Chinese companies had already invested in the project.

When leaving the remote showroom, one Australian-Iranian businessman who was looking to purchase highlighted a very obvious problem.    

“It’s quite simple really, who on earth is going to throw their hard-earned cash at this when they are showing little or no progress from the brochure of 12 months ago. I really hope this gets off the ground but as a small businessperson living part time here I cannot afford the financial risk.”