Two high-profile British entrepreneurs have announced a 250 million GBP ($323.12 million USD) property development in Dubai Science Park. The twist? In a world-first, all apartments are for sale in bitcoin.
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Bitcoin Sales Concept by Two of UK’s Most Famous Entrepreneurs
The Aston Plaza and Residences development is over 2.4 million square feet, featuring two 40-floor residential towers and a shopping mall. The 1,130 apartments are available to buyers worldwide in studio and one or two bedroom layouts.
It’s a joint venture between Baroness Michelle Mone OBE, and partner Douglas Barrowman‘s Knox Group of Companies. Lady Michelle is a life peer in the U.K. House of Lords, and has started a number of successful ventures including women’s underwear maker Ultimo.
Barrowman, also a long-time and successful entrepreneur, is a cryptocurrency enthusiast who has been involved with Bitcoin for several years. He said he also has significant positions in other digital assets including litecoin, Ripple XRP, and Tezos.
The two are teaming up with BitPay to process the payments. Speaking to Bitsonline, they said keeping some BTC would be preferable, but Dubai law requires funds to be converted immediately and places in an escrow account to protect all parties in the development.
They came up with the idea of bitcoin payments themselves, and approached BitPay — CEO Stephen Pair was (unsurprisingly) very receptive. He called it an “exciting opportunity for Bitcoin,” and said he was looking forward to working with Lady Michelle and Barrowman.
Large-Holding Early Bitcoin Adopters May Like Dubai
“There’s a lot of people who’ve done well out of bitcoin and cryptocurrency generally over the last few years,” said Barrowman. “If you’re an early adopter your gains will be extremely large.”
He said the apartments would be an opportunity for large bitcoin holders to turn their investments into something more tangible. They could either live in the apartments themselves or earn more by renting them out.
“A lot of people are taking the view that, rather than just backing the next ICO that comes along and keeping the gains in crypto, it’d be nice to diversify into good old-fashioned assets — like bricks and mortar, where you can actually see this beautiful apartment in a vibrant place like Dubai.”
Overall the Dubai property market looked more attractive than in the U.K., he said.
“Obviously there’s some capital gains to be made on these properties too, we’re launching at 15-20 percent below market rate… and with the Dubai 2020 Expo coming up in a few years’ time, the property market’s expected to surge in 2018 and 2019 in particular.”
If There’s Enough BTC Sales, One Will Be Free
Mone said 25 percent of the development was already sold, “conventionally” (i.e.: not in bitcoin) — although the bitcoin deal was only announced today.
BTC prices will likely fluctuate with recent volatility, but buyers would be looking at around $130,000 USD (BTC equivalent) for a studio apartment. One bedroom versions are $240,000 and two bedroomers for $380,000.
The towers in Dubai Science Park are also near a new metro station and the exclusive Dubai Hills area, she said. Her company Michelle Mone Interiors is designing the apartments’ interiors “in a five-star way”. They are available fully furnished with bathrooms and kitchens.
As an incentive to use bitcoin, if Aston Plaza sells at least 50 apartments for bitcoin out of the first 750, it will randomly choose one to give away for free.
First Large-Scale Bitcoin Real Estate Development
Aston Plaza is the first large-scale real estate development to offer sales in bitcoin. Exact details and prices are available on the project’s website.
There have been other scattered real estate offerings for BTC in the past, mostly in places like China. However details were usually vague, and it was never clear if anyone actually paid in BTC or if the offer was just an advertising gimmick. There have also been private sales of individual properties for bitcoin.
If successful, there could be other high-end real estate and property developments selling for bitcoin in the future.
Is the Dubai property deal a sign of things to come? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via Aston Plaza