Business

Quarter of rooms at new hotel for Renfrew Road has found buyers

Wednesday, July 16, 2014    

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ONE-quarter of the available units at the planned corporate Hotel on Renfrew Road in New Kingston have found buyers, according to developer Evan Williams.

The 48-room hotel tentatively titled the'R' aims to begin construction in the "third week in August", following a year of finalising building permits and bank financing.

"We have twelve units that are out to contract in different mixes," said Williams in an interview with the Observer at the project site which currently doubles as his office. "In other words, the contracts for sale are in the hands of the purchasers' attorneys. Over the course of the next 16 months we should complete the sales [of all the available units]."

The hotel will operate as a strata plan in which rooms would be sold and leased back to management to operate the hotel. The hotel will cost some "US$5.8 million to construct" with another US$1 million "for equipment, furnishing and fitting".

The return on investment within the first four years is expected to range between seven and 9.5 per cent based on 50 per cent occupancy, Williams indicated in a previous article.

According to the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), there are 1,640 guest rooms available in Kingston. In the category 0 to 20 rooms there are 166 rooms. In the category 20 to 40 rooms there are 219 rooms and in the category 45 and above there are 1,256 rooms. Within the last category are included Spanish Court, Terra Nova, The Courtleigh and the Pegasus.

Three blocks away construction is underway on the Marriott/Courtyard developed in part by one of the island's leading business families, the Faceys. This five-storey 130-room hotel, scheduled for completion in 2015, aims to attract corporate visitors.

But Williams argues that his model, while also attracting short-term corporate visitors, aims more so for long-stay visitors, such as foreign workers who would usually rent homes in the prestigious golden triangle. As such, the one to three- bedroom units include washing and kitchen amenities.

It took Williams five years to get approval with the local authorities objecting, claiming the building was "too dense" and conceptually not popular for the vicinity. A similar high-rise sits immediately across the road, which offers long-stay accommodation.

The plan for the hotel to be located on Renfrew Road includes sub-floors (basement and two parking structures) built with reinforced concrete, but everything above is steel frame.

The restaurant on the lowest level will be accessible to the public. The café will only be available to the guests. Their aim is to have a level of separation, but not segregation.

The site aims to employ up to 250 workers during construction, with 50 permanent staff when complete. Williams leads the development company Evwil Limited with a team of private investors.

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