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New Forum owner says hotel has been waiting for right developer

UDC signs agreement for sale of ‘white elephant’

Friday, January 31, 2014    

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THE long-abandoned Forum Hotel in Portmore, St Catherine, is tipped to return to its former glory days with the proposed restoration of the tower for accommodation purposes, refurbishing of the self-contained cottages on property as independent units, and upgrading of the fishing beach into a marina entertainment complex.

This, as the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) recently signed an agreement with Portmore Marina Development Limited (PMDL) for the sale of the Forum Hotel, which has long been a white elephant.

The deal — which was inked at a cost of J$350 million — is said to fall within the broad vision of the Corporation for "making development happen when and where it is needed in the context of national priorities".

UDC Chairman Senator KD Knight commended the group of investors who decided to pursue the development in line with the original vision for the property.

"This will be a catalyst for development from east to west of that area," Knight said during Tuesday's signing at the UDC's Corporate Office in downtown Kingston.

Member of Parliament for South East St Catherine Colin Fagan also expressed his confidence in the project and highlighted its future impact in the creation of sustainable employment.

UDC General Manager Desmond Malcolm reiterated the support of the Corporation in ensuring the project and the investors achieve success as the project fits into the UDC's plans for developing the area into an entertainment and recreational hub.

The UDC has been actively pursuing the divestment of Forum for a number of years and, in 2013, once again approached the market through a public tendering process. Portmore Marina Development emerged as the most viable bidder based on cost, development concept and conformity to the ecology of the area.

The hotel complex features an 11-storey, 200-room hotel building and was originally designed to accommodate restaurants, conference rooms, pool bar, and gazebos at the ground level.

The site also supports some 57 self-contained two-bedroom cottages and 23 unimproved lots.

Director of PMDL Michael Lake, in his address, said the arrival of these waterfront properties is a landmark for the entire real estate market.

"We are immensely proud to be the catalyst for the regeneration of this prime property that has been waiting for the right developer, with the right insight and experience, to make this project a reality," he said.

The Forum Hotel, which is located on just over 16 acres of prime real estate, was opened in 1973 as the Adventure Inn Hotel. The property, which is located just north of the iconic Rodney's Arms, lies at the southern section of the Naggo Head to Port Henderson roadway and along the eastern section of a parochial road leading to Port Henderson Hills/Green Bay area.

The Forum Hotel is located only two kilometres away from the Portmore town centre and approximately eight kilometres from Kingston, the largest English-speaking business district in the Caribbean.

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