HAJ plans signature project in Kingston

BY KARENA BENNETT
Business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) is planning a multi-billion investment in Kingston.

It's a development that chairman of the HAJ, Norman Brown, has classified as a “signature project” expected to begin during HAJ's fiscal year 2018/2019.

“What we want is a community that has a cluster of solutions.

We are exploring the idea of having high-rise apartments similar to those going up in Kingston now for professional and middle-income people.

“The location will also include lower-income houses but we want to incorporate in the design different levels of the community. Say, for instance, you have three different schemes in the location, this section might start at $5.1 million, area two could be valued at $9 million and the other with the high rises we could make them a little luxurious so that might start at $12 million for young professionals seeking to buy their first home,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer during a round-table interview on Friday.

HAJ has outlined a total of 1866 construction starts in 10 communities across Jamaica for fiscal year 2018/19.

A tight-lipped Brown would not disclose the total number of units for the Kingston project, but noted that the first phase of the solution is expected to bring 756 new housing solutions to Kingston.

It is expected to be completed by 2020.

“So you can imagine the magnitude of the project,” he told the Sunday Finance.

“It's pretty close to being finalised – document and negotiation.

But protocol dictates that for projects of this magnitude we will allow the responsible minister to be the one to bring it to the public,” he continued.

Over the years, HAJ has completed a number of projects including Country Club 2, Lilford Mews, Palms of Portmore, Westmeade Willows and the Hills of Boscobel in St Mary. All the housing solutions were priced between $11.2 million and $3 million. The agency listed Green Pond in St James as one of the projects under construction.

HAJ's main activities include property development, the construction and sale of housing solutions for low to middle-income earners and the regularisation of tenure on land through titling services.

The agency has formed a relationship with the National Housing Trust to provide financing for individuals looking to purchase solutions from the HAJ as well as the funding of some development.

According to the chairman, in addition to the Kingston project, HAJ will also be undertaking development in Portmore, St James and St Elizabeth for 2018/19 and is now at a sensitive stage in the negotiation processes. He added that the agency has received development proposals from local and international firm particularly companies from the United States and China.

“These projects are going to be undertaken using the model that is now recommended by the Government of Jamaica where we will be doing public private partnership, joint venture.

It means our partners will share the risk so that we can ensure transparency of the project,” Brown said.

Plans are also in place to build out another 156 units in Belair, St Ann.

All the projects are anticipated to bring at least 20 per cent return on investment.

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