First Rock hopes for luxury market revival, introduces villas in KingstonWednesday, July 28, 2021
BY AVIA COLLINDER
IN Manhattan, New York, in the United States and in London in the United Kingdom, the luxury home market has made a roaring comeback in 2021. In Jamaica, First Rock Capital is hoping that the same trend will take hold with its plan to build Hambani Estate, a 12-unit luxury villa priced at US$2 million each in St Andrew.
In Manhattan the priciest luxury home to go into contract since the start of the year was a townhouse-like condo asking US$17.5 million on the Upper East Side. The ground-level duplex has five bedrooms, 13-foot ceilings and a private garden. The next deal by size was a penthouse asking US$17.25 million on the West Side.
Sales of luxury homes in London have also hit a high note, with Zoopla.com reporting that since the start of 2021 there have been 237 deals for residences priced at £5 million (US$6.87 million) or more in the first six months, a 59 per cent uptick in 2020.
In Jamaica, First Rock is betting that this trend will surface in the Caribbean also. From real estate listings viewed by the Jamaica Observer, there are villas listed at a higher price point, but they all come with an ocean view.
One is “StrangeWays”, a double-storey, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom villa located at GoldenEye on the original Fleming Property in St Mary. The house sits on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and is priced at US$5.5 million.
Sotheby's International Realty network, the premier resource for Caribbean homes, has listed 1,592 luxury homes for sale, many priced between US$40 million and US$80 million. These come with substantial acreage and sea frontage.
First Rock has chosen its lots located at Bamboo Avenue, close to Liguanea, St Andrew, to develop the luxury villas. The site is far from the seafront yet still, the area is considered to be an up-market address. Hambani Estates will be a low-density, multifamily development consisting of 12 single-family residences, each on its own subdivided lot.
First Rock CEO Ryan Reid says the overall development is projected to cost in excess of $2 billion. Unit prices are US$2 million each for the five-bedroom villas and US$1.8 million for four-bedroom villas. “It averages US$250 us per square, which represents the lowest pricing locally for luxury developments,” he stated.
The development, as promised, will be highly landscaped with a total of seven five-bedroom residences at two storeys high, and five four-bedroom residences at three storeys high.
Each stand-alone residence will consist of landscaped forecourt that steps the building away from the main driveway, enclosing the cars within either a three- or two-car garage.
Pierre Shirley, executive director of First Rock Capital and managing director of First Rock Realty, told the Business Observer each residence will have outdoor terraces and balconies, with amenities including outdoor kitchens and plunge pools.
He outlined, “The buildings are designed in the tropical contemporary style, with a focus on natural light, good cross-ventilation throughout, and a strong connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The design intent is to create the feeling of a Jamaican villa but with the modern amenities and features expected in a Kingston residence.”
The amenities on property include a standby generator, garbage room, meter centre, gardener storage and landscaped areas. The development team includes architect Atelier-Vidal Limited, structural/civil engineer Jentech Consultants Limited, and project manager Plexus Architects & Planners Limited.
Assessing the outlook for the property in the luxury market, Andrew Issa, broker and managing director of Coldwell Banker Jamaica Realty, stated “Luxury home sales continue to do well with only a few units coming to the market each year .
“I believe the units being sold by First Rock on Bamboo Ave will be well received. Priced at around US$300 a square foot, it's luxury at an excellent price. The layout and size of the units remind me of the luxury homes you see overseas with all the amenities.”
He added, “The generous lot sizes and individual pools, along with the layouts, really provide that ultimate luxury lifestyle. With only 12 units on three and a half acres, it will be a complex sought after for executive rentals. Kingston 6 has always been the sought after neighbourhood. Once a unit has reached roof level, buyers will be able to see the living spaces and appreciate how exceptional this development will be. I think many of us have forgotten how well Jamaica was doing before the pandemic, and I believe you will see that demand return once the pandemic is behind us.”
Other realtors say the possibility of flipping such a buy is limited in Kingston. Edwin Wint, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Jamaica, indicates buyers will likely have to purchase and hold.
He explains, “Pricing of new build luxury real estate in Kingston is already at market so I am not seeing much room for flipping, as it's not a seller's market. Demand for luxury real estate is higher on the north coast, as foreign buyers tend to prefer those locations for second home and investment purchases.”
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