By Chris Patterson
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – A total of 248 studio apartments will be constructed at 10-16 Howard Avenue, St Andrew South West, under the National Housing Trust (NHT) Guaranteed Purchase Programme (GPP).
The undertaking November 9, by prime minister, Andrew Holness; chairman, NHT, Lennox Channer; managing director, NHT, Martin Miller; ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Jamaica, His Excellency Daojiang Chen; member of parliament for St Andrew South West, Dr Angela Brown-Burke and managing director, Centauri Real Estate Company Limited, Julian Zhu.
The project is expected to be completed by October 2024 and is projected to cost $2.4 billion. It is being built on 1.9 acres.
The NHT has engaged with developers Centauri Real Estate Company Limited for construction of the project, dubbed: ‘The Howard Apartments’.
The NHT introduced the GPP in November 2018. Under the programme, developers conceptualise and execute their development plans, while the NHT absorbs the market risk by purchasing units in the development.
This approach seeks to leverage the efficiencies within the private sector, in order that units can be delivered at lower costs, within faster timeframes and with the private sector assuming most of the implementation risks.
In his address at the ceremony, prime minister Holness called for more developers to come on stream with the GPP.
“We want more developers to join in, more Jamaican developers to come in, because I know developers are skeptical of the progamme because it locks off the ability to gain on the appreciation after the units are built, but that is not going to help the people who want the units, so we want our developers to come in and maximise on the efficiency on construction, so that the people of the country can get the units at affordable prices,” he said.
Holness noted that the government has minimised the political, fiscal and policy risks for private-sector investors to participate in the initiative, which will have a positive social impact on the beneficiaries.
“We are very happy to see Centauri Real Estate Company Limited coming on board with us,” he said. The government remains committed to providing housing solutions to Jamaicans that will meet needs and affordability levels.
“This will not only be a housing development with apartments. There are significant amenities which will be built in. I am happy to see that there will be a play area for children,” he added.
The prime minister informed that while the price per unit in the development has not been established, “it will be in the affordable price range”.
Meanwhile, Channer said the NHT’s financing options, led by low-interest rates, continue to shift the market towards improved accessibility and affordability.
“As an example of these favourable mortgage financing options, the future residents of the Howard Apartments can look forward to benefiting from facilities like our deferred and intergenerational mortgages, parent assist, 100 percent financing for scheme solutions as well as our home grants,” he said.
He noted that these deliberate policy positions and facilities continue to bridge the affordability gap for contributors who need it the most.
Channer pointed out that the studio apartments will add to the 1,500 solutions slated for completion over the next two years as part of the housing delivery programme for Kingston and St. Andrew.
For her part, Dr Brown-Burke hailed the initiative, noting that the amenities, which include communal spaces, are critical in building the spirit of community.
Meantime, Zhu said the undertaking is the first collaboration with the Jamaican Government.
“We feel excited, but nervous. We feel excited because we are finally able to join the Government’s efforts to do something more meaningful to the Jamaican society and we also feel nervous, because we understand the job we are doing is very demanding,” he said, adding that his company will not compromise on the quality of the project.
Under the GPP, the developers have sole responsibility for designing, implementing, maintaining and closing out the projects. The completed units will be made available to NHT contributors using NHT financing options, for which they have to be qualified.
A press release from the NHT indicated that an environment permit has been obtained from National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), while building approval has been obtained from the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation. Construction of the perimeter wall has also commenced.
Amenities of the completed units will include quartz countertop; laundry area; balcony or covered patio; stone plastic composite tiles; kitchen cabinets, wood composite doors; bathroom cabinet with mirror; and glass shower enclosure.
The development will include clubhouse, gazebo, drying yard, children’s play area, exercise area, roof garden, green area and a jogging trail.