'High Hope' up for auction
Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
Two years after an offer from a Cayman-based company fell through, the luxury property, High Hope Wiltshire, has been placed on the market again by the owner who has now chosen to offload the property by auction.
High Hope Wiltshire was once the home of American diplomat and Reynolds Alumina executive, Walter L. Rice, who at one time rented the property to movie producer David Selznick, whose films include Gone with the Wind and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
The property was developed for Rice by the Maffesanties in 1968. Comprising a villa and 10 cottages, it sits on 87 acres in Anchovy, six miles from Montego Bay. The cottages were done later in the 1990s.
The property is being sold by auctioneers, DC Tavares & Finson Realty Limited, on behalf of the current but unnamed owner, who acquired the property in 1978.
In 2012, Heirloom Fund Management Limited in Grand Cayman proposed to buy the property for US$1.2 million and to spend another US$1 million to develop into a larger resort.
Sunday Business understands that the reserve price for the current auction is below this figure.
Heirloom Fund Management, manager of the Heirloom Caribbean Real Estate Fund, wanted to subdivide 50 acres into a gated community with lots to be sold at the proposed price of US$125,000 each. A hotel/spa would be the focal point of the development and the plan also envisaged the addition of 40 cottages to be sold at US$250,000 each.
Heirloom - as outlined to investors in a term sheet - had proposed to make the purchase through an offering of 4.999 million preference shares issued by Heirloom Caribbean Real Estate Fund, at US$1,000 per share.
Heirloom's acquisition of High Hope was expected to close by June 30, 2012, but on Friday, Heirloom told Sunday Business that the fund chose to withdraw its bids for the property, but did not say why.
"We did not complete the transaction," said Heirloom director, Bruce Ramsay.
Maura Watson, real estate broker with Tavares & Finson, said the property is back on the market because the owner - a widow who resides in Canada, - is "highly motivated" to sell.
The auction date is set for Saturday, November 1, but Watson said the bids would be viewed over a 10-day period and that other offers would be considered.
Included in the sale is the 6,000-square foot, four-bedroom villa and its furnishings, 87 acres "with panoramic sea view" and the 10 cottages, which are unfinished.
"I'm offering an amazing deal," said Watson, referring to the reserve price in relation to the actual valuation.
High Hope overlooks Freeport, Montego Bay.