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Digicel cuts sale price on New Kingston land to ‘motivate’ buyers

Published:Wednesday | May 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A fleet of buses are seen through the fence at the five-acre land lot owned by Digicel at Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston in this Gleaner file photo. The telecom has been trying to sell the property for four years.

Having listed the property for about four years without a sale, Digicel has cut the asking price for premium land at Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston from US$8 million to US$6 million.

That translates in Jamaican dollar terms to a drop from $925 million to $694 million at current exchange rates.

The property was originally intended for Digicel's headquarters, but was placed on the market in 2011 when the telecom chose to develop its permanent home on the Kingston waterfront instead.

The five-acre undeveloped lot - located on the cusp of New Kingston - is bordered by Windsor, Fairway and Lady Musgrave roads.

Listing agents in Kingston say real estate remains a buyer's market, forcing sellers to drop prices in order to secure sales - Digicel being no exception.

Debra Cumming, managing director of Century 21 Heave-Ho Properties, said the land is zoned for mixed use - residential and commercial - but that prospective buyers of the Digicel property are uncertain what use would be permitted once they buy the land.

"Not until you make an application to the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) will you know what will be permitted," Cumming said. But she also conceded that the price may appear expensive to those who are considering a return on the investment in the land.

The zoning permit allows construction of two floors only, and stipulates two-thirds residential and one-third commercial construction.

Cumming, whose firm is one of the listing agents for the property, said that with the cut in price to US$6 million, bidders may be more "motivated" to secure a deal.

She points out that when Digicel placed the Claro building in central New Kingston on the market, it only secured a buyer after successive price cuts. The initial price of US$7 million was first reduced to US$6.9 million and eventually to US$5.3 million, the price at which it sold in 2014.

Digicel came into possession of the 10-storey building when it purchased the operations of Claro Jamaica from America Movil.