Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Old Auburn Court redevelopment still in limbo

Published:Friday | October 23, 2015 | 10:01 AM
Dawkins Brown, managing partner of UHY Dawgen Chartered Accountants.

Dawkins Brown, managing partner of accounting firm UHY Dawgen, says he is still unable to proceed with the refurbishment of the old Auburn Court building because of planning roadblocks.

The building was bought by UHY Dawgen in February 2014 from Jamaica Redevelopment Foundation Inc.

The firm began transforming the building into an office centre, but a stop order was placed on the renovation works in mid-2014 by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC). It remains in force.

Brown insists that he has met all requirements.

"We have complied with KSAC requests and submitted all required documents and plans, and we expect approval. With regard to comments from some special-interest groups, we will not allow evil forces to prevail and hold back entrepreneurship," he told Financial Gleaner.

A KSAC representative said that deliberations continue, but declined to specify the precise nature of the hold-up.

The property, which sits at the corner of Trinidad Terrace and St Lucia Avenue in New Kingston, has been the subject of controversy throughout its history.

The building was started in the 1980s by entrepreneur Delbert Perrier, but became embroiled in a long legal battle when the KSAC placed its initial stop order on construction because Perrier, in breach of his building permit, increased its height from four to six floors.

The building subsequently fell into the hands of Perrier's bankers, setting off another set of legal squabbles, which came to an end when Perrier died in the 2000s. All that time, the building sat as an eyesore in the business district.

The property was bought by UHY Dawgen in February, representing a US$3.7-million investment - funds that Dawkins said covered the purchase price as well as the renovation programme.

The building is to be branded St Lucia Towers on completion of the repairs.

Dawkins has suggested that he intends to tap clients from the business process outsourcing sector for the towers.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com