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Hendricksons acquire Bellencita, former home of National Hero Bustamante

Published:Wednesday | March 16, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Businessman and hotelier, Kevin Hendrickson.
R. Danny Williams

Baking Enterprises Limited, a Hendrickson company, has acquired the nine-acre Bellencita estate in Irish Town that was once the home of National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante and Lady Bustamante.

Titles Office records indicate that Baking Enterprises, whose directors include hotelier and bakery owner Kevin Hendrickson and other members of the Hendrickson family, acquired the property from two mortgage providers Scotia Jamaica Building Society and National Housing Trust (NHT).

The property was transferred on February 3 for $60 million, although realtors say the parties had previously reached a deal towards the end of last year.

It is unclear whether the Hendricksons have acquired the property as a commercial or personal asset. Kevin did not respond to requests for comment up to press time, neither did Scotia Jamaica.

"It was up for sale for quite a while and I heard it was sold to the Hendrickson family, yes," said R. Danny Williams, a Jamaican business titan and resident of Irish Town for the last three decades. Williams was at one time interested in developing the property with a partner, but eventually shelved the plan.

Bellencita was acquired by Christopher Paul Webb and Ghazala Avis Webb in May 2000, according to Titles Office records.

Wednesday Business was unable to ascertain why the property fell into the hands of Scotia and the NHT the Webbs were said to be in Canada and were not reached for comment nor the size of the debt at its takeover. The sale to Baking Enterprises was under power of mortgage.

Williams appeared pleased with the sale, saying the new owners will likely restore the home which suffered damage over time.

"It's a nice site, a beautiful site; an absolutely delightful sight," he declared.

"I am glad the Hendricksons bought it because I am sure they will restore it to its former grandeur," Williams said Monday.

Williams about eight years earlier exited plans to develop the lands with Webb to create up to nine lots on the estate.

"That scheme fell through," he said. "We were just subdividing it into lots ... fairly high-end lots, but as I said, that scheme fell through and he offered to give me back the money that I put in it. So I just took back my money. That was probably eight years ago."

However, the estate actually received subdivision approvals for the lots, with the largest lot presumably encompassing the main house.

Irish Town is in the foothills of the Jamaica Blue Mountains or about 20 minutes from the flat lands of St Andrew. News of the sale of the property has spread in the rural community, known for its scenic views and coffee, and the buzz now is all about what the Hendricksons plan to do with the asset.

Much of its value lies in its historic ties to Sir Alexander and Lady Gladys as the couple's retirement home, but it is not on the heritage site listings. The Jamaica National Heritage Trust otherwise lists Bustamante's residence at Tucker Avenue in St Andrew.

Bellencita includes four bedrooms and staff quarters attached to the main house. It was constructed in the late 1960s for the Bustamantes.

Bustamante became the first prime minister of independent Jamaica in 1962. In 1969, he was conferred with the Order of National Hero along with his cousin, Norman Washington Manley. He resided at Bellencita with his wife until his death in 1977. Lady Bustamante passed away in 2009, but Webb had bought the property long before then around 2000.

Williams said that Webb, who lives between Canada and Jamaica, bought the home and lived there for a few years.

"He lived in Canada, came home, then went back to Canada. He lived here for a few years," Williams said.