Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Joe Bogdanovich not stretched thin by recent investments

Published:Wednesday | July 20, 2016 | 7:00 AMSteven Jackson
Joe Bogdanovich, investor and CEO of Downsound Records.

Joe Bogdanovich, an American investor resident in Jamaica, is investing in The Renfrew hotel alongside business partner Evan Williams, but he is not inclined to disclose his level of interest in the project.

At the launch of the project on Monday, politicians described the project in laudatory terms as the second hotel built from scratch in Kingston in decades.

The cost to construct will run in the region of US$7 million, but Bogdanovich declined to say how much of that he will fund.

"I do not want to talk about the money," Bogdanovich told Gleaner Business at the hotel site on Renfrew Road.

He described the investment in the hospitality sector as carefully timed and "confidently taken", especially since demand for hotel rooms in Kingston is at an "all-time high".

Construction started two months ago on The Renfrew, evidenced by two storeys of earth removed to lay the foundation for the hotel. The project represents the latest of several local investments by Bogdanovich in two years.

Asked whether his investments might be paced too close together, Bogdanovich appeared to disagree, while focusing his response on his largest acquisition, Hardware & Lumber.

"A lot of people tell me that, but ... there is a lot of growth potential here," he said.

"Hardware & Lumber is a great company, and since we've owned it ... the cash flow is 90 per cent above a year ago and also there is 45 per cent higher profitability. It's a big company and undervalued ... and we are hitting our targets," Bogdanovich said. The retail chain was acquired at the end of 2015.

Bogdanovich started living in Jamaica in 1999, but over the last 24 months he has expanded from music to corporate circles with a string of multimillion-dollar investments. He is best known for his music production company Downsound Records. Now he is also invested in: KLE Group, which operates Usain Bolt's Tracks & Records; Hardware & Lumber; Sumfest music festival; and now The Renfrew.

"I think this will be a hotel that will be very comfortable for people coming from, say, New York," he said.

The boutique hotel, set for opening on October 28, 2017, will offer 32 exclusive high-end units and eight serviced luxury apartments. Unit sizes will vary from regular guestrooms to guest rooms with kitchenette and penthouse suites with balcony. Prices range from US$135,000 to US$330,000. The hotel will be operated as a buy-and-leaseback development.

"My partner and I have a vested interest in seeing the city's entertainment options improve. So, believe me, there'll be demand for our rooms," Bogdanovich said in a prepared release.

The hotel is being constructed on property that up to recently housed Evan Williams' offices.

"Kingston's status as the seat of government and centre of diplomatic and business activity continues to generate demand for hotel accommodation above and beyond that generated by tourist traffic," said Williams, an architect of the firm Design Collaborative.

The Renfrew hotel project was first conceived in 2006 by Williams.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com