Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Outameni going back on the market

Published:Friday | July 22, 2016 | 7:00 AMTameka Gordon
Outameni Experience in Trelawny was a source of controversy after the NHT bought the failing attraction.

The Board of the National Housing Trust (NHT) will put the Outameni attraction back on the market in a renewed effort to entice a buyer.

"The board has authorised management to re-advertise the property for sale or lease," said Ambassador Nigel Clarke, newly appointed NHT chairman, but he gave no indication of when this will be done.

"Hopefully, there will be a response that the board can accept but, of course, that is by no means guaranteed," Clarke said via email.

The controversial 2013 purchase of the Orange Grove, Trelawny-based Outameni property by the NHT - then characterised by the housing development agency as a social investment - sparked discussions about whether the Trust had deviated from its core mandate of providing affordable housing for contributors whose monies are taken at source from their income.

Since then, the Trust has tried unsuccessfully to offload the attraction. Last September, the property was advertised for sale, but there were no takers. The board then said it was open to leasing the property, with the same result.

The NHT acquired the nine-acre Orange Grove property for $180 million and had projected additional spend of $111 million over three years to revamp the product.

Meanwhile, Clarke said the composition and terms of reference of the NHT strategic review committee are being finalised.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered a strategic review of the Trust last week, aimed at determining the best use of NHT funds, among other issues.

The review is expected to consider proposals by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) set out in a paper on the viability and function of the Trust, released earlier this year by the think tank. But Clarke also said NHT would otherwise be responding to the CaPRI report "in full prior to the commencement of the NHT strategic review process."

The NHT chairman has not said when the review itself would begin.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com