Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Henry scraps Transport Authority plan for Jamintel building

Published:Sunday | January 29, 2017 | 1:00 AMTameka Gordon
The old Jamintel building.

The Transport Authority (TA) has shelved plans to relocate its Maxfield Avenue Offices to the old Jamaica International Telecommunications Limited (Jamintel) building in downtown Kingston.

A review of its decision to buy the 60,676 square-foot property from the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in 2003 was ordered by in last year by Transport and Mining minister, Mike Henry, shortly after he took office.

"Based on the outcome of the review, the Transport Authority will not proceed with the renovation and utilisation of the building for its corporate offices," the agency told Gleaner Business via email.

TA said going ahead with plans hatched over six years ago to house its operations at the Jamintel building "would not be the most cost effective use of the Transport Authority resources."

Cabinet had approved $370 million of expenditure to renovate the building in 2015, following the initial $150 million spent by the Transport Authority acquire the property which sits at the corner of Duke Street and North Street.

Plans to renovate the building were stymied when the TA indicated that it was awaiting approvals from parish planning authority KSAC and other relevant agencies.

The Transport Authority is now looking to sell the building to recover the funds it invested in the acquisition, but the agency did not say what its asking price would be for the building.

NO CLARITY ABOUT NEW LOCATION

It is also unclear where the agency will now look to locate its offices, which it previously indicated, are bursting at the seams. The Jamintel building was once the island's hub for telecommunications before it was shuttered in 2004.

Another state agency, National Housing Trust (NHT), acquired the building from Cable & Wireless Jamaica Limited for $76.1 million in 2005.

Initially, the housing agency planned to swap the building for property on Hope Road used as headquarters for the police commissioner - prime real estate which sits in the so-called Golden Triangle. The NHT planned to convert the Hope Road property into upscale town houses aimed at young professionals.

Over the years, several plans have been hatched for the use of the Jamintel building, including housing the Traffic and Family Courts, none of which came to fruition.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com