Wed | Dec 13, 2017

KPREIT offloads Westmoreland property

Published:Wednesday | September 27, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Kevin Richards, CEO of Kingston Properties Limited.

Real estate investment trust Kingston Properties Limited, or KPREIT, sold its landholding in Westmoreland for $21 million, but the company has not given up on plans for future real estate projects as a developer.

KPREIT's portfolio consists of properties it acquired in Jamaica, Florida and Cayman Island, and the Westmoreland holding was to be its first attempt at virgin development.

"We are still open to the idea, but we need the right partner who knows the sector and has money," said CEO of Kingston Properties Kevin Richards.

On Monday, KPREIT advised the market that it completed the sale of the 20-acre property at Waterworks in Westmoreland. The company had planned to build 105 low-to mid-income homes on the 20-acre Waterworks lands, aimed at tourism workers, in partnership with Cemex Jamaica.

"Because of the location, we thought it was good for housing for hotel workers," Richards said of the site, which is in the same parish as the report town of Negril.

He declined to name the buyers but indicated that they would likely seek to develop the land into housing.

"It is a group of private investors, but I cannot disclose their names," he said.

KPREIT bought the land for $15 million and subsequently disclosed plans to develop it for housing with partner Cemex Jamaica at an estimated cost of $700 million. In May 2016, the company advised that the partnership had been dissolved. It happened with a change of CEO of the Mexican-owned subsidiary. The development didn't fit into the new vision of Cemex and both parties sought to nullify the memorandum of understanding, for which KPREIT was compensated by Cemex Jamaica.

KPREIT sought initially to find a replacement developer but eventually shelved the plan and put the property up for sale last year.

Meantime, the real estate investment trust is chasing other property deals.

"We are always looking for deals and it is possible that we could close another deal before the year is out," Richards said without disclosing the targeted geographic location or financial details of the pending transactions.

Kingston Properties' total assets are estimated at $2.6 billion. The US-based properties account for 54 per cent of its "portfolio mix", Jamaica 32 per cent, and Cayman 14 per cent.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com