Tue | Apr 24, 2018

Edgehill backer claims control of development

Published:Sunday | January 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
An overhead view of the Gates of Edgehill real estate development in St Mary.

David Morrison, president of Morrison Financial, now claims to be the principal developer of the Gates of Edgehill residential project in St Mary, based on an agreement with former head, Rollyn Bennett.

Morrison says his firm is fully backing the Edgehill development, which comprises around 300 three-bedroom housing units.

The property comprises three loops of development, each separated by green areas, and phase one is close to completion, with all shells poured for the first loop, he said.

Bennett, who was still being identified by the Real Estate Board at year end as the developer, told Gleaner Business just over a week ago that the project would now cost around US$85 million to US$90 million.

Morrison objected to the story, saying Bennett was no longer in charge. He said the budget for the project was US$70 million over its three phases, plus US$7 million for contingencies, and that Morrison had spent US$13 million on the project to date.

He affirmed that Bennett's company, Edgehill Homes Limited, remains the vehicle through which the project is being pursued and the one registered with the Real Estate Board.

Morrison Financial, which is based in Toronto Canada, has a 40 per cent equity stake in Edgehill Homes, while Bennett owns 60 per cent of the company. Morrison said that as full backer of the project, Morrison Financial has effective control over it.

Several efforts to speak with Bennett on Friday were unsuccessful. The Real Estate Board also said it was unable to give immediate feedback on the issue.

"I am not trying to make Mr Bennett look bad, but the fact of the matter is that since the end of 2015 he has not been involved in the project at all. I have sent a copy of an agreement that confirms that. And if you ask him he will have to admit that. I don't know why he spoke as if he was the developer. He should not have done that," Morrison said Friday.

"Edgehill Homes Limited is the Jamaican company. I am president of the company," he asserted. Mr Bennett has no involvement in the project. He has no money invested in it," he said.

Morrison said that all employees and officers of the company are now being paid by Morrison Financial, which has set up offices on the grounds of the Edgehill complex as the project proceeds.

"We are now in control of that company," he said.

Phase one comprises 108 houses, but the price of the units is still being decided, Morrison told Gleaner Business, while noting that he expects the least expensive unit to sell for around US$240,000. The houses are designed in two sizes - 1,500 square feet and 1,900 square feet.

He adds that the company has had about 200 expressions of interest in the units, which so far have only been promoted in the diaspora, and that sales are likely to begin in February.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com