Mon | Sep 23, 2019

Coldwell Banker pumps $40m into another downtown renovation

Published:Wednesday | July 31, 2019 | 12:06 AMKarena Bennett/Business Reporter

Coldwell Banker Realty Jamaica will redevelop and offer for lease a property acquired at the intersection of Harbour Street and West Street in Kingston for just over $40 million, says Construction Project Manager Peter Issa.

The redevelopment, tagged ‘Another Downtown Renovation’, covers 4,000 square feet of space and forms part of several downtown Kingston properties purchased and developed by Coldwell Banker over the past five years.

A neighbouring property for parking of up to 32 vehicles was also acquired by the realty firm, which is headed by Issa’s father and well-known realtor, Andrew Issa.

“It’s a two-storey shell and we have parking next door. Parking is a big part of getting buildings rented or sold downtown,” Peter Issa told the Financial Gleaner.

Renovation of the property got under way roughly a month ago with planned completion for the end of October. Space on the building will be leased at US$14 to US$16 per square foot, per annum.

“The plan is to keep the façade as it is and we are going to be doing a steel-framed building on the inside with new electrical and plumbing,” Issa said.

“We are looking more towards fast-food type businesses, but the space is suitable for any kind of business venture because of the parking. Come-and-go businesses like a Starbucks, Pizza Hut or a law office would do well there,” he said.

BRINGING BACK DOWNTOWN

Issa noted that he has been receiving calls for lease of the space since the work started on the building but has not yet signed off on a tenant.

“We are going to wait until the building gets closer to completion before we sign,” he said.

He added that the decision to acquire the property four months ago was partly based on it being the first building on Harbour Street from individuals travelling from Marcus Garvey Drive. At the opposite end, Andrew Issa also redeveloped the building at 59½ Harbour Street. The building was occupied by the outsourcing unit started by accounting firm KPMG Jamaica, called KPMG Extended Support Service or K-Jess, late last year.

“We loved the façade of the building. We are very strong on bringing back that downtown look, not just knocking down and rebuilding, but maintaining the characteristics and the historic feel,” Issa said.

The Issa family has been capitalising on the urban incentive programme managed by the Urban Development Corporation. The programme offers tax relief on capital investments in either land or buildings in downtown Kingston, whether residential or commercial, in hopes of injecting new life into the city’s dilapidated infrastructure.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com