Fri | Nov 15, 2019

Proven pitching $21m studio as middle-class housing

Published:Wednesday | November 6, 2019 | 12:10 AMSteven Jackson/ - Senior Business Reporter
Christopher Williams, CEO of Proven Management Limited and chairman of Proven REIT Limited.  FILE
Christopher Williams, CEO of Proven Management Limited and chairman of Proven REIT Limited. FILE

Proven REIT began pitching its latest residential development to prospective buyers at the weekend, with starting prices of $21 million for the smallest studio units.

The project, slated for Braemar Avenue in New Kingston, is to be called VIA.

Christopher Williams, who heads Proven Management Limited and is the chairman of Proven REIT, says the price is geared at the middle class, at an event held at the AC Marriott Kingston hotel, located up the road from Braemar on Lady Musgrave Road.

“We want to demonstrate that Jamaica is more than uptown people. We are talking about the middle class now ––It is a word that we forgot about,” said Williams at the launch of VIA on Sunday.

“All we talk about is uptown and downtown. What about us middle -class people who are trying to make ends meet. We can live comfortably, too, and that is what Proven REIT is demonstrating with VIA,” he said.

The price quoted for the studio is 60 per cent above the average mortgage, which a real estate expert placed at $13 million at a think tank forum earlier this year.

Williams described the middle class as ignored in modern lifestyle developments. He argued that the launch of VIA on Braemar Avenue, Proven’s latest development, would address this underserved market.

“Jamaica is building back it’s middle class. As the middle class we are back, and we are going to put our foot down and will ensure that we have a stake in this island,” said Williams. “We are not going to let the island get cut up into pieces for uptown and leave us with nothing. The middle class is here to stay.”

The VIA development will offer 99 apartments consisting of 51 studios, 30 one-bedroom units and 18 two-bedroom units. The 10-storey complex will offer a sky pool, gym, café and other services.

The starting prices for the units are $21 million for studios, $27 million for one-bedrooms, $40 million for two-bedrooms, and $45 million for penthouse units.

VM financing

Victoria Mutual Building Society will offer up to 100 per cent financing for the residence, at loan rates that Williams said would see the monthly mortgage payment for the studio amounting to $130,000 a month for the studios – a cost he compared to coffee consumption.

“That’s 130 lattes a month. So if you drink two lattes a day, all you have to do is stop drinking one, and you can afford VIA. So don’t think it is unachievable,” he said.

The VIA development is scheduled for completion in July 2020, and is already 85 per cent sold out, Proven REIT said.

CEO of Proven REIT Aisha Campbell told the Financial Gleaner that potential buyers will receive a 7.0 per cent discount in November.

The Proven REIT chairman’s comments are an indication of where developers see the market trending. But there are concerns in the real estate sector that urban housing is being priced out of the reach of some professionals.

The issue was raised in March by Dr Dana Morris Dixon, assistant general manager at JN Group – Jamaica’s largest mortgage provider in the private market – a Budget review forum hosted by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute.

Citing current data, Dixon said the average mortgage of $13 million was obviously not affordable for the average working Jamaican.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com