Wed | Feb 26, 2020

Returning residents enter real estate market with St Mary project

Published:Friday | January 24, 2020 | 12:23 AMHuntley Medley - Senior Business Writer

Beverly Salu grew up in the taxi business.

Her late mother, Icolyn Chung, owned and operated Yellow and Checker Cabs, two of the earliest taxi businesses in Jamaica.

In the 1990s, Salu and her Nigeria-born husband Yomi Salu operated their own taxi business in Kingston before migrating in 2003 to the United States, where they invested in building, buying, remodelling and selling residential properties.

Now back in Jamaica since 2010, the entrepreneurs, who have been married since 1973, are investing about US$3 million to build 42 three-bedroom homes, each complete with solar power, in St Mary, a gated community named The Sanctuary at Farm Hill.

The development is being undertaken by their company, Three Views Developers Limited, which they own jointly with their daughter, Shari Salu, and which was incorporated in 2015. The development is being self-financed from returns on previous investments and no debt financing is currently being considered for the project.

The open-floor plan homes are being built on 20 acres of land at Farm Hill, near Gayle and Retreat in St Mary, which the Salus purchased in 2012. They say the project site is about 10 miles from Ocho Rios, a prime resort town in St Ann.

With the development said to have been conceptualised since around 2013, Three Views is now going to market with two models – The Retreat, a 2,360-square-foot construction with three bedrooms and three bathrooms priced at US$239,950; and The Content, a 1,704-square-foot home, also with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, priced at US$209,000. Lot sizes are being advertised as being a minimum one-quarter acre with space for individual swimming pools. The development is expected to feature a hiking trail, waterfalls, and a bird sanctuary.

The Salus say permits from the National Environment and Planning Agency, the St Mary Municipal Corporation, and The Real Estate Board were received four years ago. Model units have been constructed and the development is being marketed in Jamaica and overseas to potential returning residents in the Jamaican diaspora.

Construction of units will begin, they say, after groups of 10 homes are sold. Delivery of the units is expected to be made within four months of construction start.

The site is said to have already been provided with asphalted roads and other infrastructure.

“ … The signature feature of the homes will be the 6 kV solar panels installed in all units, with purchasers having the option of being totally off the grid with battery packs or being grid-tied and possibly selling excess energy to the power company, or alternating between Jamaica Public Service-provided power and their solar-generated energy,” Yomi Salu said in an interview with the Financial Gleaner.

Discussions with the power company for possible grid-tie arrangements will be the responsibility of individual homeowners, he said.

The contractor for The Sanctuary is said to be George Henry of Construction Company with the architect being Junior Smart and the law firm Nunes, Scholefield, DeLeon & Company, providing legal services to the developers.

The Salus see themselves as innovators in business.

The couple recounted that having seen the huge costs racked up in damages to Yellow and Checker Cab vehicles by drivers who were not owner of the units, to avoid that situation recurring in their taxi business of the 1990s, the vehicles were leased to the drivers, who paid for them over a period of between two to three years.

“It is that innovative and solution-oriented spirit that we are taking to this real estate investment by offering significantly more value to the potential homeowners than some other developments offer,” said Beverly Salu, a Howard University-trained pharmacist by profession.

Her husband is a communications graduate of Howard. It’s where the couple met; and their business partner and daughter Shari Salu is also a graduate of Howard University School of Law.

At the height of their US-based real estate business, the Salus say they owned 17 properties in Florida and Maryland. While their two daughters have made the United States their home, Yomi and Beverly, who also lived briefly in Lagos, Nigeria, say Jamaica is their home and they are happier living and doing business here.

huntley.medley@gleanerjm.com