Bernard Lodge houses to be delivered by next March
The problem-plagued Bernard Lodge housing project is to be completed by next March, Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies has promised.
Davies, in a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said that Cabinet has given approval for the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) to re-configure the project and engage in negotiations with Herzog Jamaica Limited to design, finance and construct the housing project.
"The start-up date for this project will be within 14 days of the effective date of the agreement, and construction of the approximately 300-350 units in Phase I will be completed by the end of the current financial year. It means that the depositors, and other prospective purchasers who have demonstrated patience and confidence in the HAJ, can be placed in possession of their homes no later than the beginning of the 2016-2017 financial year," the minister said.
Davies said that the HAJ commenced negotiations with Herzog and this led to the preparation of a draft Public-Private Partnership Agreement (PPPA). The agreement, he said, has been subject to review by the Attorney General's Chambers.
Under the agreement, persons who left their money with the HAJ will be able to purchase houses at the originally stated sales prices with a five per cent escalation cost. It means that studio units will be delivered at approximately $4 million each and one-bedroom units at $4.9 million.
Located in St Catherine, the Bernard Lodge Estates development is approximately five minutes' drive from Spanish Town square. It is bounded by Highway 2000 to the South, in the vicinity of Lime Tree Grove, Quarry Hill and March Pen Road.
issues with co-developer
The project should have been delivered from March 2014 but problems with co-developer Malphrus Incorporated, which had partnered the HAJ in the public-private venture, led to works being grounded. To date, all that has been done is the excavation of two ponds to facilitate storm-water management, the scribing of 100 per cent of the roads in Phase 2, the construction of two model units
- one studio and a one-bedroom, as well as the erection of security fencing for the site office and a storage yard.
Davies said on Tuesday that the Cabinet has ratified the termination of the PPPA with Malphrus for the financing and construction of the project.
The minister said that the 262 depositors who have not requested a refund of approximately $113.1 million need not worry as their funds are safe and are being held in an escrow account by the HAJ.