The takeover of Palmyra

Published: Wednesday | July 27, 2011 Comments 0
A section of Palmyra Resort & Spa under construction.
A section of Palmyra Resort & Spa under construction.
Robert Trotta, founder/developer of the Palmyra Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St James. - File
Robert Trotta, founder/developer of the Palmyra Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St James. - File

Robert Trotta is said to be in a tussle with his Jamaican bankers to regain control of his luxury beachfront resort complex, Palmyra, which they took over on the weekend, different sources have confirmed.

Trotta has at least a US$22-million loan with RBC Royal Bank Jamaica, formerly RBTT, and a US$88-million loan with National Commercial Bank secured by debenture dated 2007 - amounting to US$110 million, according to information filed with the Companies Office of Jamaica.

The size of the outstanding debts was not ascertained.

The bankers have hired Ken Tomlinson as receiver. Tomlinson has put together a team that includes hotelier Sam James, who formerly worked with SuperClubs, to manage the property, well-placed sources said. Reached Monday night, Tomlinson said he would not comment on the takeover.

Palmyra Resort and Spa has been under construction since 2005, first as beachfront condominiums, but was later converted to a hotel complex.

The development project was valued initially at US$150 million or J$10.2 billion, but the cost was revised in 2007 to an estimated US$176 million, or J$12.6b. Some of the condos, to be spread across three towers - two of which are said to have beencompleted - were priced above US$1 million.

The financing deal for the property was arranged by NCB's corporate banking unit.

Trotta declined comment when reached by Wednesday Business, but insisted when pressed that he had no knowledge of the takeover. However, well-placed sources say he is still negotiating heavily with the banks to regain control of the incomplete development.

Trotta confirmed a meeting was set.

"I have a meeting with the banks to discuss where we are, but nothing like that to my knowledge," he said of the takeover.

Trotta, an American with investments and ties to Italy, went on to say that the Palmyra is in full operation, with no new management in place, and that he meets with the banks regularly.

"We have a construction loan and advances so we meet every week to give a progress report," he explained.

RBC Royal Bank referred Wednesday Business to Tomlinson and NCB's head of corporate banking, Marjorie Seebaran. Efforts to reach Seebaran were unsuccessful.

The Palmyra Resort and Spa Development, located at Rose Hall in Montego Bay, is Jamaica's first luxury beachfront residential community.

The resort was first launched in January 2005, offering one-, two- and three-bedroom condos ranging from 716 to 2,181 square feet in size, and priced at US$300 to US$1.4 million each.

Since then, it has been upgraded into a hotel complex of 299 units, including penthouses and 11 villas.

Sources say about 60 per cent of the condos have been sold.

It is still to be determined, if there is no resolution through Trotta, whether the banks will sell the development en bloc to a developer to complete the project, or condo by condo, informed sources say. Meetings with staff and other parties were said to be ongoing up to yesterday.

business@gleanerjm.com

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