Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter
KLE Group Limited and partner Sagicor have named their first real estate development, Bessa, which is intended to hit the market by mid-2015, according to KLE CEO Gary Matalon.
Preliminary work on the Bessa project is underway following the execution of a partnership agreement between KLE and Sagicor Life Jamaica Limited in May.
The partners are investing US$7.6 million in the lifestyle-themed villa community, which sits on eight acres of land in St Mary.
"We had pretty much agreed on some basic terms with Sagicor on Bessa before the IPO. Basically, we are going through the legal process now," said Matalon.
KLE has taken a 25 per cent stake in a development company formed by the partners to execute the project, and Sagicor owns the other 75 per cent, he said, but did not disclose the name of the entity. KLE contributed the land to the project.
"KLE has dealt with the concept development from a design perspective and they (Sagicor) are providing the overall expertise in executing this level of development, as well as bringing the financing, which is a big thing for us," he said.
Sagicor's main business is insurance but it also operates in the real estate market through subsidiary Sagicor Property Services Limited. KLE is an entertainment company that went public last October.
Bessa will provide 45 villas, all of which will be sold, said Matalon. But the partners will manage the complex.
"Although we are going to manage the property and rent the units, which owners choose to rent, it will not be operated as a resort with a specific opening date. As soon as owners take possession of their units they would be utilising the property," he said.
A clean-up and restoration project is in progress at the north coast property to facilitate sightseeing and showings of the site, while the application and approval process for building permits is underway, Matalon said.
The company already allows visits by tourists and locals who wish to experience the hatching of the Hawksbill turtle, which will become a permanent feature at Bessa, he said.
"Bessa is moving full speed ahead. The board of the development company, made up of Sagicor and KLE representatives, has engaged the professional team and planning and design are in full swing."
Bordered in the north by the beach and to the east by a river, Bessa will replace the old Golden Seas Resort in Oracabessa. The property sits adjacent to "some of the GoldenEye properties owned by Christ Blackwell," Matalon said.
"The concept is a little bit different. It's about a customised lifestyle experience, a villa location that will feature a menu of activities. If you want to have a chef do a private dinner for you in your villa, or you want to have a photography lesson on Saturday morning, or a yoga class at sunset, all of these various things will be available to the people that are going there to stay," he said.
The project is set for completion in July 2015 and has remained within the projected cost, Matalon said.
He expects the project to create up to 40 full-time jobs.
"While we await the completion of the building permit process, we are finalising the marketing strategy and look to begin selling as soon as we are given the green light from the relevant authorities," he said.