Gov't asset sell-off - UDC to divest state-owned properties this week
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) is poised this week to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars from the long-overdue divestment of several public assets in the Corporate Area and St Catherine.
K.D. Knight, the UDC's chairman, said the corporation is on the verge of selling six government properties. Five of the properties being divested are located in downtown Kingston. They are the Machado building, the Oceana hotel, which currently houses the Ministry of Health, the JAMINTEL building, the Victoria Pier, as well as a plot of land that is currently lying idle.
The Forum hotel, located in Portmore, St Catherine, will also change ownership, as the UDC has found a buyer.
Knight, while not disclosing the amount for which the properties are to be sold, said much of the proceeds are to be pumped back into the development of downtown Kingston as Jamaica positions itself to be a logistics hub in the Americas.
Knight said the UDC should be receiving payment for the Machado property this week. That building is being sold for $104.5 million.
Meanwhile, the UDC chairman said sale contracts are also expected to be entered into this week for the abandoned JAMINTEL building and the Forum hotel.
With the contracts yet to be signed, Knight has declined to divulge the figure he expects to receive for the properties.
He revealed that negotiations for the sale of the Oceana hotel at the Kingston waterfront are far advanced. "We expect to enter into contract a little further down the line, but not too far," he said.
Meanwhile, once the pulse of cigarette-manufacturing operations in Jamaica, the Machado building is set to become an integral part of the country's effort to establish itself as a global logistics hub.
The Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which purchased the property for $80 million in 2010, is offloading for it $104 million.
Machado is a 3.5-acre complex located at 22-26 Victoria Avenue, near the heart of downtown Kingston.
Knight, while not disclosing the buyer, said the Machado building will be refurbished and is to be used as a training facility, which will be operated by the HEART Trust/NTA and the Overseas Examinations Commission.
"In order to occupy, the structure will have to be refurbished to facilitate the training of Jamaicans from the professional to the unskilled levels," he asserted.
"On completion, it is going to mean that there is an important training centre in downtown Kingston to provide the training that will be necessary to support projects like the logistics hub and the planned trans-shipment facility," Knight added.
The UDC chairman said similar arrangements are in train for the JAMINTEL building in downtown Kingston and the Forum hotel, which are also being sold.
"In order for them to be put to use, there will have to be a lot of refurbishing," Knight said.