Tue | Aug 21, 2018

NHT incurring $1.2 million monthly to maintain Outameni property

Published:Monday | November 24, 2014 | 5:44 PM

Damion Mitchell, Editor - Radio & Online

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

It’s costing the National Housing Trust (NHT) $1.2 million a month to maintain the Orange Grove property in Trelawny while it tries to make a decision on how to develop the Outameni assets.

The monthly expense covers security, maintenance and the six members of staff employed to run the property.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the NHT is unable to say whether there could be further expenses to acquire the intellectual property and chattels of the Outameni Experience Attraction.

The Trust has spent $180 million to acquire 9.12 acres of the Orange Grove property on which the attraction is located.

However, it has not bought the name of the attraction or the fixtures there.

The NHT chairman, Easton Douglas, this morning called a press conference to respond to concerns surrounding the controversial property purchase.

At the very outset, Douglas highlighted the possible source of the controversy.

He said in his early pronouncement about the acquisition, he may not have explained the distinction between the terminologies – the 'Outameni business' and the ‘Orange Grove property’.

An NHT team had advised against the purchase of the property for housing purposes so why did the board pursue the investment?

Douglas said the actual recommendation by the NHT team was that the land would not be suitable for affordable housing but instead for cultural and heritage purposes.

Douglas says that’s exactly why the board approved the purchase.

"The property offered for purchase to the NHT was in keeping with the Board's deliberations concerning a Jamaica 50 legacy project, and was consistent with the NHT's mandate to create recreational, social and physical facilities in support of its current and future housing developments in that area of Trelawny," he said.

But Douglas says the NHT has put on hold plans to develop the attraction because of the public outrage.

He could not say when the development of the property would begin noting that

there would first have to be a re-evaluation of the public’s response to today's explanation by the NHT board.

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