Letter of the Day | Jamaica will benefit from St Ann property deal
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Re the Vaz-UDC saga. Let me be clear from the start that I am a connected person, as I am a director of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC). I am a retired commission land surveyor, and the people of Montego Bay will tell you that I put the success of my country before all else.
I was very disturbed by the recent report by the former contractor general that we had approved the sale of the Rooms on the Beach property in Ocho Rios, St Ann, to Puerto Caribe Properties Ltd, the operators of Moon Palace Hotels, at an amount that was substantially below the market price, and that we appeared to be instructed so to do by Minister Daryl Vaz.
Let me clearly state that the chairman and board of the UDC is an independent group of people of the highest integrity who would not be taking instructions from anybody.
We made a business decision based on a massive development plan that would be a game changer for the tourism industry and the town of Ocho Rios.
The major component of the valuation of the land is based on the market price of similar properties that have been sold recently.
What has not been taken into account is that the building (hotel) on the property will be demolished and, therefore, will be of no value to the development, nor was the condition of the beach taken into account. The developers intend to spend over US$500 million on their hotel development and have also committed to develop other aspects of the town.
I, therefore, consider the difference between sale price and the market value as seed money, which the Government will recover within the first year of operation.
PATTERSON DID IT, TOO
Interestedly, the Hon PJ Patterson used the same type of incentive to sell back much of the Rose Hall lands to John Rollins.
As a result, the country has gained many projects, including the development of the Rose Hall Highway (the Elegant Corridor), two championship golf courses, four mega hotels, two shopping centres, many attractions and a central sewerage system, all of which have produced revenues for the Government that far exceeded the discounted price of the original sale.
If Mr Rollins had lived longer, I know much more would have been done but even so, we see the area has attracted many more developments, including the creation of the Montego Bay Convention Centre and there is the potential of three more mega hotels that are in the planning stage.
I believe that we will be proved right and will cause Ocho Rios to become even more prosperous than it is now.
We thank Daryl Vaz for his efforts in inviting Moon Palace to invest in Jamaica.
H. WINSTON R. DEAR, CD, JP