The National Housing Corporation’s (NHC) new high-rise apartments at The Grotto which were to be rented out to low-income earners could go on the market for as much as $450,000 each if Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman has his way.
He suggested that the NHC could go the route of selling the units as one way to bring in money for the cash-strapped agency.
Kellman said while it was not a decision he alone could make, selling the apartments on the open market was a “possibility”.
“A lot of people believe that once it is Government that Government should not be able to sell at open market. The only way that we can reduce the deficit at NHC is by doing the same thing,” Kellman told the media last night after addressing a meeting of the St James North branch of the Democratic Labour Party.
“In order for NHC to improve its cash flow, the first thing it has to do is to sell the properties and that has been our priority and that’s what we are seeking to do. We are making progress on all sites.”
The high-rise complex at The Grotto, Beckles Road, St Michael, comprising five apartment buildings, consisting of 16 units each on four levels, was to be completed by last September. However, landscaping and other final touches are still being done.
“That is a property that we have to think about it. The cost is of about $450,000 per unit, including land, and in light of the economic situation at NHC we have to be very careful how we approach that . . . It does not make sense having a location like the one we have and not thinking about it,” Kellman added.
“We have taxpayers’ money, we have to ensure that we maximize the usage and that we concentrate on also ensuring we don’t just rent to poor people, that we find a way where we can give poor people land where they can own their property.”
Assuring that the units would give value for money Kellman compared them to what he said was being sold across Barbados.
“There are some units that are being sold for $400,000 and when you look at them they don’t look [anything] like those. Location of any asset is the key, and when you have the right location you have to ask yourself . . . ‘what is the next best choice?”
Construction on the apartment complex by Preconco Limited began on April 1, 2013.
Each apartment is 650 square feet.
However, Kellman indicated that The Grotto site was not the only one the NHC wanted to take to the market.
He identified the Exmouth Gardens high-rise project as another one on the radar.
“It has a view of the port, it has a lovely beach, so should the NHC ignore all of those things and not make certain decisions to suit that?” Kellman questioned.