After two years of delay, the controversial Grotto apartments at Dalkeith Road, St Michael could finally be occupied by Christmas.
Minister of Housing Denis Kellman said after some setbacks, the first tenants would be moving into one block in time for the holiday.
“I would expect persons to move in before Christmas. It has always been our aim to ensure that was a deliverable. But as you know these things happen, there were a couple blown tiles and we didn’t want people to be in while workmen are working. We have completed a block already and we will now go through and see what else we can do,” Kellman told Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of his annual Christmas party for the children in
The high-rise complex is made up of five blocks altogether, but the minister did not say when the remaining four would be occupied.
“[There are] five blocks in all . . . . That is where a lot of the parking spaces have been taken up. One has to be careful when one considers the location, how many cars you attract to the location and so on because you don’t want to create gridlock,” Kellman explained.
He revealed that the first block would house 16 families, but he did not specify whether they would be low income.
The National Housing Corporation (NHC) apartments were originally intended to be rented out to low-income earners.
However, earlier this year the Opposition Barbados Labour Party charged that three-quarters of the blocks would go to high income earners instead.
Member of Parliament for St James Central Kerrie Symmonds said at the time the BLP had been in possession of documents outlining Government’s plans to rent out 60 of the 80 apartments for $1,500 and upwards monthly to persons earning $5,000 plus.
“Those units were conceived to bring housing resolutions to the poor people of the land. But there is not a citizen of Barbados with an application at the National Housing Corporation that has been told ‘one of those 80 units is for you and your family,’” Symmonds said then.
During the meeting held in April of this year, Symmonds had told the gathering Government had decided since September of last year, ‘that they were going to rent out units up at the Grotto for the maximum possible return. The plan [is] . . . that the first 40 of those units going to people who earn between $6,000 and $5,000 a month . . . for people who can pay $1,800 or $1,900 a month in rent.
“The second 20 of those 80 are to go to people who are able to pay $1,500 a month in rent,” said Symmonds,
Kellman himself had hinted at targeting a more upscale clientele, announcing in January 2015 that the apartments could go on the market for as much as $450,000 each as one way to bring in money for the cash-strapped NHC.