As promised, insurance giant Sagicor Financial Corporation has launched the first phase of a multi-million dollar senior citizens retirement village project in St George.
The Estates of St George retirement community is being seen by officials as a vote of confidence and a main earner of revenue for the local economy.
Addressing a sod turning ceremony at the location on Friday evening Sagicor Group Chairman Stephen McNamara said with almost 13 per cent of the island’s population being over the age of 55, he believed the investment was timely.
The $170 million investment, which was first made public in December last year, forms part of a wider $400-plus million planned investment for the company. This phase will consist of just over 328 units on about 19 acres of land in Boarded Hall, St George.
“When complete, this project will make a direct contribution to the economy from the generation of net foreign exchange earnings through direct investment. It will also generate employment not only in welfare, but in construction, tourism and in the general services and supply sectors,” said the Sagicor boss.
“Essential to the operations of this facility is the requirement for trained medical specialists and caregivers,” he said, adding that key partnerships would be formed between Sagicor, operators of Origin Inc. in Canada and the Barbados Community College to constantly train and retrain caregivers.
There will be 176 stylish independent living residences for sale, each with access to a range of amenities, 40 catered living one and two-bedroom apartments for rent, 28 respite care and rehab rental suits for rent with their own amenities, and 84 skilled nursing and memory care suites for rent, all of which will be done in phases.
While infrastructure work will begin immediately, construction on the state-of-the-art Estates at St George community is scheduled for the first quarter of 2020, and officials are hoping that the first residents will be able to move in by the end of the next year.
McNamara said the country stood to gain immediate tax revenues through job creation, adding that Sagicor would also create long-term investment instruments in both local and foreign currencies for local and international investors.
“In short, the possibilities and the advantages are boundless,” he said.
“This project therefore illustrates our confidence and commitment to Barbados and the wider Caribbean and we commit to the pursuit of opportunities where we can contribute to establishing the region as a force with which to be reckoned,” he added.
Welcoming the project, Prime Minister Mia Mottley reiterated her call for investors to come forward and invest in major projects here, while insisting that Barbados is opened for business.
She said the project “represents a perfect confluence of what Barbados’ future and immediate future must be about”.
“I am happy that Sagicor has taken a lead in this area,” she said.
“Barbados is open for business, and Barbados is not only open for business, but if you understand the essence of who we are the essence of the balance we want to bring towards making sure that there is a win-win situation for anyone, that we can create a development model and an investment model that make sense for each and every one,” said Mottley.
“Barbados is here to tell Sagicor and everyone else that we want to work with you. We are open for business and we want you to help us in the model that allows us to carry as many people with us, recognizing that those who want to live where they love, they also want to live in Barbados even if they are not of here,” she said.
Sagicor Group Chief Operating Officer Ravi Rambarran said Sagicor will be generating awareness and interest in the Estates at St George “among age and income-qualified individuals” within key audience categories.
“Those categories include Barbadians home and abroad, neighbours within the Caribbean, and tourists from the UK, US and Canada,” said Rambarran.
Stating that he hoped the model could be replicated in the region, the Sagicor official also pointed to the benefits of the project to the Barbados economy, saying besides revenue through payroll taxes, it would provide value proposition to Caribbean diaspora and opportunity to interest loyal and repeat visitors to the island, generate foreign exchange “and ultimately contribute to Barbados economic recovery and transformation”.
Officials are hoping to start construction on a high-end medical complex in the same parish to offer a range of specialized care, once the necessary approvals were granted and the Estates at St George is completed. That phase should cost just over $200 million. (MM)