Little Bay Negril > going >going> gone?
$3b country club - Selective Homes chooses Negril for next venture
Published: Friday | November 20, 2009
Robert Cartade, managing director of Selective Homes Limited, headquartered at Ruthven Road in St Andrew. - File
Developer Robert Cartade has selected Negril for his next real estate venture but is carefully scoping out the market before finalising the plans for what, at this stage, is a $3-billion estate with homes targeted at hotel executives, professionals and foreign buyers.
Cartade and partner Andrew Girod have established a subsidiary operation, Selective Homes Negril Limited, to manage the project and have already acquired 23 acres of lands close to Bloody Bay from Urban Development Corporation (UDC) at an undisclosed price.
Selective Homes is still finalising the designs, though Cartade said the development would likely comprise 150 units, in a mix of villas, studios and two- and three-bedroom town houses.
He is taking time, he told the Financial Gleaner, to take the market's temperature and get a feel for just how much demand there would be for 'Little Bay Country Club' - the name of the planned complex.
On Wednesday, when parent company Selective Homes Limited outlined the project at a cocktail reception in Kingston, Cartade also indicated that he would be lobbying the Bruce Golding administration to consider offering incentives to foreign real estate buyers, as some other countries do, to gin up demand for Jamaican property in general, by enticing them to buy a second home away from home.
Initially, Little Bay was to be marketed mainly to hotels as a secluded estate for their executives, but Cartade said market research indicated that only half the development would have been taken up by that segment.
"... As such, we wish to introduce a new marketing strategy, which will accommodate the remaining units," he said Wednesday night, "and that is second home ownership which could be marketed to overseas purchasers or tourists - a policy which we will believe the government of Jamaica should consider," he said.
Cartade told the Financial Gleaner that the policy has worked well for Malaysia under its MM2H programme.
The property is located in an area where the newest hotels in Negril have sprung up.
"It is indeed the perfect location with its own secluded prime beach, rich golden sands (and) stunning views," said the developer, well into salesman mode at the reception held at his St Andrew home.
Cartade acquired the property, which was put on the market more than a year ago, but even the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) declined to state the sale price.
"The Ireland Pen property, of which this is a part, had been zoned for resort use for years. We advertised it as an investment opportunity and Selective Homes was the successful tender," said UDC general manager Joy Douglas.
"We approved their development because it is very consistent with the environment sensitivity that we hope to see of a property of this nature, and what is also most important is that it provided for housing because there is a shortage of housing in Negril."
UDC's imprimatur on the business plan notwithstanding, Selective Homes still needs to hurdle environmental and planning approvals, as Cartade acknowledged.
"We wish to point out that we are still in discussion with all the regulatory agencies and other stakeholders in the area with the view to submitting designs for approval of the subdivisions and for the construction of the development," he said.
Construction of the 150 units should, he said, commence next February, and be wrapped up 18 months later, putting the completion date at around August 2011.
He admitted that he will have to adhere to strict environmental procedures as the development is located near to a fish sanctuary.
"But, unlike others who may see the fish sanctuary as a problem and may have channelled their efforts in lobbying the government to have the sanctuary relocated, instead, we saw it as an opportunity and decided to make it a feature," he said.
Cartade would have been referring to Negril's environmental community, whose members have been steady watchdogs of the ecologically sensitive waterfront community and whose lobby efforts back in the 1990s resulted in its designation as a "protected area".
Peter Knight, chief executive officer of the National Environ-mental and Planning Agency (NEPA), said no formal applications had yet been made by the developer but that he was aware of the project.
"We have met with the developer and we have looked at an outlined planning proposal and we have given some specific guidelines," he said.
"The review process has started, we have had a multi-agency team going to the area, so it is in the review process and there is no decision as yet."
Cartade has been tested before on an environmentally-sensitive and controversial project, triumphing on plans for a 520-townhouse hill top complex, aptly named Long Mountain.
Among his most recent jobs was the 250-unit Mango Walk Country Club in Montego Bay, and while that investment appeared to have been fairly smooth in its implementation, Cartade told the Financial Gleaner that he is still left with 35 units that victims of failed 'alternative investment schemes' had backed away from.
He has since re-advertised the units.
Little Bay will be financed in-house, but Selective Homes would turn to the banks for loans in the event of delays, he said.
The development will include 'super' studios, each 600 square feet; the townhouses, 1,200 to 1,800 sq ft; and three-bedroom villas at 3,000 sq ft.
Cartade said their prices have not been firmly settled, but the units are expected to be sold for US$110,000 for the studios, US$250,000 for the two bedroom units overlooking the sea, and US$340,000 for the three-bedroom.
"Until we actually design them and build them, or even get our approvals, it will be difficult to put a price on them," he said.