Developer nervous as he takes on $2.4-b housing project

Head
of the Chinese real estate company selected to construct Howard Apartments in St Andrew South Western has admitted that he is nervous as he tries to ensure that the targets are met for its completion.

However, Prime Minister Andrew Holness assured him that there is no need to be worried as long as the targets are completed during the expected period.

The project comprises the construction of 248 studio apartments at a cost of $2.4 billion in the depressed community off Waltham Park Road and Julian Zhu, managing director of t Centauri Real Estate Company Limited, sees it as an important collaboration between Jamaica and China in the housing industry.

“In the past years, Centauri Real Estate has been dedicated in providing high-quality housing solutions to [the] Jamaican market but it is our first time working with the Jamaican Government. We feel excited but nervous,” he said during the ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday.

“We feel excited because we are finally able to join the Government’s efforts to do something more meaningful in the Jamaican society and we also feel nervous because we understand the job we are doing is very demanding,” added Zhu.

He stressed that the company needs to carefully manage the budget and ensure the best quality for the studio apartments.

“We also need to make sure that the quality here means not only the quality of construction works, but also the quality of life. We understand that the amenities will be a bit costly and will inevitably squeeze the margin of profit, which is usually very low for housing solutions like this, but we will not compromise,” said Zhu.

“We believe we are building a home for those who deserve the opportunity to get the amenities because every working Jamaican who wants to purchase a home deserves this,” added Zhu.

Responding to Zhu’s concerns Prime Minister Holness stressed that in any partnership between Government and the private sector there are always fears and uncertainties that could arise.

“Government policies could change on you overnight, political risks, social risks, not to mention all kinds of market risks involved, but one thing you can be certain of is that the way this Government has operated, we minimise the political, fiscal and policy risks for the private sector investors to come and participate in these programmes which have a very high positive social externality for the people who will benefit,”said Holness.

“You don’t have to worry. I give you the assurance that as long as you deliver these houses on time, and on budget, you have nothing to worry about,” added Holness.

The development is being done in partnership with National Housing Trust under its Guaranteed Purchase Programme and is expected to be completed in October 2024.

The development will include infrastructure such as paved driveways and parking areas, storm water drainage system, potable water distribution network and social amenities such as a clubhouse, gazebo, exercise area, green area, roof garden and jogging trail.

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