Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
West Indies Home Contractors Limited (WIHCON) said last Thursday that construction of its delayed Bermonde housing development in Portmore may start in April, pending approvals by Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change.
The project has already hurdled local parish council approval.
The project was first mooted in 2011 but met with vociferous objection by some residents of the Greater Portmore Housing Scheme, resulting in a redesign of the development.
Originally, Bermonde should have comprised 240 studio units on lands spanning 20,710 square metres at Greater Portmore.
The former design, targeted at the “young and modern homeowner”, was aimed at young professionals. The studios were then expected to cost $5 million to J$6 million.
Now, four years later, the redesigned Bermonde will feature 76 town houses to be sold within the ballpark of $12 million to $14 million.
Originally, the National Environment and Planning Agency gave WIHCON environ-mental and planning approval to build the studios in June 2012, but parish council approval was withheld.
As articulated by Howard Hamilton, then chairman of the Greater Portmore Joint Council in a published letter of objection, “the existing infrastructure, such as roads, sewage disposal and water, is already inadequate and has exceeded capacity, and hence any additional demands without proper improvements would affect the community adversely and would also negatively impact the quality of life of the residents”.
He also said that it was the community’s desire that all remaining vacant lands be utilised to provide social, administrative and recreational services to accommodate an expanding community, the vast majority of which are the youth.
On Thursday, Aisha Campbell, general manager of the Development Division at WIHCON, said Bermonde’s redesign as a town house project with fewer units was a response to the community’s concerns.
“This design was resubmitted to the Portmore Municipal Council and WIHCON received verbal confirmation that the subdivision was approved at the last council meeting,” said Campbell.
NOT YET CLEARED
“All hurdles have not been cleared as the development still needs to be ratified by the Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change. Further, WIHCON still needs to obtain building approval and approval from the Real Estate Board.”
Still, she said WIHCON expected to clear all approvals for construction to get under way in April 2015.
The project now represents a “potential $700 million investment – approximately $300 million less than the original studio design – in the housing and construction sector and will provide employment opportunities for approximately 200 persons,” Campbell said.
WIHCON, a subsidiary of ICD Group Limited, has been involved in both commercial and residential construction for over 50 years in Jamaica and the Caribbean.