FirstRock eyes 2024 handover of Hambani units

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The Hambani units, which were first introduced to market some two years ago, is a US$13-million project consisting of almost 9,000 square feet of spacing being built along Bamboo avenue in Liguanea, Kingston.

The luxurious Hambani Estates residential project, being developed by FirstRock Real Estate Investments Ltd in Liguanea, St Andrew, should be fully handed over and occupied by the end of the first quarter of next year, its developers have indicated.

According to assistant vice-president of real estate business at FirstRock Denroy Pusey, the units now at 75 per cent completion sees only three of the 12 high-end apartments left to be sold.

Following more than a year of missed timelines for delivery, the project which the developers said was also impacted by supply chain and other issues associated with the novel coronavirus pandemic, is now back on track and set for completion during the first three months of next year, even as it misses the deadline timed for this month.

“We have already started our handing over of some units to purchasers but we won’t be able to complete all the units for this year. In terms of what the new schedule looks like — estimation based on the advice of the contractors is for us to achieve practical completion within the first quarter of 2024. We were really hoping to achieve completion this year but there are factors which we have been dealing with. However, once fully completed, the units could become fully occupied by the last part of the first quarter in 2024,” Pusey told the Jamaica Observer in a telephone interview on Monday.

PUSEY…we have already started our handing over of some units to purchasers but we won’t be able to complete all the units for this year. In terms of what the new schedule looks like — estimation based on the advice of the contractors is for us to achieve practical completion within the first quarter of 2024

“We have moved from seven sold units to nine and we are literally holding off on the other three to maximise on the sale price as much as we can,” he further said to the Business Observer.

The ultra-expensive units, which came to market about two years ago, is a US$13-million project consisting of almost 9,000 square feet of spacing being built along Bamboo Avenue in Liguanea.

The units promising first-class amenities are equipped with 24/7 security, adequate parking, stand-by generators, backup water and smart home systems as well as individual swimming pools among other high standard infrastructural and building finishes.

The residencies, which were criticised as being overly-priced at US$1.8 million–US$2 million, or over $300 million in local currency, could now, based on market demand, trend even higher with prices for the remaining three units climbing to US$2.2 million–US$2.5 million.

The FirstRock executive in dismissing claims that the high price tags may have impacted the pace of sale for the units, asserted that there has been strong demand.

Defending the cost of the units which he said were reasonably priced, he also said they rank among the cheapest in the market from a cost per square foot standpoint.

“Hambani is somewhere around US$220 per sq ft as oppose to other developments which are going for US$270–US$320 per square feet. Customers have, however, been able to realise the value in Hambani and the fact that they are large units also helps us to sell at the cheaper rates [per sq ft] when compared to what is taking place in the market right now,” he stated.

Pusey in moving to speak on the plans for growth and expansion of the company’s real estate portfolio, said that in addition to the work being done for Hambani, other active projects — two of which are residential and the other commercial — are also being primed for development in Kingston and Portland.

“We have a mid-rise on which we want to advance work significantly and we also have another residential development for which are looking to break ground sometime next year in Portland. We also have a small 35,000 sq ft commercial development that we’re looking to break ground on in New Kingston, which could house our corporate office and with the additional units, we may also choose to engage a hybrid approach as we rent or sell some of those units,” Pusey said.

The AVP, in further sharing an outlook for the company, said that a major part of its strategy going forward is to significantly ramp up growth in its property income portfolio.

The company up to the end of the third quarter period ended September secured increased property income of US$1.1 million despite reduced net profit of US$329,851.

“Our real estate goal is to mostly acquire commercial buildings and investments for rental income purposes and this is a major part of the target for next year. We are now targeting places such as Cayman, Aruba, the US, Costa Rica and Jamaica,” Pusey said.

FirstRock, after recently signing a deal to acquire two parcels of land in Costa Rica, in a recent notice to shareholders, said it is looking to construct two new KFC restaurants on the lands, which it plans to later lease to Intelectiva Costa Rica SA, the operators of KFC Costa Rica, for a 20-year term limit.

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Norman Reid

Chairman,
FirstRock Real Estate Investments Limited

Mr. Norman Reid is the Chairman of First Rock Real Estate Investments. He is a career Banker and has served the Financial Services Sector for over 40 years with his most recent post being Senior Assistant General Manager for Retail Banking at NCB. His expertise includes Risk Management, Leadership, Sales Management and Governance.

He serves as Chairman of the EXIM Bank, and is a Director of the Western Regional Health Authority and Sam Sharpe College. Norman holds a BA in Banking and Finance, a Diploma in Banking (ACIB) and a Diploma in Retail Banking from the BAI (BANK Administration Institute) USA. He is also a Fellow at the Institute of Banking and Financial services in the UK. Mr. Reid was also appointed as a mentor to the Emerging Leader Initiative administered by the Bank Administration Institute.