Jus­tice Min­istry spend­ing $10m monthly for rent of Con­stant Spring Road com­plex

Jus­tice Min­istry spend­ing $10m monthly for rent of Con­stant Spring Road com­plex

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ryon Jones Staff Re­porter

THE MIN­ISTRY of Jus­tice is pay­ing out just over $10.4 mil­lion monthly for its swanky new com­plex on Con­stant Spring Road in St An­drew.

But one of the is­land’s lead­ing real-es­tate pro­fes­sion­als said the min­istry might be get­ting a bar­gain for what was once Baron’s Plaza.

Real­tor Deborah Cum­ming, who heads Cen­tury 21 Heave Ho Prop­er­ties, said the rental for the premises at 61 Con­stant Spring Road is “very rea­son­able and prob­a­bly a bit be­low mar­ket”.

“Rental rates ... in and around that area (Con­stant Spring Road) can range any­where from a low of US$14 to US$18 a square foot,” said Cum­ming, as she ar­gued that the jus­tice min­istry is pay­ing just be­low the ceil­ing price for the area it oc­cu­pies.

Ja­maica’s tax­pay­ers, for years, have had to fork out mil­lions an­nu­ally to fa­cil­i­tate govern­ment agen­cies and min­istries oc­cu­py­ing costly up­town premises.

It was re­vealed in 2012 that the Govern­ment spends more than $1.2 bil­lion an­nu­ally on rent while much state-owned prop­erty re­mains un­oc­cu­pied.

The Min­istry of Jus­tice was among those based in New Kingston pay­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in rent. But in March, it was re­lo­cated to the Con­stant Spring Road premises on a fiveyear lease.

The move from its pre­vi­ous location at NCB Tow­ers on Ox­ford Road was trig­gered by a se­ries of in­ci­dents aris­ing from bat in­fes­ta­tion, with the Pub­lic Health Author­ity even­tu­ally or­der­ing the build­ing closed.

The min­istry was pay­ing just over $6.6 mil­lion monthly for rent and main­te­nance at the Tow­ers.

NEW FA­CIL­I­TIES

Hav­ing taken the de­ci­sion to move to the Con­stant Spring prop­erty, the Jus­tice Min­istry shelled out $100 mil­lion in cash to in­stall a canteen, a day-care fa­cil­ity for chil­dren, a well­ness cen­tre, a standby gen­er­a­tor and air con­di­tion­ing of the prop­erty. The air con­di­tion­ing was in­stalled at a cost of $30 mil­lion but the min­istry said this is to be re­cov­ered from the land­lord.

With eye­brows be­ing raised about the al­most $4 mil­lion more the min­istry is pay­ing for rent monthly, plus the $100 mil­lion up­front cost, for­mer Jus­tice Min­is­ter Mark Gold­ing de­fended the move.

Gold­ing told The Sun­day Gleaner that a cheaper location was not found to house the min­istry be­cause of the dif­fi­cul­ties in ob­tain­ing cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture.

“Ul­ti­mately, the ob­jec­tive I had in mind was for us to move to a govern­ment prop­erty, and we had hoped that would have been at 2 Ha­gley Park Road. But be­cause of the pro­cure­ment process in the pub­lic sec­tor be­ing so tor­tu­ous, the con­struc­tion would have taken a very long time, and we couldn’t wait be­cause of the health is­sues with where we were,” said Gold­ing.

“The in­ten­tion had never been to move from rental ac­com­mo­da­tion to other rental

ac­com­mo­da­tion, but events forced the sit­u­a­tion which you now see,” added Gold­ing.

The man who re­placed Gold­ing af­ter the Ja­maica Labour Party was voted in to form the govern­ment in Fe­bru­ary, Del­roy Chuck, has also de­fended the in­creased monthly ex­pen­di­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to Chuck, the min­istry’s cur­rent location is more than worth the rent, as it is big enough to al­low the com­ing to­gether of de­part­ments that were pre­vi­ously in sep­a­rate lo­ca­tions.

Like Gold­ing, Chuck would like to move the min­istry away from a rented prop­erty, but he parts com­pany with his pre­de­ces­sor on where would be the per­fect home.

In­stead of the prop­erty on Ha­gley Park Road, which Gold­ing was eye­ing, Chuck wants the min­istry to make its home in down­town Kingston.

“We are go­ing to fix­ing up the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Cham­bers on Barry Street, and that is where we are go­ing to house the Min­istry of Jus­tice in a few years’ time,” said Chuck.

“It is go­ing to cost a cou­ple of bil­lions, but we are go­ing to get fi­nanc­ing in a pri­vate/pub­lic sec­tor part­ner­ship. We are in ne­go­ti­a­tions with sev­eral per­sons who can as­sist us in fix­ing that place, which will be sev­eral floors and will in­clude the Min­istry of Jus­tice and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Cham­bers there in Jus­tice Square,” said Chuck.

‘GOOD MOVE’

The move to down­town Kingston is one which Cum­ming would en­dorse im­me­di­ately.

Ac­cord­ing to the real­tor, it would cost govern­ment en­ti­ties much less to op­er­ate from down­town Kingston even if they will not be oc­cu­py­ing state-owned build­ings.

“Down­town is def­i­nitely an area I would en­cour­age more govern­ment places to re­lo­cate. Down­town at US$11 a square foot can’t be beat, and you are get­ting brand new build­ings and there is also park­ing,” said Cum­ming.

NOR­MAN GRINDLEY/CHIEF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

The Min­istry of Jus­tice build­ing on Con­stant Spring Road in St An­drew.

NOR­MAN GRINDLEY/CHIEF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Some of the fork­lifts stored by a bailiff on the com­pound of the civil divi­sion of the Cor­po­rate Area Par­ish Court in down­town Kingston.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Jamaica

© PressReader. All rights reserved.