Address by Minister of Housing at the Launch of Victoria Keyes, Diego Martin
February 11, 2017:
The following is an Address by The Honourable Randall Mitchell, M.P., Minister of Housing and Urban Development at the Formal Launch of Victoria Keyes (Vic Keyes), Diego Marting on Saturday 11 February, 2017.
WELCOME TO VICTORIA KEYES
Let me also take this opportunity to welcome you all to this long awaited Victoria Keyes development. This project has been 12 years in the making and today it is finally complete and ready for occupation. And isn't she a beautiful property. Well situated in one of the most sought after areas in the Country. Steeped in the tranquil atmosphere amidst bustling suburbia. With sweeping panoramic views of the Western Peninsula and the Gulf of Paria. As an individual with a keen interest in Real Estate, in Architecture, and Property Development, I can truly appreciate the beauty of this project. The amenities and the modern living that it offers. And I’m sure we all can.
WE SECRETLY PINE
But as a member of this PNM government, as the Minister of Housing, I must confess that a part of me pains deep down inside, as I am sure it pains the Prime Minister and other members of government. Let me explain why. In 2002, the PNM introduced a new Housing Policy which we still uphold to this day. And that Policy is based on 3 Pillars: Affordability, Accessibility, and the Improvement to the Quality of life for Low to Middle Income Earners.
For this reason, the then PNM Govt, led by Dr. Rowley as Minister of Housing was up and down the country building houses for those most in need of Affordable Housing.
And here in Diego Martin, this project was conceptualised back in 2005 in accordance with that philosophy. 264 modest apartments to be constructed here to satisfy the Housing needs for the low and middle-income applicants on this part of the island.
THE CHANGE, THE DISADVANTAGE
This project was substantially completed in 2010, but remarkably, sometime in 2011 a new philosophy was adopted by that government, and the HDC was instructed to modify the scope to enlarge the apartments, and to include a multi-storeyed car park, pool, club house, tennis court etc. A project that was supposed to have cost just about 250 Million dollars is now expected to cost over 652 million dollars when all is accounted for. Clearly out of the reach of the low to middle income earners this project was intended to reach. And who have been waiting on this project for all these years.
On assuming office, we had to make a hard decision. With respect to his project, we needed to bring it quickly to a state of completion and we needed to recover from this departure from government policy, recover from this fumble - these excesses by offering these units for sale on the Open Market so that the proceeds of sale can go on toward constructing Affordable Housing opportunities for low and middle income earners. Those for whom Government's housing policy and programmes are intended. This is the true benefit of the decision we've made and this is the message we must take away. We are recovering from these excesses of the last government, so that the proceeds of the sales of these units can go on to fund our housing construction programme, and to reduce our debt to Contractors.
EVERY EFFORT TO SELL
And this is what is going to drive us to use every effort, every cost effective method to sell these units as quickly as possible. This now becomes our main focus at the Ministry of Housing and the HDC. At this development, there are 264 units.
206 units on Floors 3 to 8 will be offered for sale on the open market at open market prices determined by expert valuers. The cost of the units range from $1.4 million dollars up to $4.5 million dollars for units sized from approximately 800 sq ft to 2900 sq ft. The units are 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units. The purchase of these units are subject to an application process which is essentially on a first come first serve basis. There will be a sales office situated on site to facilitate an easy sales process with sales staff who are only too happy to assist.
Rent to Own
There are 48 units on the ground and first floors of every tower. These include units on the first floor that are targeted toward the physically challenged. We have reserved these units for allocation through our Rent to Own Programme. We are giving the opportunity of home ownership to those HDC applicants at the uppermost band of earners on the database. Those applicants, who may be professionals, and their families will have a chance to own one of these sought after units. These are persons who may not have the ability to qualify to purchase a unit now, but who will surely be able to in 3-5 years from now. These units will be subject to the usual HDC qualifying criteria.
The remaining ten units will be retained by the State for its use.
ADVERTISING AND MARKETING
The project will be marketed in the usual way. There will be advertisements in the Print and Broadcast Media. More so, we will also be heavily dependent on Online and Viral Marketing. Going live now, there is the website VictoriaKeyes.com. There will also be a Facebook page, and you all would have received flash drives with all the videos. On the website, you will see all the videos and information pertinent to this project. You will also be able to access Virtual Tours of all the units from the comfort of your office or your home. This amazing technology was provided to us by our partner, Mr. Shane Correira of Trinidad Realtor. So Please Share. Please share all the videos on the Flash Drives. We need this to go viral.
Of Course, we also are dependent on Word of Mouth. Bankers, Captains of Industry. Everyone here. You will not find as much value elsewhere today at these price points and at this location. And I'm sure you will agree when you see the well appointed units. And for that we thank partners for allowing us the use of their goods and services to stage the units.
So bring them; come! We are open for Business. And remember, the 356 Million dollars that we expect to realise will be used to ensure that low and middle income earners are given opportunities for affordable housing.
So allow me to express my sincerest thanks to all those who made this launch possible. Thank you, Honourable Prime Minister for your foresight and vision for the Public Housing Sector. I need to thank the Chairman of the HDC and the Board of Directors for your persistence in bringing this project to a close. Thank you to the Acting Managing Director, the management and staff of the HDC. All employees, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Housing Partners.
To our Partners who would have been so generous enough to allow us the use of your goods and services to make this event a success. We could not have done it without your generosity.
The Lewis Brothers from Lewis Appliances, Mr. Andy Pathik from Nova Lighting, Mr. Aboud, Mode Alive, Mr. Adam Sabga, Standard Distributors, Ms. Pierre, Pear tree Consulting, Ms. Parsons, Advanced Dynamics, Mr. Shane Correira, Trinidad Realtor. Thanks to Andrew Gabriel for your ideas and creativity.
To all the State Regulatory Agencies who worked with us to get this project completed; WASA - Mr. Romney Thomas and team, TTEC - Keith Sirju and team, Ministry of Works. Thank you to the Contractor, KEE CHANONA, for accelerating the delivery of this development. And to all others would have had a direct involvement in this launch. My sincerest Gratitude to you.
So I now have to pleasure to introduce to you the man under whose direction this project was initially started. But before that, allow me to introduce you intimately to Victoria Keyes, through a short 3 Minute Video.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen!
For further information, please contact:
Corporate Communications Unit
Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
Tel: (868) 623-4663 ext 2202