STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE VINCENT WHEATLEY
MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES, LABOUR & IMMIGRATION
SEVENTH SITTING OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
THURSDAY, 15TH APRIL, 2021
JOE'S HILL HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to share with this Honourable House and the people of the Virgin Islands an update on the Joe’s Hill Housing Development being carried out by the Social Security Board.
Mr. Speaker, the Joe's Hill Housing Development (the Development) is a housing community designed on the hillside under Joe's Hill, Tortola facing the Long Bush and wider Road Town area. The property encompasses scenic views of Road Town, Salt Island and Peter Island. The Development is expected to be a gated community that includes twenty-five buildings, comprising a collection of fifty-two (52) residential units targeting first-time homeowners, plus a commercial rental space. The units will range from one to three-bedroom styled condos, single family homes and townhouses.
Mr. Speaker, the Development, recognized as the inaugural phase of the BVI Social Security Board’s (SSB) First-time Homeowner’s Programme, is a Design/Build model. In this arrangement, the Contractor, James Todman Construction Ltd. is responsible for all design aspects and the construction project. The property development component is the SSB's responsibility, with the project management component assigned to a third-party agency, STO Enterprises Limited.
On April 20, 2017, the Territory celebrated with the SSB on the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Development, a momentous accomplishment for our islands. However Mr. Speaker, it was only five months later that our Territory was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Due to the impact of these hurricanes, the SSB suspended all works on the Development. On May 28, 2020 Mr. Speaker, steps were taken to restart and a contract was executed between the SSB and the Contractor for the commencement of constructions works, and on July 1, 2020, site mobilisation works were underway.
The SSB, took on this initiative Mr. Speaker, with the aim to:
- enable individuals to obtain affordable homes,
- enable individuals to create wealth, and
- stimulate the BVI’s Economy through the multiplier effect from investments in the economy, with structures that reinforce and ensure the circulation of money in the Virgin Islands.
The Development's contracted time Mr. Speaker is roughly 3.5 years to complete in its entirety, with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2023. However, the progress to date, impacts previously forecasted data, by giving us a new estimated completion date of May 31, 2022 – thirteen months ahead of schedule.
Mr. Speaker, as of March 3, 2021, the Project Manager confirmed in the February Report, that simultaneous construction works are underway on nineteen (19) buildings – which is evidenced by the physical structures that can be seen from various areas of central Road Town and beyond.
As of March 31, 2021, Eight million, four hundred thirty-three thousand, six hundred and seventy nine dollars and thirty-one cents ($8,433,679.31) has been expended on construction works, with Nine million, four hundred, ninety-five thousand, four hundred and twenty five dollars and one cent ($9,495,425.01) remaining to complete the project. The Development continues to progress within estimated financial projections, with little to no expectation of incurring cost overruns.
Mr. Speaker, eligibility for the First-time Homeowner’s Programme, requires the buyer(s) to be a BVIslander, Belonger or Resident of the Territory for the last 20 years, and that first-time homeowners, must occupy the property as their primary residence. The buyer(s) must attend a Home Buyers Educational Program and earn a Certificate of Completion. Once selected as a successful candidate, buyers must secure a mortgage loan from a local bank.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, an “upon completion” appraisal of the property was completed in March 2021. At present, the SSB is finalizing the award of the tender for a Surveyor in assisting with its finalization of the pricing of the homes. Once that exercise is completed, information on the pricing options, for the homes will be communicated to the public.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the Board and staff of the Social Security for pushing ahead and making this project a reality. This is a project we are proud of, as this Government has made home ownership by our young people a priority.
I thank you Mr. Speaker.