Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, broke ground today (April 1) for the construction of 56 townhouses in Stadium Gardens, Kingston.
Construction of the housing units, which is being facilitated by the Housing Agency of Jamaica Limited (HAJ), formerly the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC), begins this month and will last for one year.
It is the second phase of a housing development in the community. Ashtrom Building Systems is the contractor.
Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, (second right) is assisted by Chairman of the Housing Agency of Jamaica Limited’s Board of Directors, David Chung, (left) in breaking ground for the construction of 56 townhouses in Stadium Gardens, Kingston, during a ceremony on April 1. Looking on from left are: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Genefa Hibbert; Chairman of the People’s National Party(PNP) South East St. Andrew Constituency, Julian Robinson; and former Minister of Environment and Housing and MP for the area, Easton Douglas.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Dr. Chang said that he was pleased that the development was taking place in the Corporate Area, as the notion of the uptown/downtown divide was a tradition that needed to be broken down.
He said that more quality housing solutions was needed in the midtown and downtown areas. He pointed out that because persons tend to move out of the centre of town, essentially abandoning the inner city, this has contributed to the decay of downtown Kingston.
Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, (left) engages in discussion with Managing Director of the Housing Agency of Jamaica Limited, Joseph Shoucair, during a ceremony on April 1, to break ground for the construction of 56 townhouses in Stadium Gardens, Kingston.
“We have to try and reverse that trend. We are just about on the border of midtown here (Stadium Gardens), and we have to try to look at how we can begin to restore urban areas to have a social mix, where there can be social leadership and young professionals and other people can reside in the downtown areas,” he said.
The Minister said that he hopes that the groundbreaking would symbolise the beginning of a new trend in urban housing in the Corporate Area.
Dr. Chang said that he was particularly empathetic towards young professionals and middle management public servants, who have challenges in finding affordable housing.
“Affordable housing varies from individual to individual, and part of that challenge is that, even if they find a house, they have to go all the way to Old Harbour, or somewhere out in St. Catherine. The fact is that the cost of commuting for these people is proving to be significant, and it infringes on the quality of their family life,” he emphasised.
“We need to find more affordable residences in the Corporate Area for individuals in this particular category,” he added.
He said that he was aware that even though the prices of the houses to be constructed at Stadium Gardens were not particularly high, they were “pretty steep” for many public servants and young professionals, who are not high income earners.
A town house on an inner lot, with 1,024 square feet, cost $8.75 million, while those on end lots with 1,344 square feet cost $9.25 million. But, Dr. Chang said that this was still a “good price,” as these types of houses usually go for $18 to $20 million.
Dr. Chang further pointed out that with the high demand for housing at this time, he would like to bring down some of the prices to a more affordable rate, of $6 to $8 million, which would accommodate most National Housing Trust (NHT) beneficiaries.
The Minister added that there was another four acres of land in Stadium Gardens, on which phase three of the project would materialise. He said that the design work for this phase will begin soon.
On another matter, he said that the Ministry, in collaboration with the NHT and the HAJ, would be undertaking a major housing project this year.
“We hope to launch a housing programme this year, which is not only designed to provide a significant number of solutions, but to help in maintaining the construction industry,” he said.
“This year is a critical year and part of the mission is to provide not only housing solutions for our people, but to use that to provide some stimulus to the economy,” Dr. Chang said.