Wed | Apr 24, 2019

Hendrickson planning Jamaica’s tallest high-rise

Published:Wednesday | January 23, 2019 | 12:04 AMAvia Collinder/ Business Reporter
Hotelier and businessman Kevin Hendrickson.

 

It would be the tallest structure in Jamaica if the plans gain traction, but for now, hotelier Kevin Hendrickson says the design of a 28-floor tower that he has under consideration for development in New Kingston is still going on the drawing board.

Hendrickson, who is in the process of redeveloping the former Wyndham hotel at 77 Knutsford Boulevard, is weighing the development of the tower on adjoining land currently in use as a parking lot.

That high-rise would eclipse the country’s current tallest structure, The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, which Hendrickson also owns. That hotel has 17 floors.

The tower development, as it is currently conceptualised, would incorporate parking on the lower 10 floors, some of which would be built underground, while the other 18 floors would house condominiums. Hendrickson says the parking facility would serve his three hotels along the Knutsford Boulevard row – 77 Knutsford, Courtleigh and The Jamaica Pegasus – but would also incorporate extra space for public parking.

The engineering drawings, Hendrickson told the Financial Gleaner, are currently being reviewed, and planning permission will be sought before year end, once he is satisfied with the design concept.

“The building itself has had no discussion other than to say this is the way we see ourselves going in the future,” said Hendrickson.

“We have some renderings, of course. Currently, the engineers are going through the engineering works so we can make a parish council submission … . I had mentioned it in passing to the mayor, the possibility that we could have a very exciting project for Kingston, which could include parking.”

Hendrickson acquired 77 Knutsford in 2014 when his bid of US$17.6 million was accepted at auction, giving him ownership of the full row of hotels along the stretch. He is still in the process of redeveloping that property, which, when finalised, is expected to have more convention and meeting spaces but “slightly less” than the 303 rooms he acquired.

REPAIR COSTS

The last price tag reported for the repairs was US$45 million, but Hendrickson now says he expects that the final tally may end up anywhere between US$85 million and US$100 million.

“That includes a parking lot and other infrastructure,” he said.

Regarding the tower, the hotelier said he had no specific timeline for executing the entire project, except for the parking garage, which he sees as important to the efficient operation of his hotels.

As to the height of the structure, Hendrickson says he is willing to adjust it if the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, KSAMC, objects. But even as he made that observation, the hotelier also signalled that he was more inclined to add floors than to reduce the height.

“The 28 floors are being considered. It’s something we are thinking of, but we are not hard and fixed on it. If [KSAMC] says we need to revisit, we will,” he said.

However: “Economies of scale might make 34 floors an even better proposition,” he added.

The number of floors to be constructed below ground is still to be finalised, while the cost of the entire project will be determined after the engineering drawings are finalised and the project is tendered for construction.

The financing structure, he adds, may be determined by cash flows generated by 77 Knutsford once that hotel is back on the market. But as to when that will be, Hendrickson is not committing to a hard-and-fast date.

“Optimistically, I would like to suggest a possibility of the end of this year, but I don’t know yet,” he said.

“With the meeting rooms we have rebuilt and the new ones added, along with Courtleigh facilities and Pegasus, we hope to bring a new market back to Kingston, which is the conventions business that we had years ago.”

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com