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Gov’t sells Ogle estate land for GYD$52 million for Marriott construction; Trinidad investor dismisses political situation

Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2020, 0:40 by Writer

NICIL’s CEO Colvin Heath-London, Minister of Business Hemraj Rajkumar, and CEO of Triniyuana John Aboud turn the sod for the construction of the AC Marriott Hotel. Looking on is President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association Clinton Williams.

Triniyuana, a recently registered company in Guyana, has purchased 2.61 acres of “prime” land at Ogle, East Coast Demerara for more than GYD$52 million to build an AC Marriott-branded hotel.

Privatisation Specialist at the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Rachael Henry says the land was sold at more than GYD$26 million per acre, higher than the valuated price. “Certainly, we would have analysed it after receiving the valuation. It was higher than the valuation. It was based on essential market rates and we looked at the present value to be able to arrive at the purchase price we agreed on,” said the Trinidad-born Henry.

The East Demerara sugar estates land, which was owned by the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was vested to NICIL which sealed the land sale deal. NICIL’s Chief Executive Officer, Colvin Heath-London says the land was advertised in 2017.

Chief Executive Officer of Triniyuana, John Aboud told reporters after the symbolic turning of the sod with representatives of NICIL and the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), that his company and Marriott have already signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the hotel to be Marriott-branded.

“We have an LOI signed with Marriott. Right now, we are in the process of negotiating the financial nitty-gritties. But a Marriott will be here. The LOI is signed and it’s only a question before you actually sign the franchise agreement: how much commission you have to pay them? what are the royalty fees? Those are the things that we are going through now with them,” he said.

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes, CEO of Triniyuana John Aboud and Deputy Head of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), Aubrey Heath-Retemyer.

Aboud explained that signing of the franchise agreement has been held up because “we are waiting on the geotechnical study to come back for us to understand what kind of structure we can put down”. He said an application has been also submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The CEO said negotiations for the land at Ogle began in March, after the government indicated that that land was available. Trinyuana Investment Inc, he says, was incorporated in July, 2019, when it became clear that the prospects of doing business in Guyana was good. Aboud shrugged off questions about why the decision was made to negotiate with the Guyana government at a time when the country had been in a political flux. “I have absolutely no interest in politics. I have absolutely no interest in who wins the election. That’s not my business. My business is real estate development. There is an opportunity in Guyana and I believe that whoever wins, this opportunity is not going to go away,” he said.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) had said the David Granger-led administration was in an “interim” and “caretaker” status as a result of the December 21, 2018, no-confidence motion.

He believes construction of the Marriott at Ogle is advantageous because it is close to the Eugene F. Correia International Airport and other potential investors. Hilton Hotel is expected to build a hotel in the same area.

Overall, the construction of the 150-room hotel is expected to cost as much as US$100 million, and already Aboud said the Trinidad-headquartered Republic Bank, which sent two representatives to the sod-turning ceremony, has signaled that it would like to finance part of the project.

NICIL’s Heath-London said the Guyana government would have no stake in the AC Marriott, and eventually Guyanese would be able to buy shares on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange when the Guyanese property is added to existing ones of Endeavour Holdings. “This development in the future would be added to that stock and Guyanese to invest by buying shares in the company,” he said.