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Pickering snag

Wade Gibbons

Pickering snag

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THE MASSIVE PICKERING, St Lucy building project might not be getting off the ground any time soon.That’s because developer North Ridge Development Company Limited has so far been unable to attract investors to raise capital for the proposed BDS$1.7 billion initiative.Among the potential investors that the company has approached has been Cellate International & Construction Group [CICG], an Irish company now facing a lawsuit for misappropriation of funds in St Vincent and the Grenadines. This has resulted in CICG’s assets being frozen.The company has a subsidiary, Cellate Caribbean, located at 1st Avenue, Belleville, St Michael.At a ground-breaking ceremony in May, Prime Minister David Thompson said the project would include 1 161 residential units, a 200-unit hotel, a private day-care centre, a primary school, supermarkets, convenience stores and several other amenities.The SUNDAY SUN has obtained a copy of a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which shows North Ridge has been seeking an investor to purchase a substantial percentage ownership interest; purchase up to $40 million non-voting redeemable preference shares; superintend the Pickering project; undertake construction of the proposed development; and source all additional funding required to complete construction and product sales.The document also revealed North Ridge Development has outstanding financial obligations for the land purchase at Pickering, as well as to a number of professionals. These include a cost of $24 million for about 230 acres of land, as well as payments to a surveyor, attorney-at-law, engineer, architect, financial/tax consultant, an environmental impact assessment team and other named individuals totalling $4.2 million.North Ridge’s proposal to CICG to purchase a 30 per cent financial interest was priced at $16 million. Among other proposals put to CICG was that within 21 days of signing a MOU, $24 million of the $40 million was made available to close the land purchase. North Ridge proposed that the additional $16 million be placed in escrow to cover fees and other expenses. On the cards was for CICG to receive a basic project management fee equal to three per cent of revenues and for North Ridge to receive a developer’s fee equal to five per cent of revenues. CICG did not sign the agreement.Two weeks ago former Prime Minister Owen Arthur suggested Government’s launch of the Pickering project was a façade. He alleged North Ridge Development had no money even for initial start-up expenses and had to borrow $600 000 to help pay pre-investment costs. “These people do not have any money. They do not have any investors to work with them, but you had a groundbreaking ceremony in St Lucy to create the image that something is happening,” Arthur said. In a July 27 statement to the SUNDAY SUN, the board of directors of North Ridge Development Company Limited said it was not appropriate “to respond to public statements on the status of investors”.Efforts yesterday to reach North Ridge developers through their attorney-at-law Wayne Cumberbatch for further comment were [email protected]

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