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C&W offices plan

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, [email protected]

C&W offices plan

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MORE THAN A YEAR after being put up for sale, the BET b­uilding is still without a buyer and its value has fallen by a “substantial” $7.3 million.

Cable & Wireless’ (C&W) departure from the Wildey, St Michael property a year ahead of schedule means that the owners of the building, led by The Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Limited SCC-Value Fund, have lost a substantial chunk of rental income.

With the property still for sale, having been listed “exclusively” with CBRE Group Inc. in New York, Fortress chairman Geoffrey Cave reported last week that “plans are being finalised for the redevelopment of the main building for future rental as a multi-tenant office building and we urgently await approval of our town planning application for the redevelopment of the overall site”.

C&W, which now occupies its new headquarters in the former Orange Mall at Warrens, St Michael, had originally signed a lease for the BET building that was due to end in October this year. However, it reached an agreement with the owners to terminate the rental agreement one year early and agreed to pay a $5.9 million “settlement payment”, Fortress said.

Fortress owns a 57 per cent share of the property and in the 12-month period ended September 30 last year it earned $5.5 million in gross rental income, compared to $5.3 million the previous year. Last week when Fortress Caribbean Property Fund Limited SCC-Value Fund released its quarterly report for the period ended December 31, the entire fund reported $900 000 in rental income in the quarter, a 47 per cent decrease Cave attributed “mainly to the loss in rental income from the BET building . . . for November and December 2015 when the agreed early termination of the lease took effect at the end of October 2015”.

With C&W having agreed to a ten-year lease for the cell tower that remains on site, Fortress said “a team of construction professionals has been engaged to advise on the refurbishment of the main building”.

This work is expected to start early this year “with a view to making the building tenantable early in the next financial year”.

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