Bid to spruce up Carlisle House
IT IS A prime piece of Bridgetown commercial real estate worth $10.25 million, but Carlisle House is more than a quarter empty and counting falling income.
Now, its concerned owner Fortress Caribbean Property Fund is planning major improvements in an effort to reverse the decline.
In the last few years, Fortress management has highlighted the challenge faced by Carlisle House, which has lost some major tenants, including telecommunications company Cable & Wireless and the Barbados Stock Exchange.
At the end of last year, Fortress reported that by the time the company’s financial year ended on September 30, “occupancy of the building decreased from 78 per cent to 42 per cent and the top floor remains unrented, which is consistent with increasing vacancy in Bridgetown”.
Last week, chairman Sir Geoffrey Cave reported that “Carlisle House continues to be a challenge where the vacancy has climbed to 35 per cent and another major tenant is expected to leave prior to the end of the second quarter”.
Significant repairs and maintenance will be undertaken on Carlisle House in the 2017 financial year to enhance the attractiveness of the space and improve vacancy,” he announced.
Carlisle House, which provides commercial office space of 42 490 square feet, earned $1.56 million in gross rents last year, compared to the $1.68 million earned in 2015. Also, its net income decreased to $740 000 from $760 000.
The property’s value was another casualty, decreasing from $11 million to $10.25 million and the “main reason” for this was “a reduction in occupancy”.
Carlisle House is one of several Bridgetown properties which have lost tenants as businesses opt for locations outside of The City, including Warrens, St Michael.
Speaking last month during a meeting with chairman of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) The Revitalisation of Bridgetown Initiative Committee, Lalu Vaswani and member, Roxanne Brancker, at Ilaro Court, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart urged it to find out why businesses were moving out.
“We have to do everything in our power to revitalise Bridgetown. People need to know of its historical importance and they must be shown how Bridgetown connects with them,” he said.
“I don’t think all is lost; we have not leveraged the history of Bridgetown and what it means; bring it alive so that when people come to Bridgetown it would be to have an experience.”
Vaswani called Bridgetown “unique” and said its revitalisation was important.
Last June, BCCI president Eddy Abed said “Bridgetown as a commercial centre is spiralling rapidly to the point of low significance”.
He referred to a survey which showed that in 2014 there were 1 200 businesses employing 5 500 people, compared with 2 000 businesses employing 8 500 people in 2010.