20 South signals new real estate trend

Hailed as “modern” and “environmentally-friendly”, the new high-rise development at 20 South Avenue is seen as a necessary addition to the Kingston and Saint Andrew landscape, home to 25 percent of Jamaica’s population.
The area is also home to the country’s capital city, housing the seat of power for the political and corporate world. As the economy and population grows there is demand for more space for commerce and residences. The corporate area has a unique features with the Caribbean Sea to the south with the rest wrapped by the Blue Mountain range.
Those two features place constrains on expansion and a premium on available property for development.
As the country’s population grows, and available space declines planners have to reimagine what adequate and sustainable housing development looks like. For Minister Daryl Vaz, speaking at the official launch of the 20 South development, stated that it is a viable solution to the increasing housing demands in Kingston and he encourages other developers to follow suit. Vaz indicated that improvement in the sewage system with more to come has allowed for the increased habitable rooms per acre, which allowed for the 10 story development, just a few minutes from the country’s best known and most expensive area, New Kingston.

20 South, Apartment complex currently under construction in Kingston.

20 South offers one bedroom apartments with prices ranging from US$166,000 (J$21.3 million) to US$200,000 (J$25.8 million), two bedroom apartments for US$245,000 (J$31.6 million), two-bedroom penthouse apartments for US$344,500 (J$44.4million), and three bedroom apartments for US$420,000 (J$54 million). Amenities includes: two security posts, electronic gate access, smart card access for lobby and elevators, an onsite managers strata office, infinity pool and rooftop, jogging trail and lounge, an onsite convenience store, back-up generator, and water tank. The price per square foot starts at US$200 (J$25,800) for a one bedroom unit up to US$265 (J$34,180) per square foot for a two-bedroom penthouse. Apartments located on the North/South Avenue section of the building as well as those located on the higher floors command a higher premium per square foot. These prices place the 20 South units above the average market price.
This development is being undertaken by AVS Builders Limited with Chinese firm ZDA Construction handling construction.
The average price per square foot for a typical residential unit ranges from J$18,000-$24,000 within the corporate area Debbie Cumming of Century 21 says. “While the price difference may be due to additional amenities, it also supports the notion that the Jamaican real estate market is undervalued,” Cumming notes, and went on to say “that people’s expectations have changed. Therefore, persons are more willing to pay a premium for conveniences like proximity to work and are less concerned about size and having a private (single-family) dwelling. The lowering interest rates also means that the decision to purchase, rather than rent, is becoming a more affordable and appealing option.”
20 South is not an anomaly. The Corporate Area will continue to welcome more of these developments as the city struggles to adequately house its citizens. Recently, there was groundbreaking for the Hampshire, an apartment complex located adjacent to the Golden Triangle.

The Hampshire Apartments complex being built by Guardian Life.

The Hampshire will house 66 units ranging from 706 to 1020 square feet in area. Like 20 South, amenities will include, but are not limited to, a recreational rooftop area and pool. Prices for these units start at US$144,950 (J$18.6 million), reports are that all units in the complex are be fully sold. At the groundbreaking ceremony.
The self-contained, amenity-rich, conveniently located high rise complexes meet the changing needs and expectations of prospective buyers. Young professionals make up a significant chunk of this market and are one of the driving forces behind these changes.
Investors in the real estate market have not had it as good as the current environment for decades. Counted amongst the positives are, the lowest mortgage rates since the 1970’s, thus making home ownership less costly than a few years ago, positive growth in the economy, that will increase purchasing power of individuals, improving business and consumer confidence levels, a growing stock market and an exchange rate that is stable supported by low inflation and high levels of foreign exchange reserves bot at the central bank and in the hands of ordinary Jamaicans.
The current climate suggests that whether you are looking for your next home or your next investment – or both – the real estate market is one to watch.

Contributed by Cherika Wilson.