By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A proposed $45 million Cable Beach real estate development may have some unexpected roadblocks to overcome, after senior government officials yesterday told Tribune Business its ‘approval in principle’ had been “nullified”.
Michael Major, developer of physical planning, said he was “very concerned” about the One Cable Beach project giving the impression, via media articles and a wrap-around advertisement in this newspaper, that it had received all the necessary permits to proceed to groundbreaking.
Describing this as “inappropriate”, Mr Major said the situation potentially sent a “really bad” message to potential investors, as it indicated developers might proceed to pre-sale units without the necessary approvals in place.
Jason Kinsale, One Cable Beach’s principal developer, and who has led the successful Balmoral development on Sanford Drive, declined to comment when contacted by Tribune Business.
However, sources familiar with the situation questioned why Mr Kinsale, an experienced real estate developer, would expose himself to a potential multi-million dollar loss and embarrassment by forging ahead without the required permits.
Mr Kinsale himself last week told Tribune Business that he had the necessary ‘approvals in principle’ to move ahead, with the 75-unit, eight storey project targeting an August groundbreaking for the construction start.
“He wouldn’t go and spend $6 million without an approval in principle,” one source close to One Cable Beach said of Mr Kinsale. “This could be a big issue for him, as he has secured reservations and spent a lot of money on marketing and designs.”
The Department of Physical Planning/Town Planning Committee’s stance could potentially jeopardise the 21 unit pre-sales Mr Kinsale generated prior to last week’s formal One Cable Beach launch, which was attended by more than 200 persons. The development’s long-term future has also been called into question,
Mr Major, though, explained that One Cable Beach’s initial ‘approval in principle’ had been linked to Mr Kinsale complying with the zoning height restrictions in place for that area of Cable Beach.
He added that One Cable Beach’s location was restricted to 73 feet, or seven storeys in height, while the development itself was targeting eight storeys.
To accommodate the project, Mr Major said the zoning height restrictions needed to be amended. And, when the Ministry of Works indicated it was not prepared to enact such an amendment, Mr Major said this “nullified” the Town Planning Committee’s ‘approval in principle’.
The director of physical planning alleged that Mr Kinsale had been informed about this, and the need to tweak his design plans, orally and in writing since January this year.
“Initially, the Town Planning Committee had no objections to the development in principle,” Mr Major told Tribune Business.
“But the height of the building was excessive, and did not comply with the Town Planning zoning restrictions in place for that area. Approval in principle was given provided they complied with the setback and height restrictions.”
Mr Major added that a second condition for One Cable Beach’s approval in principle was that it complied with a setback “formula”, governing how far the buildings had to be from its east and west boundaries with its neighbours.
“To accommodate his [Mr Kinsale’s] development required an amendment to the zoning order. The Ministry informed us it was not willing to amend the Order,” Mr Major said.
“Initial approval was granted, but subject to him meeting the requirements of the zoning order, and when we heard the Ministry was not willing to amend the zoning order, it kind of nullified the original approval.
“We had informed him of that. To see the report and pull-out section, we told him again today that’s inappropriate. We told him again that he should obtain approval from the Town Planning Committee prior to doing the project. We have written to him again this morning, indicating that position.”
Several observers, though, questioned yesterday why there was an issue with One Cable Beach’s height, given that several buildings in close proximity - Baha Mar’s $2.6 billion redevelopment and the Bayroc condominium project - were taller.
Mr Major, though, said there were specific formulas for determining height compliance with zoning restrictions, and both projects cited had different characteristics to One Cable Beach.
The director of physical planning said he met again with Mr Kinsale yesterday lunchtime, and had previously explained the situation to both the developer and his architect.
“He was fully aware of the zoning order,” Mr Major added. “We gave him a copy.
“I am very concerned. I think it will be bad for all parties concerned. We told him in our January letter of the Committee’s decision and the complications that would arise if he went ahead with his architectural plans without full approval. It’s really bad for investors and the country as a whole.”
One Cable Beach is located across West Bay Street from the Prime Minister’s residence, and just 600 feet west of the Baha Mar development.
Mr Kinsale last week told Tribune Business he expected to have sold 30 of One Cable Beach’s 75 total units by the weekend, hitting his pre-sales target some four months before the projected construction groundbreaking.
Speaking ahead of the official launch for his $45 million real estate development, he told Tribune Business that the demand - especially from overseas buyers willing to spend up to $1.6 million - had been “pretty incredible to witness”.
Estimating that One Cable Beach would create between 150-200 jobs at the construction peak, Mr Kinsale said: “Hopefully we can be a catalyst for other developers to take action and get this economy going.
“Real estate is one of the drivers for the economy. We need this project to happen. I just hope other people come as well.”