Press Release:- Fresh Start Construction Company Limited (Fresh Start) is aware of criticism and speculation within the general public and media, concerning two Public-Private Partnership Agreements (PPP) entered into with the Saint Lucia National Housing Corporation (NHC).
The agreements which have since been terminated were to develop lands vested in the NHC’s name at Choc Estate, Castries, and at Talvern, in the quarter of Babonneau.
The termination notice was received by Fresh Start from the NHC on December 10th, 2021.
It was an unexpected and sudden turn of events after two years of development work and constant communication between Fresh Start, the NHC, and all relevant agencies.
While we have sought direct clarity from these organizations and attempted to reach an amicable resolution, recent announcements (with limited, selective details) have circulated with far-reaching ramifications. The company finds it necessary to address some points of concern with the hope that this clarification will cease the spread of inaccurate information.
- Approval from the DCA and NHC
Fresh Start Construction Company entered into two standard Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Development Agreements with the NHC. In the construction industry, it is standard for Development Agreements to include Terms, Conditions, and other clauses. All parties involved had complete awareness of the conditions detailed within the agreements.
Choc: Through the NHC, The Development Control Authority approved the Choc Development Application on August 14th, 2019. This was communicated in writing.
The Agreement for the Choc project was officially signed on December 30th, 2019, and later amended on May 18th, 2020.
Talvern: Through the NHC, The Development Control Authority approved the Talvern Application on February 5th, 2020. This was communicated in writing.
The Agreement for the Talvern project was officially signed on September 7th, 2020.
Under this project, 38 of the 131 lots have been lodged and accepted by the Land Registry Survey and Mapping Section of the Ministry of Physical Planning.
- 80/20 Arrangement
According to the signed Agreement and as further explained via formal letter to the relevant parties, the conditions of this arrangement were that the NHC provides bare lands which Fresh Start would develop into serviceable lots with all amenities.
Fresh Start agreed to finance the entire infrastructural works and developmental costs which were estimated at EC $40 million.
The repayment terms established that lot sales would be split between Fresh Start and NHC on an 80/20 basis until Fresh Start recovered the full extent of its investment (estimated $40 million).
To clarify, once the initial investment was recovered, ALL sales thereafter (at the NHC’s set prices) would inure to the corporation.
This agreement allowed the NHC to benefit by profit while Fresh Start’s initial investment (estimated $40 million) was recovered.
- Impact on Workers and Service Providers
The true cost of this sudden termination is its impact on the people of Saint Lucia. Fresh Start’s unique construction model focuses on outsourcing, up-skilling, and employing and involving not only people, but various service providers and communities. The company develops both people and communities by employing and outsourcing within the locations we service.
Therefore, the termination of the Choc and Talvern Development Projects resulted in the loss of income to the following persons:
- 220 direct workers
- 20 sub-contractors; each with an average crew of 12
- 60 truckers
- Equipment operators
- Cement operators
- Food vendors associated with these projects lost a monthly average of $50,000.00 a month
Additionally, importantly and unfortunately, the several interested homemakers who were looking forward to owning an affordable piece of Saint Lucia are left without the assurance they once felt.
- Termination of Agreement
Once Fresh Start received the termination notices, the company complied fully. We have demobilized; all equipment has been removed, the sites and keys were handed over to the NHC.
The company now finds itself in a position where it is forced to recover its investment before the sale of lands. On December 22nd, 2021, detailed claims for both projects were submitted to the NHC. These claims include costs associated with work done as well as Termination Damages.
Notwithstanding this unfortunate turn of events, Fresh Start has offered the assurance that it remains committed to continuing work with the Government of Saint Lucia and its agencies that are engaged in the development of the island.
While the company understands the local media fraternity’s mandate to furnish news stories and articles, Fresh Start encourages media agencies to operate with factual information. The publishing of misleading information can have a direct negative impact on the reputation of any business. All supporting documents (in their entirety) can be found through the relevant agencies.
While Fresh Start remains open to constructive discourse regarding the matters listed, we do hope for a speedy resolution to continue with our business and provide employment opportunities to all Saint Lucians.
As a company of the soil that has experienced adversity in the past, we will overcome this challenge by remaining steadfast, focused, honest, and fair. All Saint Lucians deserve the opportunity to benefit from the development of affordable properties around the island. Fresh Start Construction will work towards making this dream a reality.