"Cobblestone Inn lease ended in 2010" Says PM Gonsalves

A lease agreement between National properties Limited (NPL) and operator of Cobblestone Inn, Ann Joshua, expired on February 28, 2010.

This disclosure was made Sunday, July 17, 2016, by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, in a telephone call to WEFM’s issue at hand program.

According to Dr. Gonsalves, who holds Ministerial responsibility for National Properties Ltd (NPL), the lease was put in place on March 1st, 2005, after renovations were made to the Cobblestone Inn property during the 2003 / 04 period.

The renovations were made by NPL after it took over the property from another state entity.

After the lease ended, the relationship continued from a month to month basis, though issues surrounding cost of monthly rent came to the fore, from time to time.

Prime Minister Gonsalves’ response came after a mixed public reaction to the announcement that the operator of the establishment, Ann Joshua, was served notice to quit on September 30th, 2016.

Joshua has held her operation at the state-owned property for around 30 years.

“As far as I know, when Ann got the property first, there was not an open tendering process” – Gonsalves said.

“When we came to office, she was in the building and she was simply kept there, the relationship went on.

The government has decided, however, in the interest of transparency and for proper development of that property and other government properties that we should have an open tendering process, but first, you have to bring this relationship legally to an end” – he added.

Prime Minister Gonsalves said a public tender process will commence and “Ann herself can apply and bid for the property like any other Vincentian”.

“There is nobody that the government has in mind in respect of the property, absolutely no one” – he added.

“Chief Executive Officer of National Properties Ltd, Mr. Hally Dougan had told Mrs. Joshua that it was going to go out for tender and that she could bid” – Dr. Gonsalves noted.

 24, 000 per month rent

Roughly 2,600 square feet (2,562 square feet) of floor space was added with suites, moving the 9067 square feet property to 11, 629 square feet in 2003 -2004 period.

A professional valuation of the property was secured before a lease agreement went into effect in 2005.

“It revealed that before 2005 that the market rental should be XCD $33, 466. 75 per month (1 XCD = 0.37 USD) , for 11, 629 square feet” – Dr. Gonsalves disclosed.

“The assessment was as follows; the roof bar floor – at $1.75 per square foot of floor space, the first floor – $2.50 per square foot and the ground floor, where the bulk of the renovation was done – $5.00 per square foot”, giving you on an average, $2.87 per square foot – the Prime Minister outlined.

Break down of lease agreement

  • March 1st, 2005 – July 31st, 2006 – rent figure was 18,000 per month
  • 2nd year – 19,000 per month
  • 3rd year – 20,000 per month
  • 4th year 21,000 per month
  • 5th year 21,000 per month

“The lease was registered as lease document 3699 of 2005. There has been no lease since then. You have just had the month – to month arrangement”.

In 2009 Joshua wrote to Gonsalves requesting a rebate on the rent. Dr. Gonsalves referred the matter to the Director General of Finance, who looked into the matter and secured the reduction, because of the global economic downturn at that time – Gonsalves said.

From March 1st, 2011, the rent was increased to $24, 150, in the same vein as it had been increasing for years.

“Ann Joshua has been asking National properties and she has spoken to me about further reductions of the rent. I spoke to National properties and they said that they asked Ann to provide them with audited statements if she’s saying that it is a strain to pay the rent. She refused.” – Gonsalves revealed.

“I’m told that they even asked her for her management accounts. She’s refused…. Because if you say you’re not making any money, well… show your Landlord. They may give you some consideration, in the way in which I had asked them to give consideration at an earlier period in 2009” – Gonsalves added.

“This rent of $24,000 is just 2.07 cents per square foot. I want anybody renting a property around town; ask if they can get a prime property like that for $2.07 per square foot.

People would be amazed that it’s only 24,000 and 11 years ago, a professional valuation said the rent should have been 33,000 per month” – Gonsalves stated.

First Published WEFM SVG

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