Hard sell: Only one unit has been sold at the Government project Grand Atlantic, which was meant to be low cost housing. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Hard sell: Only one unit has been sold at the Government project Grand Atlantic, which was meant to be low cost housing. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 10: Government could sell off a new housing development to the private sector or rent the apartments out because of a lack of buyers willing to sign on the dotted line, the Bermuda Sun can reveal.

The Ministry of Public Works yesterday confirmed they are looking at Warwick’s Grand Atlantic development and other buildings owned by the Bermuda Housing Corporation to put empty buildings to good use.

A spokesman for Public Works Minister Michael Weeks confirmed: “As a result of the weak response to the sale of the units, the Bermuda Housing Corporation is currently considering targeted options regarding the management, sale, leasing and development of all of its assets, including the Grand Atlantic units.

“We are confident that in time the units will be put to use with minimal financial impact on the public purse.”

The spokesman added: “When a decision is made, we will update the public on the way forward.”

The news came as it was revealed earlier this month that only one of the 50-plus apartments completed at the site on South Shore Road had been sold.

Buddy Rego, head of real estate firm Rego Sotheby’s, said that — if the apartments were rented out — it could depress the already struggling sales market for condominiums even further.

Mr Rego said: “The rental market in that area has probably suffered even more in terms of value, certainly in the past two years.

But he added: “If you are a prospective tenant, however, it’s a great opportunity. I would suspect there would be certain stipulations — that it would be considered subsidized living or it might be offered at market rates.

“If they have qualified tenants, they would be able to help out a lot of people, which is their responsibility.”

The development is scheduled to be built in three phases, with the first 24-apartment phase having been given occupancy certificates.

The second phase of 27 apartments was finished in the summer, with the final phase, also of 27 homes, available next year.

Prices at Grand Atlantic start at $495,000 for a two bedroom apartment to $560,000 for a three bedroom apartment, both with garden views.

Grand Atlantic was proposed three years ago as a way to meet a need for more affordable homes for Bermudian families.

But — as the recession began to bite — potential buyers backed off, despite good viewing figures for an open day at the site.

Government struck a deal with the Bank of Butterfield in March to provide special 100 per cent mortgage deals to entice eligible buyers — but it did not produce a flood of purchasers.

The Government spokesman said: “The Government remains committed to delivering quality and affordable homes for all Bermudians.

“We are proud of our record of delivery of housing over the past 14 years and look forward to more families being able to take advantage of this new development as we continue to ensure that more families realize the dream of home ownership.”