Opinion: Emilio Wilson Estate

POSTED: 10/25/12 12:17 PM

It has been silent around the government’s plans to purchase the Emilio Wilson Estate. We are now confronted with a situation whereby the government has expressed its willingness to buy the estate and whereby nothing happens because said government does not have the money to clinch the deal.
We gather from information provided during yesterday’s Council of Ministers press briefing that the estate-owner Henri Brookson (to be fair: he owns half of it) is getting a bit impatient. We would be impatient too if somebody offered us $17 million.
The question is obviously: what will happen next? Apparently no contract has been signed yet, so Brookson could easily go back to Rainforest Adventures and say something like – hey, sorry for the delay guys, but let’s get on with our old plan.
If we look at other plans that have been stalled because of funding issues we just do not have a good feeling about the Emilio Wilson Estate deal. There was (and apparently is) still no money to finish the new government administration building this situation has existed for years. And even though there was no money, the government did pay up to this year $9.1 million in lease fees.
The building is still empty and in spite of all kinds of optimistic press releases about the fire safety stuff that is going to be installed, it seems that the doors to the building are closed at hours when contractors should be at work. They are not.
The government administration building is a disaster nobody wants to touch. The proof is in the pudding: the continued silence of the parliament.
Now we’re looking at a similar situation with the Emilio Wilson Estate. Again, there is no money. One could of course ask the question: why pay $17 million for a piece of property Brookson and the Paas-family acquired for $5 million? And leave a piece of the estate to the owners for development?
The main concern right now is that the purchase-plans will come to nought, that Brookson will lose his patience and that he will go looking for a different business deal. Fair enough: it’s his property and the man will not wait forever for his $17 million. For all we know, that day may never come.
Is there then another sensible solution that will safeguard the estate against ugly development plans? For sure, a zoning plan could nail the property down as the monument it is and prevent all future development. That way, the price for the estate could go down as well, because developers are not interested in a piece of land they are not allowed to do anything with.
In that situation, the land loses its value and the country could then acquire it for a much more palatable price. Would Brookson take a 40 percent profit and let the estate go for, say, $7 million? Or would he prefer to hang on to it and pay the mortgage for the next seventeen years?

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