GraceKennedy Group - GraceKennedy Ltd. starts next phase of construction of new Headquarters
Friday, 03 March 2017 00:00

GraceKennedy Ltd. starts next phase of construction of new Headquarters

Downtown Kingston is closer to having its landscape beautifully enhanced as GraceKennedy Ltd moves into the next phase of constructing its new corporate headquarters located at Lot 21 Harbour Street.

Work started with the hoarding of the site in February 2016, followed by specialised soil preparation. The site is now fully prepared for work to begin on the main building.

Eighty per cent of the labour for the project will be Jamaican and through community stakeholders and the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation a skills bank of men and women who have expressed an interest in working on the site has been developed.  This information has been shared with the project managers for their selection of qualified persons.

“Over the life of the project there is potential for up to 150 Jamaican skilled and unskilled labourers to be employed directly or through sub-contractors to the project. The contractors will use a maximum of 33 specialists from outside of Jamaica. Any change to the number of external labour needed will require special approvals,” said Don Wehby, CEO of GraceKennedy.

The 10 floor building will be constructed by China Sinopharm International Corporation (CSIC) which met the requirements of a selective tender issued in September 2016.  Four bids were submitted, two from local and two from overseas service providers. 
An analysis of the bids revealed that Sinopharm's was within two per cent of the estimate of the construction cost, as assessed by local Chartered Quantity Surveyors, Berkeley & Spence. The pool of technical experts on the project was unanimous in their recommendation that CSIC be the selected Main Contractor.

The technical team includes Jamaican firms, International Built Environment Consultants (IBEC); Bob Fowler & Associates Ltd; Hue Lyew Chin Engineering Ltd; Beverley Rousseau Interiors and OMNI Services Company Limited.
The contract was signed between GraceKennedy and CSIC on February 10, 2017 and work began on March 1.

“This is an important project and another demonstration of GraceKennedy’s commitment to downtown Kingston. The building will add a contemporary look to the area while increasing the use of downtown for commercial activity. This is GraceKennedy’s fourth development on Harbour Street and as with our recent projects the immediate community as well as wider business community are key partners as they supply labour and professional technical services to the site,” Mr. Wehby said.

So far, GraceKennedy has spent some J$330 million to procure the services of professionals, vendors, labourers and to pay regulatory fees to bring the project to its present state of readiness. Local quarries provided 4000 metric tonnes (approximately eight million pounds) of stone for use in the soil strengthening process.  Additionally, a list of local well-known professional service providers has been provided to the contractors for their review and selection.

The overall cost of the project is expected to be US$25 million with a completion target of November 2018. Michael Ranglin, Executive Chairman for GraceKennedy Properties Ltd. has oversight for its development.

“This has been such an interesting project, I’ve learnt a lot about the geology of the area and the extraordinary expertise required for building here. We have spoken with the partners about facilitating tours and other learning opportunities for students of construction and architecture. This construction is a benefit to downtown Kingston and to all Jamaica,” Don Wehby said.

GraceKennedy has been in downtown Kingston for 95 years and renews that commitment ever so often with new economic and social investment in the area. In 2012 the GK Financial Centre was constructed at the corner of Harbour and Duke Streets and in 1997 a new corporate office was developed at 73 Harbour Street. 

Through Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation, two homework centres are run in the Parade Gardens community located on Tower Street and Water/Ladd Lane. More than 340 children receive extra lessons, counselling, mentorship and exposure to science, computer use, music and technology. 

GraceKennedy plans to renovate the homework centres and increase their capacity to serve children over the next five years. Grace and Staff is also active in schools within the area, assisting with breakfast programmes and other interventions.
Adults from the community are also able to receive family counselling from a professional counselling psychologist, assistance with their CVs, job search and other forms of social support.