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Jan 31, 2018

The Big Plans for P.U.C.’s Western Highway Land

The Public Utilities Commission bought thirteen and a half acres of property intended to become the P.U.C.’s headquarters at mile four on the George Price Highway in 2011. They paid Thomas Shaw a total of nine hundred and fifty thousand dollars, an average of seventy thousand per acre. That is a price considered similar to beachfront property for an area not far from swamp. The Commission paid a further three hundred thousand for filling and clearing just three acres of the property between 2012 and 2016. And further money was shelled out for consulting contracts to build the headquarters, including to the Arguelles’ brothers firm, International Environments. Chairman John Avery contends that the purchase and the P.U.C.’s plans for the area are worth it.

 

John Avery

John Avery, Chair, Public Utilities Commission

“When we decided to acquire that piece of land we were looking at five, six different options. That one was the closest to Belize City and the average price per acre was about sixty-three thousand dollars; there was fifty thousand there for stamp duty but generally the person who buys the land pays that. Every other option was well above a hundred thousand per acre. In fact there was two lots, a hundred by a hundred right here on the Northern Highway; they offered to sell it to us, they wanted a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a hundred by hundred foot piece of land, both pieces. We purchased that piece of land and with respect to the filling; we decided that we wanted the land to be five feet above the high tide level, so that when a hurricane comes, when we have a tsunami scare that we had the other day, the investment is protected. That land, as far as we are concerned, we are going to use a piece of it to build our property. We would have hoped to develop that entire piece of property into a industrial, science and technology park to create jobs for Belizeans. Another option – if B.W.S. down the road might expand their sewer system, need land to put up a sewer lagoon, that is also a consideration. We wouldn’t want to do that; we’d prefer to see it develop – we would want to see data centers and call centers occupy that property. It’s a good investment for the people of Belize. You have thirteen and a half acres within two miles of downtown and when we reviewed the land in April, when we purchased that land, we walked the entire length of that property; other properties we considered you couldn’t make twenty feet you’re under water, even in the dry season. And people have a lot to say, I want someone to show me where you can get land that close to Belize [City] for less than sixty-three thousand dollars an acre.”

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