Windsor Estates admits…Florida-style gated community is not a guarantee
A number of private developers are preparing to build homes in what are called gated communities.
These are advertised promises of fenced, residential areas with security cameras and guard huts, pools, shopping areas and landscaping similar to projects in other countries, like the US, Canada and the UK. The idea is to provide a higher quality of living in an exclusive area.
One such company is Windsor Estates, a company that has links with US-based Guyanese contractor, Danny Sawh.
The entity unveiled ambitious plans to build a gated community behind Republic Park, East Bank Demerara, complete with closed circuit television (CCTV), pool, landscaping and homes constructed to US standards.
The homes, ranging between 1,300 square feet to 3,550, will start from $24M and can go up to $46M. Potential homeowners will pay an advance and the rest over a period agreed on until the keys are handed over.
Windsor Estates burst onto the housing scene earlier this year, in a media blitz during the regional T20 cricket, sponsoring prizes and TV coverage and even the Amazon Warriors.
Last week, Kaieteur News caught up with Danny Sawh, Chief Executive Officer and his Operations Manager, Graeme Ali.
The officials made it clear that while there has been skepticism as to whether Windsor Estates can deliver on its promises, the company’s credibility is riding on project.
Windsor Estates is being developed by Navigant Builders, a subsidiary of Stonewall Contracting Corporation in College Point, New York. Stonewall claims to have been in business since 1990 and has completed numerous public and private projects costing between US$100,000 to US$40 million.
According to Sawh, his projects include new schools, courthouses, underground train stations, hospitals, theaters, playgrounds, police facilities, public housing, a multi-million-dollar high end restaurant in Rockefeller Plaza in New York and a US$3.5M high-end residential home in Westchester, New York.
Windsor Estates has purchased 25 acres, behind Republic Park, from the Ministry of Housing for the first phase called North Haven in which 71 homes are to be built with 40 of them already bought by locals.
Speaking from his Bel Air office, Sawh said that since the early ‘90s he has been involved in the construction business in the US, building what later became “the largest Caribbean-owned construction firm involved in public contracts”.
However, he said that he was more interested in becoming a developer as most of the contracts he had been involved in had already been designed. “The creative aspect was missing. It was something that I wanted to try. Design and build.”
However, the US economy crash in 2008 dashed any hopes of that. Sawh, who has been coming to Guyana annually, decided to examine the local market.
“I was looking and seeing the development. While one was going down (Guyana), the other was going up (US).”
He was interested in a hotel but Government’s intention to build a Marriott-branded facility halted this. Sawh then started eyeing a possible golf course. However, the 300 acres needed for such an ambitious project was not worthwhile as the available lands were way up the Soesdyke/Linden highway.
The contractor continued to look and decided that he would bring to Guyana a gated community. “There was no real structured development and lots of promises.”
He applied to the Housing Ministry and after a year was sold 25 acres.
Sawh is intent on bringing a structured, western-styled setting to Windsor and believes that it can be done. “It has never been done and will generally change the way housing development will look like. I don’t think anyone believed we were going to deliver, we do get that.”
But rains have been affecting the drive to bring the community into being. Works to build roads in the area are six months behind. In six weeks, Windsor will present its first model home with the drains and other structures taking shape.
On Windsor Estates’ website, computer-generated images of the homes are very prominent, with beautiful lawns, trees and an entrance of the gated community.
Sawh admitted that there is really no guarantee that Windsor Estates can deliver all that it is advertising. “I think there is no way really (to guarantee). I think you will just have to wait and see…what can we say to convince?”