Home News NIB to sell ‘Apsara’ property | News Extra

NIB to sell ‘Apsara’ property | News Extra

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Next month, the National Insurance Board (NIB) will put up for sale the property that housed the fine dining restaurants Apsara, Tamnak Thai, and Siam nightclubs at 13 Queen’s Park East in Port of Spain.

The property is valued at $ 20.2 million in NIB books. Last Thursday, NIB published a newspaper ad and prepared a request for proposal for NIB’s “Providing Services Related to Proposals to Sell Six Lots of Land.”

Sunday Express understands that the latest valuation of Queen’s Park East assets was made by Linden Scott and Associates in 2021.

Last year, the lessor R & M Property Holdings repeatedly failed to meet its lease obligations, causing the NIB to own the property as a controversial owner and landlord.

The property is currently vacant for 14 months.

At that time, the NIB Investment Commission recommended the sale of the property. This was postponed because the board at the time wanted to consider real estate options.

However, after the last board period expired and the installation of the new board was delayed, the resolution on what the NIB would do with the properties did not come true.

Accommodations for restaurants and nightclubs are located a few meters from NIB’s headquarters around the savanna.

Sunday Express was told in the property valuation that the structure of the property was of little value. The attraction of the property is its location.

The lease is between NIB and R & M, which is owned by Sharif Mohammed and Marie Kavanagh.

R & M was unable to pay NIB a monthly rent of $ 125,000 between July 2019 and March 2021.

On March 3, 2021, NIB secured assets

A few days later, on March 6, the Facebook pages of Thai restaurants in Apsara and Tum Nak announced that they would be temporarily closed “due to unforeseen circumstances” and that they would “reopen soon.”

On March 8, R & M lawyers offered to pay $ 4,021,996.44 to settle their debt.

The total is as follows:

• $ 1,687,500. This represents a rental delinquency at 13 Queen’s Park East from April 2020 to March 2021 ($ 125,000 + VAT per month for 12 months).

• $ 1,265,625. This represents a rent delinquency for the period from July 2019 to March 2020 (9 months monthly $ 125,000 + VAT).

• $ 1,068,496.44 represents an order received by the NIB from Judge Frank Seapersad in December 2020, after the Board filed a rent delinquency in 2018.

In a letter on March 8, R & M requested NIB to pay $ 4,021996.44 and allow re-entry to the property, subject to the terms contained in the original lease, so that the business could resume operations. did.

NIB rejected the offer.

Apsara Restaurant was reopened in Movie Towne last year.

Questions about purchasing

The acquisition of real estate by the NIB in 2014 was subject to audit by the Treasury’s Central Audit Unit and the NIB was determined to have no monetary value.

In 2014, NIB paid $ 37 million for buildings, $ 32 million for real estate, and $ 5 million for refurbishments.

After that, NIB signed a 10-year leaseback agreement with the owner of R & M Ltd.

Tenant R & M will pay NIB $ 96,000 per month for the first four years and $ 125,000 for the remaining six years.

Ten years later, R & M had the option to buy back the property.

The rent increase was applied by April 2018.

R & M has complained to the NIB that it was unable to pay the new rent due to business challenges faced with inadequate parking.

NIB proposed to R & M to rent parking space from an adjacent office for $ 29,000 a month, but the company refused because it would raise the monthly rent for the restaurant to $ 154,000.

Mohammed, who occupied the site 20 years ago, said he bought about 19,000 square feet of real estate from CIBC at 13 Queen’s Park East for $ 1.9 million in 1991.

Real estate valuation

An audit conducted by the Treasury’s Central Audit Committee on May 10, 2017 noted that the NIB did not evaluate assets that spent $ 37 million.

Instead, at the time, the company relied on two valuations submitted by R & M, with real estate prices at $ 32 million.

On January 7, 2014, four months after the sale took place, NIB commissioned an independent valuation by Linden Scott & Associates, bringing the real estate public market price to $ 16.5 million.

“The appraiser states that the building is not valued and that the building on the premises is more than 60 years old and has exceeded its useful life,” the audit said.

In addition, NIB paid a premium price of $ 2,014 per square foot for the Queen’s Park East property. This is a higher rate than other properties purchased around Savannah at the time.

Comparing properties sold around 13 Queen’s Park East, prices for three properties with demolished buildings ranged from $ 879 to $ 1,310 per square foot.

Also, vacant lots of special interest to buyers were sold at a premium price of $ 1,534 per square foot in 2010, and NIB itself purchased 19 Queen’s Park East vacant lots for $ 1,004 per square foot. I also paid attention to that. ..

“Based on the price paid, and except for real estate buildings, that meant NIB would have paid $ 2,014 per square foot to land in 13 Queens Park East,” the report said. rice field.

The audit, based on the reviewed document and the events leading up to the NIB Investment Commission agreeing to the counter-proposal, “NIB will carry out appropriate due diligence prior to entering into this purchase and leaseback agreement. It seems they didn’t. “

“Also, the NIB seems to be unaware or unaware of the bargaining power of the time,” he said.

“Whenever funds from the National Health Insurance (NI) Fund are invested in the future, for some reason, it is recorded that the NIB will carry out appropriate due diligence as needed before concluding a contract. increase.

“The NIB is more careful in identifying when it is in a position to negotiate strength, and to exercise such strength to ensure that the best value of money is obtained in such situations. It is also recorded that every effort must be made, “said the audit.

“If R & M doesn’t exercise the option to buy back the property, it’s very likely that it’s at a disadvantage to R & M Ltd, so according to Linden Scott & Associates Ltd, the building isn’t worth it, and it’s also NIB.”

NIB did not respond to inquiries from the Sunday Express.

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