March 13, 2015
Boyea backs away from ‘new city delay to blame’ comment

Ormiston “Ken” Boyea is backing away from an earlier statement that he is paying the penalty for the delay in the opening of the new city at Arnos Vale.

Describing his remarks as an “innocent comment,” the businessman told SEARCHLIGHT in an interview on Wednesday that in no way is he placing blame for his financial challenges on the delay in the opening of the Argyle international airport and the new city at Arnos Vale.{{more}}

“When we are looking at development, it’s a holistic thing. I’m not blameless; I should have looked into it. I should have seen that while a supermarket loves Arnos Vale, the sales are growing, people pass, they have adequate parking, they could take their time and shop. It’s a different thing to ask a person to move their staff to Arnos Vale when schools are in town,” the businessman said.

On Monday, Boyea had told SEARCHLIGHT that he has had difficulty getting the upstairs of the supermarket, which was built for offices, rented. This, he said, contributed to the difficulty he has experienced in meeting his payments on the $16 million mortgage he took to construct the mall at Arnos Vale.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, responding to a question posed at a press conference on Tuesday, declared that the delay in transforming Arnos Vale into the new city should not be blamed for Boyea’s failed investment.

“Let us just deal with the years. You started to build that place in 2010 out at Arnos Vale. Say the airport should have been finished in 2012, 2013. Anybody seriously expect you can build a whole city out at Arnos Vale there in less than five years?” Gonsalves questioned.

“…I would have thought that the more important point was the one which he made which was listen, ‘I spent too much money building the thing I built out Arnos Vale’.

The Prime Minister pointed out that in 2010, during the earlier stages of the economic downturn, KFC grew by five per cent over 2009. He noted that meanwhile, the country’s economy dropped by an aggregate of four per cent in 2009 and 2010.

“You had two KFC, one downtown and one uptown, but a third one was opened in Arnos Vale, you know. You would only open a third one if two can’t supply the demand,” Gonsalves reasoned.

Boyea, however, says in retrospect, he should have undertaken the project in phases.

“Hopefully other people will learn from my mistake. I am a perfectionist and if you go around St Vincent, you would see a lot of buildings that have intentions of going up another floor. My architect wouldn’t allow me to do that because he designed something that was beautiful and he didn’t want me to do something in two phases, but maybe I should have done it. I should have just left the top floor empty and built on it later. “