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PM’s son in line for apartment

 
 
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HDC’s Fidelis Heights apartment development at St Augustine where Brian Manning, son of the Prime Minister Patrick Manning, is seeking to live. PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER

Fidelis Heights issue

  • PM’s son applied for apartment
  • HDC says application was made two years ago.
  • “He meets the criteria”

By Gail Alexander

Brian Manning, son of Prime Minister Patrick Manning, applied two years ago for an apartment in the Housing Development Authority’s upscale Fidelis Heights development in St Augustine, HDC managing director Noel Garcia confirmed yesterday.

The Fidelis Heights development is one of HDC’s pricier projects, located at Gordon Street and Santa Margarita corner in the upscale eastern suburb—opposite the Hugh Wooding Law School.

Garcia spoke on the situation, after queries on the matter to Planning and Housing Minister Emily Dick-Forde at yesterday’s weekly post-Cabinet media briefing.

Dick-Forde said she was not aware of an allocation for Manning.

However, Garcia confirmed Manning’s application was made to HDC two years ago “like that of any normal citizen of T&T.”

“Mr Manning (Brian) is currently going through the assessment process,” Garcia said.

“As far as I am aware no allocation has been made for Fidelis Heights yet, so if there is any question whether he has been actually allocated an apartment there, it is very much a premature question as far as I’m concerned.”

Garcia said Manning’s application came through normal channels—via an application form submitted to HDC and entered into the Authority’s database.

He said the main criteria for application of any HDC property was that the applicant must be a resident citizen of T&T and not the owner of property.

“Manning, as far as I’m aware, is a resident citizen of T&T,” Garcia said.

“He’s made an application and it is being assessed like any other citizen— he’s one of thousands who apply to HDC.

“Quite a number of people applied for Fidelis Heights units and this development will be allocated shortly.”

Garcia said the Government had taken a decision not to subsidise this particular development.

It is being sold at market rates in HDC’s thrust to expand and attract an open market clientele.

The development is therefore not part of HDC’s provision of subsidised housing for low-income earners.

HDC’s promotion puts the prices for units at Fidelis Heights in a range between $566,000 and $877,000.

Female co-applicant

Guardian checks confirmed that Manning’s application was made jointly, in name with another—female—applicant whose workplace is listed as a Federation Park research institute.

Manning, 33, was a business analyst with the Inter-American Development Bank and a business development analyst with Neal and Massy.

In 2006, he became head of PNM’s Web site committee.

Speaking then, Manning said he was a businessman and did not intend to follow his father into politics.

He said he was concentrating on projects.

Last year, young Manning was the centre of some controversy when he submitted a proposal to the Basketball Federation for establishment of a semi-professional basketball league.

Estimates were that it would cost taxpayers $3 million. The plan had not got off the ground to date, sports officials said.

Yesterday, calculations revealed that in order to afford a mortgage of one of the Fidelis Heights’ apartments, a prospective homeowner may have to have a salary range of around $30,000 monthly.

The development which cost more than $140 million was completed recently.

It was in construction over the past four years.

Sod-turning for the development took place in 2004.

The development comprises 180 units in its Phase 1 and Phase 2 plan.

The apartments involve three-bedroom units and three-bedroom plus basement townhouses.

Former housing minister Keith Rowley—now Trade Minister—was not in office yesterday.

At the sod-turning for the Fidelis development, Rowley had noted that low cost-housing was a thing of the past due to high-priced land and property value.

Panday calls for disclosure

Yesterday, Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday called for full disclosure on the matter.

“We have heard that HDC houses are allocated on a lottery system,” he said.

“In this case if the houses are for sale and young Manning can afford it, it will be interesting to know where he got the money from and if he is getting an allocation ahead of anyone else.

“We’d like to know how many other people have applied and how many have been refused for this particular development,” Panday said.

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