By Namini Wijedasa
On Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne’s request, the Cabinet has instructed the Housing Ministry to entertain an unsolicited proposal for the re-development of Torrington Flats on Thimbirigasyaya Road by a company in which Mr Senaratne’s younger brother is a director.
In November, the Housing Ministry put forward its own proposal to the Cabinet to re-develop the present site of the Torrington Flats “as a high-yield urban residential site, whilst ensuring the ownership rights of the present condominium owners”. Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa’s memorandum sought permission to designate the Condominium Management Authority (CMA) as the implementing agency for the project in terms of the CMA Law of 1973.
The memo also requested Cabinet sanction to direct the CMA to prepare the redevelopment plans in consultation with the relevant agencies subject to the final planning approval of the Urban Development Authority and the Colombo Municipal Council.
However, at a Cabinet meeting held earlier this month, Health Minister Senaratne requested that an unsolicited proposal for the project be considered. This is reflected in the minutes of the meeting. The company that put forward the bid is Sky Mount Holdings (Pvt) Ltd. Its directors are Minister Senaratne’s younger brother Maheel, Chrishantha de Silva and Shantha Herath.
“After discussion, the Cabinet having noted that a prospective investor has submitted an unsolicited proposal for the re-development of the Torrington Flats, decided to request the Minister of Housing and Construction to (i) direct the relevant officials of his Ministry to examine the proposals in the above Memorandum along with the feasibility of the proposal submitted by the prospective investor for the re-development of the Torrington flats; and (ii) to submit a fresh proposal for the purpose, based on the outcome of (i) above, to the Cabinet, for consideration,” state the minutes, a copy of which was obtained by the Sunday Times.
No decision has been reached yet on the award of the contract to Sky Mount Holdings, the Sunday Times learns. The declared route is to call for open competitive bidding. However, the company has already reported its involvement on its website. In September, it claimed to have received individual consent letters from owners of the housing units at Torrington Flats. And in October it said the €813.3mn joint venture mixed development project between Sky Mount Holdings and Skyline Profits (HK) Ltd has been submitted to the Board of Investment (BOI) for approval.
Sky Mount says it will build 1,000 to 1,200 units on 870 perches of land. The plan is to initially have four to six towers of 42 floors each with “about 200 super luxury housing units in each of the towers”. “The project owners/promoters/investors are expecting to sell the housing units to local and foreign buyers/dwellers commencing from the 4th year of construction (on completion of the construction) and this project will be a unique up market apartment complex with all many international amenities and quality of construction,” the website states.
Maheel Senaratne was earlier Chairman of the Ceylon Fisheries Corporation when his brother was the subject Minister. In his CV published on the Sky Mount website, he cites Minister Senarate as his sole referee. Sky Mount Holdings was registered in July last year and claims to be focusing on construction-related real estate projects such as road, condominiums and mixed-use developments.