An overview of Oryx Residences.
CAY HILL–Oryx Residences, the first housing project of the General Pension Fund APS, has seen an overwhelming number of pension fund members and others from the general community sign up for the 62 units set to come available in the coming weeks.
More than 500 persons have put their names down for consideration for a unit. The process is not as simple as putting your name down; applicants have to qualify for a mortgage based on the bank’s criteria. APS is working with Banco di Caribe to issue mortgages and with Key Real Estate as an agent.
Most of the units should be completed by the end of the month with APS envisioning the first batch of homeowners turning their keys before Christmas. The pre-selection of potential buyers is ongoing, with sales agreements expected in the near future.
The Oryx Residences neighbourhood, which represents a NAf. 20 million-plus investment by APS, will have a homeowners’ association to oversee its maintenance and upkeep. There are already mechanisms in place for collective insurance.
Those who qualify for units have a range of choices. Oryx Residences offers two- and three-bedroom townhouses with the possibility to add another level that could be used to create a master bedroom suite with a roof terrace. Designs and permits are already available for homeowners from APS.
Then there are one- and two-bedroom apartments. The three-bedroom apartments have a lockout option that can create a two-bedroom apartment with a lock-out studio. This configuration is perfect for multi-generational households or for possible rental income. There is also covered parking for residents.
All townhouses have a backyard of some five square metres. The two-bedroom apartments on the first level of the apartment building have backyards as well, though slightly smaller.
Open concept kitchens and Juliet balconies are features of Oryx Residences. “Most homes on the island have large balconies versus tiny Juliet balconies. However, Juliet balconies bring the outdoors to you; it gives a sense of being outdoors,” said APS representatives Kendra Arnell and Miurica Williams.
All units have a selection of views spanning from the landscaped courtyard to a bit of the ocean and the rolling hills. Oryx Residences is also well situated close to the hospital, school and other amenities.
Hurricane Irma did not affect the original design of Oryx Residences. The engineers and designers had already factored in the effects of a category-five hurricane and those of an earthquake.
Work to create Oryx Hill Residences started in November 2015 with government acquiring land in Cay Hill and leasing it to APS to develop cost-effective housing. This goal APS has kept close in its sight. The unit prices at Oryx Residences reflect this mandate with sale prices not exceeding US $250,000.
The APS representatives pointed out that that demand is very much there for housing in APS’ price range. “There isn’t much supply, so demand is very high at Oryx Residences,” they said.
Oryx Residences is “our way to meet the needs of our active participants. They wanted to have a benefit now and not wait until they were 60-plus,” said Arnell.
“When APS started, many participants queried about what the pension fund could do for them now, while they were still working, as opposed to waiting until retirement to collect accrued pension benefits. Mortgages were a product offered by the fund’s predecessor APNA to participants via their subsidiary company CHB. This project ‘fits the bill’ nicely.”
For this reason, pension fund members have “preferred status” when it comes to assigning units; however, they must qualify for a mortgage. There is also consideration for first-time buyers.
Buyers will be required to be the principal dweller in the unit for up to two years after purchase. This clause will be built into the deed. This is seen as a way to ensure people who are truly seeking a home of their own get the first preference and that Oryx Residences does not become a neighbourhood of absentee owners.
Overall, APS has put much thought into the Oryx Residences project. There is attention to detail and the addition of elements to create a true sense of community with designated green spaces, a playground and central park area. “Some 200 people live here at Oryx Residences. We live in the Caribbean where outdoor space is good. It is also a safe place for children. Most households have an average of two children. We wanted to create that sense of community,” said Arnell.
Oryx Residences is more than green spaces. The development has its own sewage treatment plan.
The success of Oryx Residences, named from the road in Cay Hill on which the development is situated, will determine how APS continues this line of investment in the future. The biggest hurdle to further housing offerings will be the availability of cost-effective land, a commodity that is in very limited supply in St. Maarten.