How Did Grand Belizean Estates Acquire Prime Land in San Pedro?
Manuel Heredia Jr.
How did San Pedro developers Grand Belizean Estates get a hold of land conservatively worth at least four million dollars for only three hundred and fifty thousand dollars? And where does Minister Manuel Heredia Junior fit into the mix? The story goes back to 2011 when directors of San Pedro Junior College approached Heredia Junior for assistance to construct a school building. One year after, the School had their building, worth three hundred thousand dollars, while Grand Belizean Estates had fifty acres of land worth millions. Today we got an explanation from Heredia Junior himself, via phone.
On the Phone: Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism
“I approached Cabinet about the situation and at the time they told me that government didn’t have the cash or the finances to do the three hundred and fifty thousand dollar Junior College that Maestro Angel wanted to do. They told me that if I could find another way the Cabinet is willing to help and they believe the need is there. I did my research and beside land that the previous administration had sold to some friends, there was fifty acres that they didn’t manage to do the final transaction, so it was still G.O.B. land. So I approached Grand Belize who had bought the hundred acres from these two particular persons and said look…we need three hundred and fifty thousand. They said but we only paid two hundred and fifty, two hundred and seventy five thousand for the other two parcels. I said man but this is a high school they need three hundred and fifty, and they agreed. So the land was transferred to San Pedro High, and I was able to get the three hundred and fifty thousand dollars to have them agree, and the transaction was done between Grand Belize and San Pedro Junior College, or San Pedro High because the land is vested under San Pedro High. They did all the transaction. All that government did was to facilitate the transfer of land from San Pedro High School to Grand Belizean Estate and the money was paid to San Pedro High School, not to Manuel Heredia, not to G.O.B. but directly to San Pedro High School.”
…Area Representative Manuel Heredia Explains His Involvement
Heredia Junior insists that his participation was only minimal – just facilitation. He also maintains that Grand Belizean Estates paid far more than what was paid for similar fifty-acre parcels. Still News Five has managed to get hold of a reference to a Lands’ assessment which claims that at the time the land was transferred to Grand Belizean Estates; two hundred and two parcels on that large plot of land were being sold for twenty-thousand dollars each. That’s more than four million dollars. In fact, it is known that similar parcels in that area were being sold for thirty-five thousand dollars each. So essentially Grand Belizean Estates got hold of land officially valued at more than seven million dollars, and all it cost them was a school building valued at three hundred thousand dollars. Heredia Junior maintains that the company paid a lot to reclaim the land, and also claims that the reason it is coming up right now is political mischief.
On the Phone: Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism
“I just tried to facilitate, but Grand Belizean Estate not long ago…and I doubt that they have sold this land yet…Grand Belizean reclaimed…spent a few million dollars to reclaim part of that land and they have not even finalized, because I go regularly to the Grand Belizean Estate. There is a nice beach where locals and tourists go every day. This land is not by the beach but further up, a low-land that was sold to them. They are reclaiming that land. If a piece of land is worth a thousand dollars probably it would cost you sometimes four thousand or six thousand to reclaim it. It would cost you three, four, five times the original cost of the lot. But whatever the case, Grand Belizean Estate, after you sell them the land…it is not my business what they will do with that. They are supposed to be lucky. That can be checked with the Lands Department how much he paid for the other two parcels and how much was paid for this one…much more than he paid for those two. But the reclamation…man, that cost four, five, six times more than the value of the land. What I believe is happening over here is because election is around…they know that this particular area rep is so popular in San Pedro that they want to undermine me.”
The real problem was GBE is not in any way a developer project. They were land speculaters. Yes, they came in and laid out tracts. They graded a road to the property and put in some road base. They even put up about a dozen poles to make it look like power was on the way. There it all ends. I remember them saying that power will come soon. That was about four years ago. Is there power. NO. I'm sure one day power will come, but GBE has no plans to pay for it. The just sell property.`
I think it is gone now but for years there also was large pipe along side the road on near Secret Beach. They use to bring prospective buyers in that way. I guess that was to show them water and sewer were on the way? Water, sewer, and electricity, well I probably will not see that in my life time.
I've been up there in the rainy season and water across some of the side roads was 3 or 4" deep. Not to mention that many lots where underwater. Many more had a water table 6" or less below the surface. It is a shame to see so many dreams based on a project that may never come to be and has so many problems with the basics.
Now the homes and some of the lots on or near the ocean that they speak of are another matter and it is quite nice there but a little too isolated for me and with no utilities of course.
Jim Somewhere on a beach in Belize
I think the best thing would be that all people that own property in GBE start a informal HOA group. List there names, lot numbers, etc. Someone could make a list of them if they like. Then if they want power to their property and be willing to sign a paper to show the power company their intent is to to build,then things might happen. Heck, if they put up $100 bond per property the Belize power company will start work.
I spent a lot of time back there before it was destroyed, it was a treasure. For me the tragedy was the destruction of the mangroves but that is done and the rich littoral forest is lost forever. http://matalagoon.blogspot.com/