2011-Present New Partnerships
In 2011 WIHCON entered into partnership with Alf Investments. The company brought large tracts of land to the partnership and WIHCON brought their long history of excellence and expertise.
The partnership opened new opportunities for WIHCON. These included Meadows of Irwin in Montego Bay, the company’s second development project built in that city and a high-end townhouse complex, Somerset Homes, built just off Graham Heights. The latest community built by WIHCON is Jacaranda Homes located at Innswood in St. Catherine.
In 2005 WIHCON branched even further afield with Rosevale Estates, a community of 494 two (2) bedroom homes built on the Western side of Montego Bay. Nestled in the cool hills above Rosehall this community introduced he now well known Hampton house design to Western Jamaica with great success.
In 2007 WIHCON returned to Portmore with the elegantly designed community of Portmore Country Club. This development was the first gated community built by the company and it was in response to customer demands for greater security in their developments and homes with more detailed finishes. Portmore Country Club was constructed at the old casting yard used in the development of the Greater Portmore Community.
The company introduced another new design with the 2 bedroom Tropicana townhouse constructed using prefabricated panels and built with the proprietary WIHCON Building System. This community boasts extensive landscaping, a community centre and playing field along with a newer version of the 2 bedroom house, but with in indoor laundry and thus renamed as the Windsor. Large ceramic floor tiles and crown mouldings were introduced in these homes responding to the customers demands for homes with better finishes.
Presidential Estates saw the company return to Old Harbour with the introduction of a gated community adjacent to The Aviary. These homes were similar to The Aviary but the attraction of the walled community appealed to buyers seeking to secure their safety at home.
The designated location for a shopping center at Mona Heights was never developed due to little or no demand for shops on that side of the community. It sat idle until 2011 when WIHCON designed the townhouse community of Sunflower Manor and an adjacent apartment complex with sixty-seven (67) apartments. Both developments were a great success and introduced the granite counter tops into WIHCON homes. These communities enhanced the reputation of the company as competent to build good quality homes that appealed to customers looking for units other than entry level basic homes.
No Longer Sector Leaders 2002-2003
The challenge of finding tracts of land suitable to build large developments has continued and as a result WIHCON introduced a new building system that has been employed successfully in smaller developments. The Hampton house, built using an insitu form was introduced at Eltham Vista where 55 of these homes were constructed.
The success of the design led to the development of The Aviary in Old Harbour. When construction of Highway 2000 opened the access to the town of Old Harbour as the next housing community. WIHCON was the first company to acknowledge the highway’s significance and introduced the community of the Aviary which afforded new homebuyers a less expensive option to similar homes in Kingston making the location very attractive. The Aviary was the first WIHCON Development built entirely without the use of the WIHCON System, but instead used the Cast in Place (CIP) building system introduced at Eltham Vista.
High Point 1991-2001
In 1991 ground was broken for the most ambitious project ever undertaken by WIHCON and what proved to be the largest housing development ever built in the Caribbean. Greater Portmore was designed as a community of 10,000 homes built on marginal land at Naggo Head in St. Catherine. The venture was conceptualized by the Matalons and was made possible by tapping into funds in the San Jose Accord established by the governments of Mexico and Venezuela from the purchase of oil by Jamaica from these two countries.
The Accord agreed to 20% of the overall value of Jamaica’s oil purchase to be used for low-interest development loans. The fund sat unused from 1980 until the Greater Portmore Project. Mayer Matalon took the concept of the project to the Presidents of both countries who endorsed the use of the funds for the development.
The success of the Greater Portmore development encouraged new players to enter the housing market. A number of little-known, as well as new companies, became direct competition for WIHCON by introducing, ceramic tiles, shower stalls, wooden kitchen cabinets, granite counter tops and other finishes associated with more expensive homes along with new appealing designs of 2-bed room houses.
Middle years 1969-1990
One of the challenges facing potential purchasers has always been the access to reasonable mortgage rates. Mayer Matalon, the financial wizard, conceptualised the creation of a government mortgage entity funded by both employees and employers. Employees contributed 2% of their wages while employers paid 3% of the employee’s wages into the fund. Created in 1976, the National Housing Trust lends money to qualified employed persons at rates well below the average mortgage rates of other established mortgage institutions. While the NHT was established to help the citizens of Jamaica achieve home ownership it also created a pool of potential customers for WIHCON.
Today the NHT is widely recognized as the leading mortgage provider in the country as it has evolved from providing mortgage financing for specific low-income developments through a variety of methods to now offering all qualified borrowers their entitlement for whichever housing purchase they choose.
For many years WIHCON remained the dominant force in the low-income housing market building strong basic houses with little aesthetic appeal. The company saw as its mission the provision of every working Jamaican with the opportunity to own a home, and additional aesthetic finishes increase the cost of the house, depriving those at the lowest end of the market with the option of home ownership.
WIHCON History Formative Years 1958-1963
The successful entrepreneurial Matalon Family entered the mass housing market in Jamaica in the 1950s. At this time the average house cost approximately £1000 to construct, and most Jamaicans did not have the required funds to purchase the land and build a house. There was a demand for housing, particularly in the growing capital of Kingston and the Matalons who had a keen eye for spotting opportunities came up with innovative solutions to take advantage by providing a solution for the housing demand.
The demand for housing in the post-war United States saw the rise of ‘turn-key’ developments where all the complexities of building and buying a house were managed by the developer and all the customer had to do was to take possession once the process was completed. The Levitt building concept was innovative and highly successful in that country.
The Matalons conceived of bringing a similar process to Jamaica and Owen Matalon went to Puerto Rico where the Fullana brothers had access to an in-situ form system that allowed for the pouring of a complete house on the lot. They agreed to partner to provide housing solutions to Jamaica and thus WIHCON was born.
After negotiations with the Government of Jamaica, the Matalons were offered land at Mona. The resourceful Matalons used their individual skills to bring the project together. Mayer Matalon who was the financial genius of the family successfully negotiated financing with a mutual society and Aaron who had an innate skill at marketing set up the sales and advertising for the project. Moses the engineer was involved in the planning and Owen ran the field operations. He had a knack for problem-solving and became largely responsible for the creation of what would evolve as the proprietary WIHCON Building System.
Mona Heights had limited financial success but it broke new ground in the housing market in the country. The Fullana’s building system had limitations. Production was low and there was a short supply of skilled labour that this system required. The partnership was dissolved at the end of Mona Heights as the Fullanas wished to pursue developments outside of Jamaica and the Matalons were passionate about this country and helping to build the nation.
Owen was confident that house production could be done faster and more economically, and he sought to find a new building system with more rapid production rates and the use of low or non-skilled labour. He identified and brought to Jamaica a building system that over time and modifications became the WIHCON System.
With the new building system, Mayer and Owen began the planning of a new housing development at Harbour View as this was the parcel of land that the Government awarded them out of six parcels they put up for tender. Harbour View was the most difficult to development and when the then Premier Norman Manley was asked why the Matalons were awarded the worst piece of land, his comment was that the Matalons were the only ones who could handle the 1800 house project proposed at Harbour View.
The company developed a proprietary prefabricated building system unique to Jamaica and other developing countries, with rates of production equivalent to those in developed nations. The real measure of the system was tested at Greater Portmore where 75 houses per week could be built when the system was in full production.
The challenge for WIHCON was finding large enough tracts of land where developments of over 500 houses could be built as the infrastructure and equipment that the WIHCON System employed necessitated the construction of a large number of units to make it economical to build.
Hughenden was nearing completion when Construction & Dredging, another subsidiary of the ICD Group was awarded the contract to dredge along Foreshore Road and allow the construction of a deepwater port, eliminating the finger piers of downtown Kingston and establishing Newport East and West. Moses envisioned that if there was a road link to the swamplands of Portmore he could reclaim them and construct much needed houses for the population of Kingston. The rest of his brothers told him he was mad when he proposed the concept, but true to form they embraced the innovation and set to work.
The access to Portmore and the subsequent development of over 25,000 houses in that community speaks for itself and has provided thousands of Jamaicans with homes since the first development of Independence City was built in 1962.