The government has begun steps to issue Ann Joshua a new five-year lease of the state-owned historic building in which the iconic hotel in Kingstown has been operating for over three decades.
On July 9, a lawyer for National Properties Ltd., the state-owned firm responsible for management of the building, wrote to Joshua giving her until Sept. 30 to leave the premises.
The letter gave no reasons for the decision.
However, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is Joshua’s first cousin and has ministerial responsibilities for National Properties, later said separately that it was in the interest of transparency.
Gonsalves claimed that Joshua had been granted the lease without an open and transparent bidding process.
Observers have said this is not the case, although Gonsalves said then Prime Minister, James Mitchell, had decided to which of the two entities that had bid for occupancy that the lease was to be awarded
Cobblestone Inn was on Saturday still operating in the building and iWitness News understands that Joshua has signed a five-year lease in which she would continue to pay EC$24,000 a month in rent.
iWitness News understands that the signatures of two other agents of the government are needed before the lease become legally binding.
Cobblestone Inn has been operating at the venue on a month-to-month rental basis after its last lease expired a few years ago.
Joshua had earlier asked National Properties to reduce the lease, citing operation cost and low occupancy — amidst decreasing tourist arrivals to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Gonsalves said on radio on Friday that he knows there were negotiations between National Properties and “my dear friend and cousin Ann Joshua”.
He, however, said the chief executive officer of National Properties had not informed him about the outcome of the discussions.