Treading Lightly – YardEdge Talks To Giuliano Pignataro About Green Construction In Jamaica

Treading Lightly Developments - Family Plan Rendering
Treading Lightly Developments - Family Plan Rendering

On a recent visit to Jamaica’s south coast I sat down with Giuliano Pignataro to talk to him about his company, Treading Lightly Developments, and his “green construction” project in Treasure Beach.

Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth
Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth

YardEdge: So what is Treading Lightly Developments (TLD) all about?

Giuliano: We are trying to set an example of building in a responsible way. We want TLD to be known as a reputable builder of high quality and well designed homes that take a practical approach to green construction and use of alternative energy.

YardEdge: Describe your vision? What are you trying to create?

Giuliano: When you come to Treasure Beach you spend time on the road. You don’t end up in some capture. You get coffee from a local woman roasting beans herself, you get your jerk from a little stand where you sit and reason with the woman that owns the shop next door as you stare over her son’s farm at the beautiful view of the Santa Cruz Mountains in the distance.

You walk to the beach and along the beach for miles – not just back and forth between two walls and jetties. We would like to build homes that embrace those qualities and exist within this community, culture, economy, etc. We have tried to do that by choosing our location with pond and mountain views just a short walk from the beach, working with Ann Hodges to help us design homes that use traditional Jamaican architectural vernacular, the use of local labor, and the use of as many local materials as is practical.

YardEdge: Why did you decide to start this?

Giuliano: There are quite a few pieces of land and lots for sale in Treasure Beach. We see Treasure Beach as the final frontier in terms of development in Jamaica. We would like to take advantage of that and learn lessons from the rest of the island for how development shouldn’t be done.

YardEdge: Are there others behind the business?

Giuliano: It’s just Jason Henzell and myself. I do have to give a shout out to Liz Solms- my wife. I couldn’t, wouldn’t do it without her to back me up and keep me on track.

YardEdge: Tell us where you are so far?

Giuliano: So far we have an inventory of two lots in the Old Wharf section of Treasure Beach with the option of expanding in that immediate area. The lots have been bushed and we have begun landscaping.

We have two different models of homes planned that have been designed with Ann Hodges of Kingston 10 Architects. See the Treading Lightly Developments facebook page. We are currently working to finalize pricing and specifications.

YardEdge: Can you describe your offerings for us.

Giuliano: What we have are two models that we are calling the Resort Villa and Family Villa (again please consult our facebook page to see the floor plans). The lot location is just a short walk to the secluded swimming coves in Old Wharf.

Resort Villa – This 2 Bedroom, 2.5 Bathroom home will be the more expensive of the two models and is the home that is appropriate for someone that wants to use this home as an investment as well as a vacation home. In addition to a large open floor plan with a kitchen that you can eat or entertain in this home features two master suites with in suite bathrooms, sitting areas and connected private verandas. There is also a study/den which is large enough to double as a third bedroom for those that need it. The veranda on the front of the home is large enough for a living room set and dining room set on the other for those who- like me- want to spend as much of their time outside as possible.

Family Villa – This will be the more versatile of the two models and is probably better suited for someone that is going to spend more time in TB than the traditional vacationer. The base model will be a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom but will be easily expandable into a 3 or 4 bedroom by adding an additional story. Much more traditional in its layout this floor plan features a Master Bath with an in suite bathroom as well and wrap around verandas that you will surely live on.

We are partnering with Jake’s Villas for property management services. This will be separate from the home purchase but, through Jake’s Villas a home owner, will be able to arrange to have any range of property management services from once a month housekeeping to fully serviced, staffed and marketed resort villas.

YardEdge: Tell us a little about yourself? How did you end up doing this in Jamaica?

Giuliano: After finishing college I went to work for a large home builder in the US. There I worked my way from the corporate office up to being responsible for two 30-story high rise condominium buildings on the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn. When I got married and moved back to Philadelphia (where my family is based) I became Director of Construction and Development for a property management firm whose portfolio consisted of 2000 residential apartment units mostly in Pennsylvania.

My wife Liz has been working in sustainable agriculture in Jamaica for years and we have maintained a residence here for that time. We’ve love our time Treasure Beach so; in lieu of a honeymoon we decided to move permanently to TB.

YardEdge: Do you enjoy living and working in Treasure Beach?

Yes very much. It’s a great community with great people. After spending my life living and working in the centers of Philadelphia and Brooklyn I wasn’t sure how I would adjust to life in rural Jamaica. I find it suits me just fine.

YardEdge: What’s the best and worst thing about living in Treasure Beach?

Giuliano: Best- the obvious choice is the weather. Especially during the holiday season. Since Dec. 15th it has been perfect weather here, though the locals will complain it has been too cold at night. The other things that I love are, walking my dogs first thing in the morning on Old Wharf beach, Bloody Mary’s at Dougie’s bar on Sundays, Dawn’s fresh roasted coffee at Smurf’s Cafe (formerly Trans-love), Escovitch Fish at Jack Sprat, and the general calm and quite of this raw and vibesy area of Jamaica.

Worst- if I were to have to pick something it would be the mosquitoes- but don’t worry we are putting screens on the windows of the houses.

YardEdge: Are you happy with the level of response/success you’re getting?

I am very encouraged by the level of response we are getting. Everyone we talk to loves the fact that we are using a traditional Jamaican vernacular for the design, that we have used Ann Hodges, and are building green.

YardEdge: What kind of marketing have you been doing? What has worked? Not worked?

Giuliano: As we don’t have pricing yet, we haven’t started with a full fledged marketing campaign. We have a teaser flyer which guests at Jakes, Jack Sprat or Breds receive. We have sponsored some local events and appeared in Kuya magazine. Other than that we have maintained a presence on Facebook and have communicated with our interest list via seasonal e-mailings.

Sandy Tatham has opened up a Treasure Beach office for Coldwell Banker. We have signed a broker agreement with them and coming this month, once our pricing is finalized, they will work with us on a traditional media marketing campaign as well as the online and social messaging that we are utilizing ourselves.

YardEdge: What have been your biggest challenges?

We started trying to do a subdivision but found, through preliminary due diligence, that the approval process was going to be time and cost prohibitive. After the first 5 months we basically had to scrap our plans and start from scratch. The bureaucracy ended up being a blessing in disguise. We found a land owner willing to sell us some lots that are already improved (the roads and utilities are already installed). That is the greener thing to do anyway- when you can you should always utilize what already exists rather than building new.

YardEdge: Biggest rewards?

Giuliano: Not ready to say…get back to me once we have a deposit and have a house coming out of the ground.

YardEdge:  Final thoughts?

Giuliano: Its time for an ice cold Guinness.

TLD - Resort Villa Rendering
Treading Lightly Developments - Resort Villa Rendering

For more information, contact Giuliano Pignataro at Treading Lightly Developments Ltd.

+1-876.298.5802 (JA)
+1-267.702.6467 (US)
Skype: Giuliano Pignataro
Email: giuliano.pignataro@gmail.com
Website treadinglightlyja.tumblr.com

You can contact Sandy Tatham via Coldwell Banker Jamaica Realty

Shop #3, Kingfisher Plaza, Treasure Beach
St Elizabeth, Jamaica
Email: sandy@cbjamaica.com

Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth


Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth

Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth

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  1. June 1, 2014 at 12:36 am — Reply

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    You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.

  2. March 23, 2014 at 4:12 am — Reply

    I am in fact thankful to the owner of this web site
    who has shared this enormous article at here.

  3. […] News: Letter from the Caribbean | home sweet home, again | shop @ Andrew Maynard Architects | treading lightly – Jamaica | an essay on the ridiculous way architects talk | the architect’s head | A […]

  4. February 14, 2011 at 11:20 am — Reply

    To Janet B:

    We are announcing pricing this week. The homes are starting from US$292,775. If you would like more info please shoot me an e-mail or, by all means, come down to Treasure Beach and see us. We are going to build these homes semi-custom so we will not start construction until we have a buyer.

    To Anonymous on Feb 14th:
    I totally agree. We are starting with the design focused on air flow and ventilation but our plans will evolve with the influx of more and more green materials to the island and our buyers tastes.
    For starters, the base price includes solar energy (with an inverter and battery bank built for ease of expansion over time) and rain water harvesting.
    We will be using no VOC (no odor) paint for the majority of the home. We plan to work with the buyer and the Parrish council to take the use of grey water as far as possible. I could go on, but it might get boring. If you have any sugesstions or know of anything on the island that I have not mentioned, please, e-mail. I’d love any input I can get.

    Thank you all for the interest and I hope to see you in Treasure Beach soon – G

  5. Anonymous
    February 14, 2011 at 10:35 am — Reply

    Did not particularly hear what was “green” about the construction. Yes the drawings look like little “Ye olde” Jamaican houses but that is/ was not enough

  6. Karin
    February 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm — Reply

    Will do! Will follow up with them…

  7. Janet B.
    February 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm — Reply

    Most interesting; I like the designs & idea of constructing as ‘green’ as possible. Please do a follow up report on this project. Would love to hear how they’re progressing & most importantly, the house prices.

  8. […] News: Letter from the Caribbean | home sweet home, again | shop @ Andrew Maynard Architects | treading lightly – Jamaica | an essay on the ridiculous way architects talk | the architect’s head | A […]

  9. January 18, 2011 at 10:41 am — Reply

    That’s how I like to travel… Living the local, rural life as much as possible.

  10. January 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm — Reply

    good to hear more about TL plans and some ecologically responsible development options for the south coast… and Jamaica.

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