August 28, 2015
Redevelopment of burnt out site to be undertaken in four phases – Gonsalves

The redevelopment of the site of the government buildings that were gutted by fire last Sunday will be undertaken in four phases.

During an address to Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the Ministry of Works is presently preparing conceptual architectural designs for the development of the block, which includes the British American Insurance Company (BAICO) construction site.{{more}}

He said the redevelopment of the site provides opportunities for the reduction in rental space required for several government ministries and departments and the provision of additional space for parking and the provision of an alternative route out of Kingstown.

The Prime Minister, who is also Minister of finance and Minister of Works, said the capital estimates for 2015 includes a project specifically for those buildings that were destroyed by the fire and also for acquiring the BAICO building, which is in the vicinity.

“Up to the time of the fire, the Ministry of Works had been given the mandate to prepare architectural drawings for that whole area. Clearly, there now needs to be expedition in that,” the Prime Minister said.

Gonsalves said $7 million has been allocated in the Estimates for, among other things, the purchase of the BAICO property and the commencement of construction of two buildings.

“Clearly, those plans have to be revised as a result of the fire, but basically to keep in sync of what was the development plan for the area.”

The project will be done in four phases, beginning with the demolition of the structures. Gonsalves said the old bricks from the Ministry of National Mobilization building will be stockpiled, so that they can be reused in the architectural design and construction.

He outlined the budget for the demolition and the restoration of the offices of the Audit Department, the rehabilitation of the Inland Revenue building and restoration of some of the offices of the Audit Department in the old NCB building at $1.2 million.

Phase two of the project will see the reconstruction of the three storey building on the footprint of the old Treasury building to accommodate the Treasury on the ground floor, the Audit Department on the first floor and Social Welfare Department on the top floor.

The Prime Minister said the building will accommodate the best architectural features of the existing building, while creating a modern ‘green’ building.

Phase three involves the acquisition and construction of the BAICO building, in accordance with the original approved designs. That building, Gonsalves said, is proposed to house the Ministry of Education and other offices, including some space provided for the Inland Revenue Department.

The final phase will deal with the Government Printery and Ministry of National Mobilization. Gonsalves said while not finalized, the idea is to construct a building in that area, along with a car park.

“We have a problem with space in the city and the chief engineer and the office of the chief surveyor are looking at alternative points of entry into that back area.”