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$900m upgrade for Centre City Mall
Chaguanas will undergo a major transformation with a planned $900 million investment in the upgrade of the Centre City Mall, which is located in the heart of the borough’s busy shopping area. Dr Anthony Fifi, a land developer and consultant with George Aboud & Sons Limited (GASL), unveiled the project during a Planning Ministry consultation, Strategy for the 4Cs Growth Pole, at the Couva/Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce conference hall in Camden, Couva, yesterday.
The 4Cs growth pole is a strategic plan for development of four districts in central Trinidad—Couva, Chaguanas, Carapichaima and Charlieville. Fifi said GASL plans to develop the existing Centre City Mall into the most modern shopping centre in T&T. He said the existing mall is “quite small” and “will be expanded to about ten times its size,” covering 17 acres of land stretching from Mulchan Seuchan Road to east of the Uriah Butler Highway.
From drawings presented yesterday, the mall will take shoppers on a walk from the Chaguanas Main Road, where it currently starts, over the Mulchan Seuchan Road and to the eastern wing running north-south along the Uriah Butler Highway. “The construction cost will be $900 million and will transform the entire centre of Chaguanas. It will create Chaguanas’ main street as one of the nation’s foremost shopping streets,” Fifi said.
“GASL has already invested $350 million in land acquisition. The project is fully designed and quite ready to go. We are in the process of finalising with a main contractor to start work at the end of this dry season.” Yesterday, Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodan told the T&T Guardian that he welcomed the project, which, he said, forms part of a larger development plan for Chaguanas as a growth pole for the country. He said the entire development project, when completed, is expected to cost $1.1 billion overall.
Home for 300 businesses
Fifi said the upgraded mall, which will house 300 businesses and a civic car park, will provide 2,000 temporary jobs in the construction phase and more than 1,000 permanent jobs when it opens in 2016. “The tax contributions from this establishment will be quite enormous,” he added. Fifi warned, however, that the multi-million construction project could be “seriously compromised and set back” if certain areas of concerns are not addressed, including traffic congestion and illegal vending in Chaguanas.
He also highlighted lack of proper planning, an antiquated planning and approval process, lack of proper control-rules and regulations, criminal activities and lack of respect for law and order. “Unless some of these factors are sorted out, in particular the traffic congestion and vending, we would probably be shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said. Planning Minister Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie assured that those areas of concern will be reviewed by the Chaguanas mayor.
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