Developer eyes commercial complex in Stabroek
Says city could earn $1B in revenue

By Desiree Jodah
Stabroek News
January 21, 2001

Umana Developments is fast-tracking the first stage of its ambitious mixed commercial development project dubbed 'Stabroek Square,' which would result in the construction of two floors of a proposed six-storey complex.

According to a spokesperson for the company, who wished not be named, if the project was approved, Guyanese could be shopping at a state-of-the-art complex as early as Christmas.

The project was examined by the Mayor and City Council at the last statutory meeting. The heads of departments and committees met and made a number of observations and recommendations. It was recommended that the proposal from Umana Developments be addressed in the main development of Stabroek Square; that the proposal emphasise an agreement be entered into with the City Council pertaining to the utilisation of the Stabroek Market, Stelling View, Bazaar and wharves in the proposed area; that the market being the most profitable market be kept and that in the event the council decides to divest the market or markets, council should invite bids from prospective investors under specific guidance.

Discussions were also held with central government, the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Georgetown Sewerage and Water Commissioners.

According to the Umana Developments spokesman, approximately US$5 million has been committed for the first stage of the project. He said that he was optimistic that approval for this stage would be granted and the company would commence work. The spokesman said that it was hoped that work on the two-storey building would start within two months and be completed in time to be opened for the Christmas season.

If given the green light, the two-level shopping area would be constructed where the old customs bond, stelling view market, the Guyana National Cooperative Bank car park and the Ministry of Social Services are located.

He noted that this phase would create minimum inconvenience to the ministry and the GNCB. And both of these entities could be accommodated in the new facility.

A number of stores would be housed on the perimeter of the main floor with a vendors' bazaar and an atrium, a fountain, modern washroom facilities, escalators and elevators. A swimming pool and lounging area would also be accommodated on this floor.

The second level would boost similar facilities, but with a balcony instead of a pool, where several food stores would be located. If the project was approved, the developer said, the architectural integrity of the city would be maintained. The company, with the agreement of the city, would beautify the city boulevards, avenues, sidewalks among others; install slabs over trenches and drains to create additional roadways and parking to ease traffic congestion. Prospective trenches include those on North Road, Avenue of the Republic and Church Street.

City Hall is expected to earn as much as $1 billion in revenue from `Stabroek Square.'

The company is hoping to enter into long-term lease arrangements with both the City Council and central government. The spokesman also saw the new facilities solving the current vendor problem. He said that the two-level shopping area could accommodate approximately 2,000 vendors. He said the project would modernise and transform Georgetown into a globally competitive business centre.

Meanwhile, the overall project is expected to house department stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, discos, pubs, recreational facilities, residential facilities, institutions such as schools, day-care centres, computer cafes, a senior retirement home, a state-of-the-art medical centre, a police outpost and mini fire station, hotel accommodation, parking facilities, water activities, a ferry service and offices. The proposed six-storey complex would also include a six-level parking facility.

The spokesperson told Stabroek News that the proposed 761,280 sq ft plan spans the area from the Guyana Sawmill Ltd at the corner of Water Street all the way to the area known as the Vendor's Arcade and Bugle Street to Avenue of the Republic. This area includes several business places such as Royal Castle and Banks DIH as well as St Andrew's Kirk and school and the municipal car park.

Negotiations, according to the spokesperson, were had with owners and operators of these business places. He said that there would be further discussions.

The developer, according to the spokesman, would be solely responsible for the financing of the project and is currently negotiating with overseas-based financial institutions and private individuals and companies to commit a cumulative sum of US$150 million.

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