Blue Mall opening postponed

POSTED: 02/15/12 1:39 PM

CUPECOY, St. Maarten – The Blue Mall has postponed its official opening until an unspecified later date, because the work that needs to be done is still not finished yet. General manager Omar Becerra told this newspaper yesterday that the Blue Mall will open in stages.

“We will first open the first levels, but they are not ready yet.”

The huge shopping mall currently has contracts with around fifty tenants, Becerra said.

Some time ago the Blue Mall announced the complex’s official opening for February 17 – this coming Friday.

The postponement is the umpteenth setback for the $60 million project. When then Labor Commissioner Hyacinth Richardson toured the complex almost three years ago on July 24, 2009 developer Luis Gioia talked about some minor delays, saying that the mall would be completed by December of that year. The project was scheduled to be fully operational by June 2010 and the “grand opening” was on the books for the following December.

But things did not go according to plan. The developer got caught up in court cases with the former head of Vrom, Delano Richardson, who was sentenced for an attempt to squeeze a bribe out of the developer. In court, Gioia said that he had already paid $1 million for the building permit. Later it turned out that this was a commitment to build a proper road buy valium diazepam online from the complex towards the Atlantis Casino in Cupecoy.

The developer said at the time that the Blue Mall will provide 500 jobs. Commissioner Hyacinth Richardson then made a controversial remark, after stressing the importance of employment for locals.

“Bringing in foreign employment will get government support.”

Restricting the postponed opening to the first three floors means that the Blue Mall has shelved its plans for the top floor for the time being. This floor has been labeled Piso 5 and designed as the mall’s culinary and entertainment center.

On its website, the Blue Mall indicates that the main level has been designed to allow for the free flow of shoppers; it will become a huge lobby of sorts. The mezzanine level will feature services, small fashion boutiques and offices. The third level is for fashion, electronics and home decorating shops.

Floor four and five will not open for the time being. On four, the Blue Mall projects banks, a large food court, and general services like hair dressers.

In spite of the relentless delays, the company that markets the project, Fondo de Valores Inmobiliarios (FVI), the second largest shopping center operator in Venezuela and the largest in the Caribbean remains optimistic, as it states on its website: “Located in the heart of St. Maarten’s wealthiest community, the Blue Mall is an experience whose time has come.”

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