St. Maarten Government seeks developer to complete administration building

POSTED: 04/11/13 3:08 PM

Honorable Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-WilliamsSt. Maarten – Prime Minister with responsibility for General Affairs Sarah Wescot-Williams returned to Parliament yesterday after coming under heavy criticism for the delay in occupation of the new government administration building located on Pond Island.

The government has not been able to source capital financing to complete the works as yet, the prime minister said. It is still seeking a developer to complete the building that was constructed in 2008 and has not seen any occupation of personnel since then. A Terms of Reference is currently being prepared.

“The financing component should entail the buyout of the current developer, RGM, the completion of the building with infrastructure and possibility the realization of the parking garage and Block D.”

As far as the building construction is concerned, the cost is 29 million guilders, the preparation is 100 percent completed and the execution about 98 percent completed.

The tenants’ improvements which formed part of the development agreement cost 5.8 million guilders.  This is currently at 98 percent completion, the Prime Minister said.

In terms of interior partitions, 4.8 million guilders was required and the partitions have been 75 percent executed, Parliament was told.

Betonbouw Caribbean Construction, Windward Electrical Company (WEC) and Penguin Air-conditioning were awarded the contract to complete the partition walls based strict fire safety regulations. At present those works are progressing and the completion of the work is expected by June, the prime minister said.

Due to the lack of financing the surrounding of the building needed significant cleanup which was recently executed. The terrain around the building was also leveled with sand in preparation for infrastructural works around the building.

Infrastructural design plans are now completed and are slated for execution as soon as the financing is secured for it, the prime minister reported.  The prime minister said that as a result of the evolution of government since 10.10.10, the interior partitioning from 2008 can no longer applied. Therefore the architect firm IMD initially commissioned to design the interior layout of the building was asked to reassess the layout of the building.

Areas of priority include fixed furnishings, technical installation, IT infrastructure, furniture and work stations of employees with the total projected costs for these works set at 18 million guilders.

The government also wants to construct a multi-level parking garage and an adjacent building known as Block D that will house the Ministry of Finance and the Tax Authority.

The design and detailing for Block D is completed, the prime minister added, and the government is now seeking financing for this project.

Additional works to the tune of 1.5 million guilders, infrastructure and service building at 3.9 million guilders, the interior furnishings at 7. 3 million guilders, ICT and technical installation at 2.6 million guilders, ICT server and office apparatus at 2.7 million guilders and the setup of the Public Service Centre 1.6 million guilders.

For the construction of Building D, the total amount of money that would be required has not yet been calculated, the prime minister said but preparations are 90 percent completed. Meanwhile preparations for the parking are 5 percent completed but the total projected cost is still to be determined.

There has no need development contract and the matter of the lease agreement was the basis of a very drawn out court proceedings where the developer because of a difference of opinion on the interpretation of the lease agreement, the prime minister said.

She indicated that RGM requested additional land in long lease and also that the government take responsibility for the insurance and maintenance of the building but the government prevailed in court. RGM is currently pursuing an appeal of the court verdict.

Most of the questions posed to the prime minister were from United People’s Party Member of Parliament drs. Gracita Arrindell. On Tuesday, Arrindell decried the fact that government was paying 865, 180.00 guilders for the monthly rental of the government building.

“People pay rent for 64 buildings, the two largest being the government administration building the parliament building. When will the building be ready for occupation, a clear straightforward answer is needed,” Arrindell said.

On Wednesday, the MP said that even with the prime minister’s answers, several questions were still evaded.

For now, employees of Betonbouw Construction, WEC and Penguin, are in the new administration building daily to execute the installation of the partition walls.

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