‘Historic’ housing to be preserved
“Historic” Dockyard housing will not be demolished, after a $36 million plan to replace it was abruptly scaled back by $11 million.
Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz yesterday announced that a 2010 West End Development Corporation project to build 100 new homes at the West End would be reduced substantially, also preserving the ageing residences of Victoria and Albert rows.
“The project has been modified from its original scope and will now retain the historic Victoria and Albert Row buildings, while also meeting the Government’s mandate of reducing Government spending,” said Mr Moniz.
The housing project, put in place under the former Progressive Labour Party, has been hotly contended over the past two years.
“While we were members of the Opposition, we had vigorously campaigned against the housing project, because we believed there was little justification for an additional 100 new housing units to be introduced to a market which already had a surplus of empty apartments,” Mr Moniz continued.
“However, taking into consideration that the project was already well advanced — with significant costs and commitments already authorised — the Ministry of Public Works has made the decision to immediately stop further production of any new units.”
The manufacturer has completed 32 prefabricated units, he said, which will translate into 16 apartments or four new structures, to be erected on the Sandys property near the front of the Albert Row buildings.
Tenants will be relocated between the 16 new units as well as other Wedco accommodations, he said.
“Although there is no currently defined plan or timeline, it is our intention to restore both Albert and Victoria Row properties in due course,” Mr Moniz added.
The homes were originally built for Dockyard workers.
Meanwhile, the first barge of infrastructural materials for the project arrived at the Island on January 6. The second is anticipated in mid to late February, the Minister said, and the first home should be erected in April or May.
Road works are expected to be complete before the cruise ship season starts in April. Infrastructural trenching began this week, he said.
The US company supplying the units is “on board” with the scaled back plans, which had originally been for 100 new housing units.
Mr Moniz said the Island will end up with parts for more units than are currently intended for construction. They will be stored, he said, and other uses will be found for them.
“As a Government, I just wanted to say that we have listened to the people of Bermuda in taking this decision which now ensures two significant historical sites will be preserved,” Mr Moniz said.
He said the decision provided “the best solution under the present circumstances, while also meeting many objectives of key stakeholders”.