Barbados’ coveted inscription of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has turned out to be a significant financial and planning headache for one of the island’s credit unions.
For more than eight years The Light & Power Employees Cooperative Credit Union Limited has been mulling over what to do with the Horseshoe Manor building it owns at The Garrison, St. Michael.
But with the property, which is in need of repair, included in the “statutory list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest”, the cooperative will likely have to end up spending more funds than the previously projected $1.5 million to $2 million to refurbish it.
Barbados TODAY understands the credit union’s management and members are concerned that the “deteriorated” state of the building reflects negatively on the organisation’s image.
The cooperative cannot demolish the building because it is in the historic area and protected by the Barbados National Trust, and the Chief Town Planner has already indicated that the it would have to be sold or restored as close to its original state as possible.
Reporting to the organisation’s near 1,700 members prior to its recent 30th annual general meeting, President Kelvin Whittaker said the board of directors “has commissioned an architect to assist us with the restoration and refurbishment of Horseshoe Manor”, which was once used for various things, including housing, a gym and taxi office but is now unoccupied,
“This project has been in limbo for many years. It is hoped that you will give this project your full support,” he said. And while Treasurer Stephen Daniel noted that “the decision to evict all tenants from the Horseshoe Manor property resulted in a reduction of rental income”, Supervisory Committee Chairman Wilfred Clarke saw the need for a resolution to the issue since the matter was ongoing for several years.
“The committee is aware that some progress has been made in relation to the Horseshoe Manor building project. However, it is still awaiting a clear and definitive plan for this project, as this has been ongoing for over eight years,” Clarke stated.
“That apart, the committee is satisfied that our credit union is being soundly managed and that the management is executing its responsibilities with prudence.”
The state of and plans for Horseshoe Manor have come up consistently whenever the credit union holds an AGM, with members repeatedly querying its status.
At last year’s AGM, management informed members that renovation plans were being thought through, but also pointed out that “the original structure and design must be maintained as advised by the Barbados National Trust”. It was also said then that the property had been secured “to deter persons who may wish to use the premises for unwarranted reasons”.
One challenge that has intensified for the credit union since the UNESCO inscription was the fact that options for improvements were limited because the building was considered historic, although the organisation previously went as far as commissioning “preliminary drawings” for a fully restored property.
The structure was previously valued at $900,000 and up to when tenants were evicted it was earning the credit union $36,000 in rental income each year. (SC)