It appears that there is still one more twist in the ongoing saga over Government’s compulsory acquisition of the Liquidation Center to make room for the construction of the Hyatt Hotel, as the Barbados National Trust is voicing opposition to the destruction of the historically-listed building.
In a recent interview with Barbados TODAY, president of the heritage preservation body Peter Stevens explained that the now condemned building is in fact one of country’s few remaining 18th century warehouses with a unique roof structure. He is therefore calling on Government and the developers to consider either incorporating the historic architecture into the development or repurposing it as public space.
“The Liquidation Centre is actually a listed historical building, don’t mind the fact that it looks ugly. Everybody can agree that it does not look pretty, but any building can be made to look ugly or pretty. This building is in fact a huge 18th century warehouse that has some really interesting design features, but you can’t see them because it is a closed in warehouse and internal conditions are horrible.
“That building has the most amazing roof structure on it,” explained Stevens,
He revealed that he has written to the Town and Country Planning Department on the issue, but it appears that his concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
“In my last communication to the planning unit, I expressed concern that the building not be used as part of the hotel development. We believe that the hotel plant would benefit from the inclusion of this historic space that can offer a meeting place for visitors and Barbadians,” said Stevens.
“My understanding is that the intention of Government is to delist it so that it can be demolished. There is nothing in law that says you have to delist a building to demolish it. The whole point of listing a building as historical is so that you pay attention to it when planning applications are made. You only delist a building if it no longer has historic architectural value, but if Government wants to demolish a building there is nothing stopping them from doing so.”
The national trust head pointed out that buildings of this nature have formed part of the aesthetic appeal in countries across the world and he is concerned that the powers that be, may not be thinking outside of the box when it comes to the use of historic buildings.
“In other countries they take those buildings and gut the inside and make the outside beautiful. The idea is to create an entire open space that you can fill in as an open public space covered by a roof. You can also build in businesses such as restaurants and shops, and this is something that could have co-existed with the Hyatt hotel,” contended Stevens.
“In England there are a number of examples where they have used these structures in modern hotel developments. I see in England where they use railway yards and converted them into modern malls and so on. It is a question of thinking imaginatively.”
The property was taken over by Government through the compulsory acquisition process in Parliament, with the notice to acquire having been served on the owners since March last year. The property forms part of the tourism footprint identified by the Mia Mottley administration for a number of hotel developments, including the new Hyatt. The building, previously owned by Asha Mrs Ram Mirchandani, has been condemned by four Government agencies as a fire hazard and a threat to human health. After one unsuccessful attempt to get the High Court to delay the acquisition, the former owners have filed a challenge in the Appeal Court, which is still to be heard.