ADOMS building to officially open next month under new name

The building was finally completed in January of this year
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After years of controversy, alleged overspending and even dismissals, the ADOMS building on Factory Road will be officially opened next month.

Minister of Works Lennox Weston made the announcement during a recent Observer AM interview.

Weston explained that the government is hoping to officially mark the occasion with a grand opening in December, during which the site will be renamed.

“We are going to have a grand opening about the first week in December. We have already had our first conference hosting; we wanted to make sure everything was picture perfect.

“It is the single best project that we have completed in this country. It is going to make all Antiguans proud. We are doing the grounds and garden now and we want to make it be a signature project. It will have a new name; you are going to be pleased with the new name when we open it,” Weston said.

Construction on the ADOMS building commenced in 2013 under the United Progressive Party (UPP) administration with an estimated cost of EC$17 million, and was projected to be completed by May 2015.

But with the UPP having lost the 2014 general election, the project continued under the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) administration, however the 2015 completion date was not met.

In 2017, parties involved in the building reported to Cabinet that challenges related to water runoff during rainfall and the thickness of the concrete that paved the parking apron were the reasons for the delays and cost increase.

However, work was halted in August 2018 after the five members of the ADOMS board were removed by Cabinet. Project Manager Wendell Marshall’s contract had also ended in July 2018.

Their removal came just days after Prime Minister Gaston Browne called for the board to resign and the contractor to be fired as the delays reportedly cost the government over $30 million.

There were also allegations that the government may have been exploited.

In 2019, Minister Weston said the matter was being looked into and from what they had gone through at the time, with their accountants, indicated that there might be a case.

The Works Ministry was then charged with completing the project, which they did in January this year.

In May, Prime Minister Gaston Browne indicated that the Citizenship by Investment Unit and the Tourism Authority would be occupying the building.

A space, according to Weston, will also be allotted for youth in need of an area to conduct business.

“We are just doing the basement. We are cutting it up into small individual spaces for young professionals who want to have an affordable space. We have some beautiful offices for them in the ADOMS building,” he said.

When asked if the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping, for which the structure was originally intended, will also occupy the building now earmarked as a financial centre, Weston had this to say: “If they can pay the rent. The rent is quite pricey. It is not a commercial building, you know; the Ministry of Public Works is a commercial arm not a commercial project, it must pay for itself.

“So, anybody who can pay the rent they are welcome, but ADOMS now pays about $3 per square foot; our rent is more like $8 or $10,” Weston added.

With the opening earmarked for next month, the question of if government will be pursuing the contractor for the fraud allegations is again at the forefront but it seems that a final decision has not yet been made.

“The government hasn’t decided yet to pursue it in court but we have the report which showed the massive fraud that occurred and wastage but the government has decided not to go to court or to charge anyone as yet with the matter,” Weston revealed.

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