By Elesha George
Eight years after it began in 2013 and several millions of dollars later, the facility formerly known as the ADOMS Building officially opened under a new name during a ceremony that showed off its numerous rooms and bold structure.
It was the final chapter in an expensive saga that saw the resignation of board members and the approval of an additional $15 million to complete.
The three-storey building which has been branded the John E St Luce Finance & Conference Center was officially unveiled on Tuesday evening.
The former ADOMS building on Factory Road was renamed after retired government minister Sir John E St Luce, who served as Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Finance for about 18 years. He also served in other portfolios and in several other ministries to include agriculture, public works, health and home affairs.
During the ceremony, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Clarence Pilgrim said Sir John had managed the finances of the twin island before, during and after Antigua’s departure from Great Britain in 1981.
Sir John’s daughter, Abena St Luce spoke on her father’s behalf and said the entire family is overjoyed at the recognition.
Meanwhile, Lennox Weston, Minister of Works and Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance said the physical symbol in remembrance of the work of Sir John was befitting of his contributions to Antigua and Barbuda.
He expects that the building will go on to support the sectors and services in the country that generate wealth, like the Ministry of Tourism and the Citizenship by Investment Unit which have already occupied space in the 94-foot-tall building on the 1.95-acre property.
Minister Weston also spoke of creating spaces that can be used as learning and exhibition centres and small offices for entrepreneurs who seek affordable places to operate from.
“We also want to use this facility to create a lot of social and cultural activities so that we can use this as a great learning and exhibition center,” he remarked.
The ceremony was initially scheduled to take place the first week in December 2021.
Jamilla Hodge, Project Manager in the Ministry of Works aided by Bevan Burke led the team who was responsible for the building’s completion.
Construction on the building began under the United Progressive Party (UPP) administration in 2013 with an estimated cost of EC $17 million, and a completion date of 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.