Carnival City eyed for site

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Trinidad – Plans for a massive commercial development at the site of Sunday’s million dollar fire in Woodbrook surfaced yesterday, even as fire-fighters sifted through the still smouldering debris to determine the cause of the fire while affected workers looked on tearfully.
Hours after the blaze that razed the site which housed De Nu Pub (formerly known as the Mas Camp Pub), Sweet Lime Restaurant and Ma Pau Casino at the corner of Ariapita Avenue and French Street, Woodbrook, a two-page document began circulating via social media detailing plans for a Carnival City at the location.
Although fire officers returned to the site as early as 7 am yesterday, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Northern Division, Marlon Smith, reported that “nothing conclusive” had been discovered up to 3 pm.
With tears in their eyes yesterday, workers from the three establishments also gathered at the site, talking amongst themselves about the future, comforting each other and offering words of support.
While Ma Pau workers have been assured of continued employment, workers from De Nu Pub and Sweet Lime Restaurant are uncertain about their own livelihoods.
De Nu Pub owner Roderick Ward visited the scene yesterday but left to attend to other personal matters. He confirmed the 20 workers attached to De Nu Pub had been told not to report for work until further notice.
But Ward (R) later returned in an attempt to speak with relatives regarding the proposed project to be constructed at the site. Confirming that a “notice” had been placed in his mailbox yesterday morning detailing plans for the Carnival City, Ward said while he had sight of it he wanted to read and digest it before commenting.
Titled “Notification of Intended Development,” the two-page document revealed that Ward Hotel Ltd—which owns the property—had applied to the Environmental Management Authority for a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) to undertake a development at the French Street and Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook site.
With the new development set to encompass the affected site as well as the Ma Pau Car Park on French Street, the document proposed to demolish the current premises and erect a seven-storey structure, which would include a 200-vehicle parking facility and provide a base for the Wyndham Hotel, the internationally acclaimed Hard Rock Cafe, a hotel restaurant, gym, spa and retail shops. According to the notice, the commencement date of work is May 1. The project outlined employment for at least 400 people upon completion.
The second page of the document featured a sketch of the parking structure, along with a coloured photo of the completed hotel.
Calls to Mc Donald Ward and Ma Pau owner John Wallace’s cell phones went unanswered yesterday.
But Ma Pau director Sherry Persad confirmed plans for the project, saying it was to a be a Ward/Wallace project. Persad said a neighbourhood advisory exercise was completed last week, where nearby residents and business owners/operators were informed of the impending project.
Persad confirmed it would be a “phased long-term project” and none of the businesses would have had to close their doors during construction, as it was to be a “shift and build” type of arrangement.
Standing with workers yesterday and greeting long-time clients who stopped to lend support, Persad said they were anxious to get back into the casino to begin clean-up operations.
Officials at the Port-of-Spain City Corporation confirmed the project had crossed the monthly Statutory Meeting floor some time ago, as permission would have had to be sought from them as Woodbrook falls within their purview.

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