By Elesha George
After more than a decade of sitting abandoned, the owners of the Clock Tower Mall located in Vernons, Antigua, have made a proposal to the bank to allow them to complete the structure.
The mall was initially set to open on July 112010 – but to date it has never been operational.
The concept of the mall had been heralded a decade earlier by a sign in the north-eastern part of the island that had announced that the fully enclosed air-conditioned business would be “coming soon”.
Co-owner, former senator Elmore “Tamo” Charles told Observer then that the struggle to complete the impressive 43,560 square foot building was “long and hard” for him and his business partner, Everette “Battery” Joseph.
In December 2020, the bank wrote to Charles and his lawyer about a proposal to settle millions of dollars owed to the financial institution.
Their attorney responded to the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in January 2021 proposing that the men be given up to two years to complete the building in exchange for a deferral on interest payments among other considerations.
Sections of the building will have to be demolished and major renovation work is estimated to cost EC$5.6 million overall and is to take up to 12 months to complete, with work expected to be done around the clock.
The duo also wants the bank to waive all interests and allow the work to be fully completed during that period.
The bank is expected to respond to the proposal by the end of the month.
The mall was part of a years-long vision of Charles and Joseph who wanted to empower locals and create spaces for citizens to “elevate themselves”.
The two-storey structure had received a number of leases in 2010 to include one for clothing stores, food courts, and supermarkets. Plans also included a possible duty-free store and creating a centralised area where persons in the north-east of Antigua could pay their utility bills.
Charles and his partner had also intended to extend the Clock Tower brand to include a 132-room business class hotel that would have been constructed on the property adjacent to the mall.
The groundbreaking of that hotel had been set tentatively for January 2011, but that also never materialised.