Artist’s rendition of the planned government building.
PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran on Wednesday presented his vision to develop 114 “quality” residential units to address “the dire need for affordable housing,” in the country; a green area, a new Parliament and Government building, commercial units and a parking garage.
He believes the project will “bring life into Philipsburg.” Doran said affordable housing has been a major concern in the community for many years. “This situation has worsened due to the economic impacts resulting from the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Residents have communicated their discontent to the minister pertaining to the lack of affordable housing; thus, there is an urgent need for quality affordable housing.”
He said his vision is to develop “quality residential units” with an improved infrastructure in Philipsburg. The plan is to develop duplex homes on Walter Nisbeth Road at the location of the current parking lots near the police station and the old Government Administration Building. This section of the project, he said, will consist of 70 units. The two-bedroom duplex homes will comprise ground-floor parking.
Doran plans to develop residential towers at the former location of Postal Services St. Maarten (PSS). This section of the project, he said, will consist of 44 “quality” one- and two-bedroom residential units. Additionally, the towers will consist of 18 commercial units with a green area and parking.
He said the intention is to develop a four-storey facility at the location of the old Government Administration Building, consisting of a commercial area on the ground level. The first, second and third floors will consist of a public parking garage, while the fourth floor is intended to accommodate the Parliament of St. Maarten and other government services, and will include a central open area.
Doran said also that in keeping with a “green theme” around the city, he would like to have a central park area at the front of the facility near a newly-constructed area for a bus station, taxi dispatch, tour bus and turnaround area with a covered craft market.
“Furthermore, an additional building will be constructed which will incorporate public vendors on the ground floor with a restaurant and office spaces on the first and second floors.”
With government’s continuous efforts to reduce its expenses while increasing its revenues and refinancing its debts, Doran said he strongly believes this is an opportunity to boost the economy through and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic by creating jobs through construction and spending activities related to the development.
“The project calls for public/private funding initiatives that are currently being explored with further details to come.” Doran said he will be inviting local architects to submit concepts for his vision for “the new and improved Philipsburg.”
He will continue discussions with the relevant stakeholders on the matter, as “it is of vital importance for the country and its economy.”
When asked by a member of the press about financing for the initiative, during the Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday, Doran said, “We are still busy playing with the numbers.”
He said the intention is to develop affordable quality homes, not social ones. He said the intention is to make the homes as affordable as possible and he would not release any numbers at this point. His statements on Wednesday were to serve as an introduction to the plans and he said he will hold a separate press conference to “break down everything.”