August 31, 2011
With the old straw market ravaged by Hurricane Irene, government officials said they hope construction of the new complex can "speed up" to accommodate the vendors. The construction company would be happy to accommodate them, if someone will show up from the ministry to approve the power grid.
According to Bob Hall, the project manager at Cavalier Construction, the new straw market is essentially ready for business, but nobody from the government has arrived to carry out an inspection so the lights can be turned on.
"The power has been here for four weeks now," he told The Guardian Business. "We just need someone to inspect it from the ministry and I hope they'll be here soon. I don't know why it has taken so long. Hopefully we'll have an inspection in today and get the main power on."
The structure is mostly complete, Hall said, and the company is currently finishing a series of upgrades and touch-ups to the building's original design, which will make the $12 million complex safe and comfortable. He added that new straw market could withstand 200mph winds.
"You might get the odd panel off the roof if another hurricane comes through, but generally it should stand up," he said. "When you see this building, you'll see."
The endorsement comes as vendors at the old straw market, just next door, continue to sift through the destruction left behind by Irene. The tent was heavily damaged in the storm and many of the products were destroyed. As Brent Symonette, the Deputy Prime Minister, toured the site last week, he said the storm will "hopefully speed up the completion of the new market".
"Hopefully we will be able to make some adjustments and get towards the new market," he added last Thursday.
Richard Wilson, the managing director of Cavalier, agreed that the structure could be ready for the venders if someone comes by to inspect the panels. "You can't move in because we can't get the power," he said.
Hall added that once approval is made, the company could make arrangements for the AC, plumbing and the lights. Meanwhile, the new straw market is finishing off a series of upgrades recommended by the government and the venders.
After Cavalier handed over the initial site on July 18, it then had to apply for an eight-week extension to carry out additional work. Instead of simply having fire extinguishers, Hall said they are nearly finished with installing a sprinkler system throughout the premises. There will be exit signs, fire alarms and locks on each individual booth.
"These additions have taken a bit of time but we're getting on with it," he said.
The new straw market may also feature individual doors for each of the 440 booths, although many of these elements are minor and cosmetic, and will not affect the opening next month. Hall said the complex has 20 public toilets, office bathrooms and a recreational area for the venders. Cavalier has installed an elevator for elderly or disabled guests able to reach the second floor, there's a speaker system on which you can play music through the market and it has built a stage area and balcony for putting on shows. "You can do all sorts of things down here," Hall said.
After the venders leave the old straw market, construction will begin on Nassau's new town square, which will feature green, wide-open areas for residents and restaurant patios. The Downtown Nassau Partnership hopes to start this initiative as soon as possible.
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