British Gas T&T on St Clair Avenue
Under construction: a new office building by Ansa McAL,
behind the old National Broadcasting Network, Maraval Road
Trotters, corner Sweet Briar and Maraval Road.
Homes in St Clair are dwarfed by the size and cost of their
commercial neighbours: Briar Place on Sweet Briar Road,
Kam Wah Chinese Restaurant on Maraval Road and British Gas
on St Clair Avenue.
The newest commercial building on the St Clair landscape
is Briar Place, which is being developed by Joseph Rahael
of Amera Caribbean Development Ltd.
Built at $800 a square foot, the office building has 60,000
square feet of lettable space and has basement parking.
Leasing manager Ava Tang Choon was reluctant to name the
companies which have signed leases to occupy Briar Place.
Nealco Properties, a real estate development company, has
sourced clients for Briar Place on behalf of Amera Caribbean.
Nealco director Sharon Inglefield said the building has
two levels of parking for 250 vehicles.
has one of the best parking ratios in Trinidad, Inglefield
She said Town and Country Planning Division regulations
state that there must be a parking spot for every 500 square
feet of space.
That planning policy should be applied across the board,
should have parking for 60 cars, and that building has plenty
more space, Inglefield said. It has parking
space for every 380 square feet.
The chocolate-brown Briar Place was hot from the onset.
completely rented, Inglefield said. It went
on the market during construction. We had serious inquiries
from the start.
Inglefield, too, was reluctant to identify commercial tenants,
citing confidentiality agreements and the scourge of kidnappings.
She was more amenable to talking about the upmarket construction
materials used in Briar Place: marble walls and granite
in the lobby and bathrooms.
Inglefield said the level of commercial development taking
place in St Clair had the combined effect of bringing an
enormous amount of vehicular traffic to the area.
Think of it: apart from employees vehicles, there
will be those companies supplying stationery, delivering
lunches, flowers, clients showing up for appointments, etc.
Clair will become like Charlotte Street, Inglefield
There are five businesses alone on Gray Street, including
Ross Advertising and Citadel Ltd.
The international chain restaurant Hooters is to open soon
at the corner of Gray and Rust Streets.
Sweet Briar Road already has Briar Place, Ernst and Young,
the Canadian High Commission, and Trotters (bordering Maraval
Maraval Road has at least a dozen fast-food places, the
most prominent among them being Kam Wah Chinese Restaurant
Ltd and The Hott Shoppe.
Rituals Coffee House and Soupa Salad, also on Maraval Road,
will soon be opening their doors for business.
Kam Wah, anticipating a greater demand, has redesigned its
take-out section downstairs to accommodate a faster turnaround
in lunch-hour traffic.
Ansa McAL is also constructing an office building, 30,000
square feet, at the back of the old NBN building along Maraval
Finding a parking spot in St Clair will not get easier in
the coming months with the construction of a Ministry of
Education building on Alexandra Street.
A building to house the Ministry of Public Administration
and Information is making slow progress on St Clair Avenue.
Also on that street, RBTT Financial Holdings is constructing
a $90 million, seven-storey building as its corporate, regional
The RBTT building, which will be located opposite Queens
Royal College, will have 100,000 square feet of office space.
Two plots of land, equal to 48,000 square feet, were acquired
last year at a cost of $25 million. That would make the
cost of real estate on that end of town about $520 a square
And more projects are in the works for this fast-changing
Industry sources have said a top insurance company has purchased
a property on Gray Street for $25 million for future development.
Businessman Nauzem Nahous has started construction on 46,000
square feet of office space at the corner of Alexandra Street
and Tragarete Road.
The five-storey building will have two floors for parking
will finish before mid-2006, Nahous said.
Nahous wouldnt comment on the cost of the building,
but said hes asking $10 a square foot from prospective
who can pay the dollar, he said.
Residents of St Clair were reluctant to come out when this
visitor rang or called a week ago.
Martin Scott, 67, a partner at Personnel Management Services
Ltd, was a bit more open.
Three years ago, Scott sold his Valsayn North home, in which
he lived for 35 years, and moved to Gray Street, St Clair,
behind Ernst and Young.
He traded in the traffic along the East/West Corridor and
all its accompanying frustrations for the convenience of
living and working closer to the office.
The other reason he moved?
he said. I will be 68 in August. I could not afford
what is considered more desirable placesthe west or
Without disclosing details of the sale of his Valsayn home,
Scott said he wasnt about to buy more than what he
wasnt taking on more worries. All my life, I paid
mortgage and overdraft and I done with that.
He said the pace of commercialisation of St Clair within
three years has been faster than he anticipated.
Street has become a motorway for racing people trying to
get to and from Tragarete Road to St Clair Avenue,
Parking has become cluttered and indiscriminate.
People double park and park at corners, he complained.
Scott said since he didnt buy a property on Gray Street
as an investment, hes not about to move, even if someone
offers him millions.
moved here because the convenience outweighed the inconvenience,
Scott said. Everything has a price.
An aerial shot of Maraval Road
A shot of Tatil Building from Sweet Briar Road.
security, parking than downtown PoS
banks, energy companies and financial services sector have
shifted some of their operations to St Clair because it
offers improved security, favourable parking ratios and
better visibility from main roads and thoroughfares.
St Clair is also easily accessible from the west, the East/West
Corridor and the Queens Park Savannah.
Thats the opinion of Nealco Properties director
Sharon Inglefield, when asked about the appeal of St Clair
for many high-profile companies shifting from downtown Port-of-Spain.
biggest problem in Port-of-Spain is parking for business
people, she said. They dont want to come
downtown and have nowhere to park.
She described the Unit Trust Corporation building on Independence
Square as a good example of bad planning.
an incredibly well-drawn building with very little parking.
She said the demand for commercial properties in St Clair
was always there, but it has accelerated within the last
five years. The cost of rental per square foot was then
$6, but that has now gone up to as much as $12, she said.
Real estate prices have also gone up because of steep increases
in building materials, namely steel, and the fact that some
with skilled labourers, or potential labourers, are opting
to work with Cepep instead of the construction sector.
Describing the introduction of Cepep as bad timing,
Inglefield said theres sufficient private sector and
government projects to keep that level of worker really
Some prominent law firms are relocating north of Port-of-Spain,
Inglefield said, citing Lex Caribbean having offices on
Sweet Briar Road, St Clair, and M Hamel-Smith and Company
on Albion Street, which is close to Queens Park Savannah.