Live where you work, work where you live.
That is urban planner Anthony Fifis answer to the
traffic woes facing the country.
I learned about 30 years ago in planning school: you do
not solve traffic problems by building bigger and better
highways, Fifi said in an interview at his Home Construction
Ltd (HCL) office, Long Circular Mall.
Fifi was responding to the cover story in the February 23
Business Guardian, Want Housing? Go East, which
cited a concentration of at least ten housing developments
in east Trinidad, especially the Arima area.
In the article, chartered surveyor Afra Raymond said he
expected the new developments will increase the population
of east Trinidad by at least 40,000 within three years,
and likewise, the traffic along the east/west corridor.
Fifi said jobs are the greatest generators of traffic because
people have to drive to and from their workplaces daily.
even old town planning principles, dictate that what you
try to do if you want to control traffic is cut work to
residence distances, Fifi said.
He connected that statement to an earlier point: that the
Government currently has 40 buildings under construction
Stating that the Waterfront Project, Government Campus and
Salvatori buildings were among the 40, Fifi said those substantial
buildings were not only reintroducing more jobs into
Port-of-Spain but also displacing the citys population.
He said the population of Port-of-Spain had dropped by more
than 120,000 over the years, but crime wasnt the reason
that drove people out of town.
is being depopulated because there is absolutely no town
planning policy, said Fifi, touting HCLs construction
of One Woodbrook Place as the first project in urban
regeneration to take place in Port-of-Spain in the last
far as Im concerned, One Woodbrook Place s part of
an overall strategy. You need to take people to jobs, you
need to take jobs to people, Fifi said.
He said the lack of a proper, rational, urban plan
for the country is displacing people out of Port-of-Spain,
sending them to east Trinidad and putting the highest employment
opportunities back into Port-of-Spain.
just doesnt make sense, Fifi said.
Logic dictates that jobs should be brought closer to where
people live, Fifi said, adding that he preaches that to
the powers-that-be, including his good friend
Calder Hart, CEO of the Urban Development Company of T&T
say it all the time. They normally agree. And then nothing,
say as much as I can in terms of trying to influence but
then again there are powers and there are forces stronger
than me or whoever.
it has to start with having a planning department that really
sits down and plans properly and operates within a political
system that is willing to be rational with respect to your
plans, Fifi said.
do not have a vision for our settlement pattern, for our
urban structure, for our cities. We dont.
Asked what he thought of Udecotts development programme,
Fifi replied, Ad hoc.
dont want to criticise my good friend, Calder, but
can we really sit down and rationalise, has Calder rationalised
Have you asked him?
What does he say?
has to build. Hes building. Theyre building,
Fifi, CEO of Home Construction Ltd (HCL), was appointed
chairman of the East Port-of-Spain Development Company Ltd
on January 5.
Other board members of the company are:
Dr Deborah Thomas, assistant co-ordinator, Town and Country
Planning Division. Her doctorate is in land economy from
the University of Cambridge.
Noel Garcia, managing director, Housing Development Corporation.
Hayden Ameerali, estates manager, HCL.
Ingrid Lashley, managing director, T&T Mortgage Finance
Folade Mutota, Womens Institute for Alternative Development.
Brigadier Ralph Brown, retired Chief of Defence Staff, T&T
The mandate of the company, which Cabinet agreed to form
on September 15, 2005, seeks to develop and redevelop a
zone in east Port-of-Spain, bounded by Charlotte Street,
Lady Young Road and the Eastern Main Road, and including
Morvant, Never Dirty and Caledonia, to improve the economic,
social and physical environment of those areas.
Fifi said the company, the budget for which comes out of
the Infrastructure Fund, is working on a budget to present
to the Ministry of Finance.
It is also in the process of securing a home. Possible locations
are Success Village, Prizgar Lands and John John, Fifi said.
Haynes, director of the Town and Country Planning Division,
comments on the mainly private sector housing thrust in
Without any analysis, I think the main reasons would be:
availability of land
cost of land
population requiring housing
the fact that weve grown accustomed to long commutes
Home Construction Ltd (HCL) is also developing an administrative
and business centre in Trincity, so this at least for their
housing would be a major selling point.
One of the issues being looked at in the National Transportation
Plan, spearheaded by Ministry of Works and Transport, is
an improved commuter system between Arima and Port-of-Spain.
This would also make the east attractive to develop.
The Business Guardian had reported on February 23 that at
least ten housing developments were in progress in east
Trinidad, among them Carib Gardens, Carib Homes, Cleaver
Heights, The Foothills, Cacique Villas, A River Runs Through
It, The Crossings, La Croix, Ascot Gardens, Buena Vista
on One Woodbrook Place
One Woodbrook Place is about six weeks behind schedule.
Were going to finish when we said were going
to finish. The completion is the end of 2007.
Were affected by all the problems of the industry:
skills, labour, concrete, you name it. In spite of that,
we have our ways of solving things.
We are on schedule. We have our own purchasing lines. Our
organisation is integrated. We have our purchasing department.
We import directly.
Mall to expand by 13 acres
mall space, more cinema screens, fine-dining restaurants
and a hospital are all part of the expansion of Trincity
by its developer Home Construction Ltd (HCL).
Anthony Fifi, HCLs managing director and CEO, said
on Monday that Trincity Mall will be expanded by 600,000
square feet (13 acres), and will include the building originally
earmarked for the American shopping chain K-Mart.
Stating that the first phase of the mall expansion was Caribbean
Cinemas, the food court and the northern wing, Fifi said
the second phase will encompass the K-Mart building and
a connecting block.
The third phase of the mall expansion will include eight
more cinema screens on the northern end, a bowling alley
and about 200,000 square feet of shops.
The final phase will be another 400,000 square feet of shopping
spacesome of it upscaleas well as fine-dining,
an amphitheatre, an adventure park and miniature golf.
All phases are due for completion by mid-2008.
By the time the mall is fully expanded, Fifi said it will
have one million square feet of gross leasable area and
will be the largest shopping centre in the Caribbean apart
from Puerto Ricos Plaza de la Americas.
Trincity area sits on 80 acres, Fifi said. The
K-Mart building alone is 165,000 square feet.
Fifi said phases one and two cost $150 million, with the
others to cost another $200 million, all of which were funded
through HCLs cash flow and loans. The restaurant Muscovado
has just opened and a sports lounge is expected to be completed
by months end.
HCL is also constructing a $60 million, 82-room business
class Holiday Inn along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway.
It is due for completion by years end.
want to open it in time for the (Cricket) World Cup,
Fifi said. We want to open it in time for business
early next year.
The Trincity complex will include a $250 million medical
clinic that will offer heart surgery, oncology, lung and
want to get that ready before the end of next year,
first phase, oncology, will open this year. Its a
module that lends itself to early completion. Its
not as complicated.