No Central Housing, City Council approval for 7th floor; owner to beg President

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 July 2016, 18:34 by Denis Chabrol

The building at the corner of Robb and Camp Streets where authorities have issued a cease-work order on the construction of a seventh floor.

The building at the corner of Robb and Camp Streets where authorities have issued a cease-work order on the construction of a seventh floor.

The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) and Georgetown City Council have refused to grant approval for the addition of a seventh floor to the building under construction of at Robb and Camp Streets, prompting the owner to contemplate appealing to President David Granger.

“The last thing now left is to go and see the President,” Building owner, Rizwan Khan told Demerara Waves Online News.

He confirmed that the CH&PA refused to allow him to make a case to that decision-making body during its meeting on Tuesday, July 13, 2016. He claimed that the security guard ordered him to leave after he had waited from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Contrary to correspondence from the Georgetown City Council seen by Demerara Waves Online News, Khan said he was never informed that green light has not been provided for the seventh floor.

Khan said he has already spent more than GYD$1 million to conduct integrity tests on the foundation and other parts of the structure to prove scientifically that the building could easily accommodate a seventh floor to be used as a lunch and recreation room by employees of a Call Centre.

Demerara Waves Online News was told that one of the concerns is that the building, which would house at least 2,500 persons each per shift at a call centre, would not have sufficient toilets. The recommended ratio is one toilet for 25 persons.

Sources said the CH&PA and the Georgetown City Council believed that the process was being abused because three floors had been already constructed before a planning permit was applied for and construction of the seventh floor- which is 50 percent complete- began before the extension was applied for. However, Khan said he applied for the extension more than six months ago.

Having exhausted all options, Khan said he would be appealing to President Granger in writing to have the approval granted for the construction of the seventh floor. “I am going to write a nice letter to the President and tell him the President all the details and we are bringing the investment and we need to gain this investment, not to lose this investment because we are afraid that this thing come out of hands,” he said.

He said if he does not get the go ahead to complete the works by August 30, 2016 it is highly likely that the investor would pull out and the opportunity to employ 7,500 persons would be lost and the country would lose at least US$40 million annually in salaries, income tax and social security contributions. “We have to meet the criteria, requirements and standards that they want before we sign a contract with the call centre company and if we don’t finish by the deadline, we are afraid that they might pull out,” he said.

He said the 2,500 persons would be occupying the building during each of three shifts.

Khan said he has already spent GYD$1 billion on construction of the building and has another GYD$15 million in materials awaiting approval to complete the seventh floor.

The owner said the ground floor and first floor would house a mini-mall and a fast-food restaurant while the remaining upper floors would be used for a Call Centre.