By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now associate managing editor
ROSEAU, Dominica – Following hurricanes Erika and Maria’s devastation to Dominica, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit became a beacon of hope and rose to the challenge not only to ensure that more than 5,000 Dominicans will be able to relocate into new homes, he also embarked on an ambitious goal to ensure that Dominica becomes the world’s first climate resistant nation.
This level of resilience, foresight and cheerfulness extends to the people of Dominica who are now reaping the reward of new homes, world-class amenities and sustainable communities that are the envy of many Caribbean islands.
The plan is to have most of these developments complete by the end of 2019 and according to Montreal Management Consultants Est (MMCE) contracted by the government in September 2016 to design and construct Dominica’s housing project, “It is our intent that to provide buildings that are in line with the government’s objective of providing a climate resilient country, we are constantly reviewing designs and ideas to ensure that all buildings meet optional specifications,” Chris Timmins, project director of MMCE Dominica, said.
Dominica’s ambitious housing projects, termed Dominica Housing is an initiative by the government of Dominica and funded entirely by the citizenship by investment (CBI) programme was introduced in 1993. Dominica’s CBI has garnered commendations from the United Nations, the World Bank, other international bodies and regional institutions, has ensured that hundreds of Dominicans have affordable housing, under the Dominica Housing/citizenship by investment programme.
The programme offers global investors and their families a means of acquiring citizenship with the option of either contributing to a government-held fund or buying into pre-approved eco-friendly real estate. Investors in Dominica gain access to immigration benefits, such as increased global mobility and the ability to secure a safe future for themselves and future generations.
The flagship project: Bellevue Chopin Housing
Dominica Housing, a concept derived by prime minister Skerrit’s innovative mindset and industry professionals, including MMCE, recognized by their worldwide achievements, initially indented to provide affordable homes for Dominica’s displaced residents of Petite Savanne. This is now, a positive life-changing accomplishment for nearly 1,000 residents evacuated from the area after it was declared a special disaster area following tropical storm Erika in 2015.
The Bellevue Chopin housing development includes a total of 353 residential units consisting of townhouses and apartments, as well as a commercial centre, which consists of a commercial plaza that has 31 units, community and resource centre and farmers market. Zone A1 consists of 91 units that have been completed and handed over. Zone A2 has an additional 34 that have been completed.
Zone B2 consists of 50 units that are scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2019. Commercial Complex B1 consists of 16 shops and 15 offices that are expected to be completed by May 30, 2019. Zone C1 has 98 units, of which 44 units are ready for handing over and the remaining 58 to be turned over by May 30, 2019.
Zone C2 has 54 units that are expected to be completed by June 30, 2019. The newly added Zone C3 will consist of 26 units which are expected to be completed by July 30, 2019.
“It should also be noted,” said Timmins, “that this is the first large scale installation of fibre optic services to an entire community on the island. All the utilities are underground thus making the reconnection of these a rapid process in the event the main services are lost.”
“All new buildings are constructed from a reinforced concrete technology, equipped with hurricane proof windows, underground services. The homes are designed and built to the European upper middle-income standard with all two- and three-bedroom homes, two fully fitted bathrooms and a fully fitted kitchen along with generously sized rooms. The homes are in excess of 1,600 square feet,” he continued.
“Following the passage of hurricane Maria in 2017 and the challenges faced in obtaining replacement building materials in the Caribbean, the overall construction of 357 homes in 20 months is an impressive achievement by all the contractors involved in the development,” Timmins, said.
Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie said that MMCE and Dominica Housing are back on schedule, delivering homes to the government of Dominica every two weeks.
“There are presently roughly 1,000 construction workers directly employed in the construction of the housing developments. In addition to people who are indirectly involved as delivery drivers, air and sea transport, suppliers, concrete companies, quarries, etc, at the same time a large proportion of the construction costs are directly benefitting the local population creating employment and contributing to Dominica’s economic development,” the minister noted.
The way forward
The flagship project at Bellevue Chopin is not the only area benefitting from the housing project; other developments across Dominica are also under construction, following the climate resilient blueprint, built in outstanding and beautiful locations, equipped with 21st-century amenities.
Dominica Housing and MMCE have indicated that: “Construction has commenced on 330 residences on the East Coast (which was very badly hit during the hurricane). The locations are in Castle Bruce, La Plaine, Grand Fond, Delices and San Sauveur. The various sites were chosen for their safety from flooding and will be equipped with 66 brand-new 21st-century homes.
“Dominica Housing and MMCE are also constructing 136 new homes in the Portsmouth area at George Town and Cotton hill using the same design as already constructed in Bellevue Chopin, which local residents are now occupying and are very happy with.
“Both these developments are only the first phase of what will eventually be a much larger development with new commercial, government and essential service buildings being provided. The first homes in these new developments are planned for July this year.”