Atlantic Bank Limited has purchased a prime piece of prime property belonging to the Government of Belize. The property is located on Cleghorn Street in Belize City, adjacent to Atlantic Bank. It is the headquarters for the National Fire Services in the Old Capital and the value of the sale is unconfirmed, though it is expected that the bank would pay a hefty price due to the location. The Fire Department will have to vacate the location by the end of the year. Minister of Transport and NEMO Edmond Castro says that the process of the relocation of the fire department to a better location in the city has been in the works for many years. According to Castro, the new fire department will be located in the Holy Emmanuel area near Chetumal Boulevard. He says that with the monies received from Atlantic Bank, a second fire station will be built near the municipal airstrip.
Edmond Castro, Minister of Transport and NEMO
“It is a process that has been in the works for even before I became the minister responsible for fire. I think it was during honorable Melvin Hulse. So it is a process that took forever to complete and now that is has been completed from some months ago whereby Atlantic Bank paid the government of Belize for that portion of land. I think they want it maybe for parking. I think they are in the area where they don’t have any parking for their business. That money has been paid to the government of Belize which in turn we are setting up the new head quarters for the fire department in the Chetumal street area, somewhere over there. The money is sufficient to build the fire station with adequate land space for parking, for the fire station and I think if my memory serves me right that we will have some money set said to also have a fire station in the municipal airstrip area. So we are getting two fire stations basically from the money that we collected from that location.”
“Is it a case that they bought it over or is it something that the fire station was going to move even before the transaction came into the play?”
“Even if they did not complete that transaction, the fire department had already located adequate piece of land in that Chetumal Street area so the headquarters for fire would have moved there anyhow because it is really crummy for the type and size of trucks to be maneuvering in and out of that area. So was in the process to move out of there anyways.”
PUP Criticizes Fire Station Sale As Short Term Thinking
As we told you yesterday, government sold the Belize City Fire Station - which also serves as the Department's headquarters.
They sold it to Atlantic Bank - whose main branch is across the street from the station. The sale price is 2.8 million dollars and the deal was concluded back in March.
But, the terms of the deal states that the Fire Department has to move up by December - and there's no way they can build a new fire station by then.
So, in the interim, this hugely important - around the clock department - will have to be seeking lodging for its large trucks and many firefighters.
Today, the PUP's area rep for Cayo South criticised the sale, bot for the price, but for the lack of planning:
Hon. Juluis Espat, PUP Area Rep. - Cayo South
"No it is not the value of the sale it is that your selling something and you don't have a replacement immediately when it is an emergency use, that is the concern I have, you are saying that you are selling this thing to get the little cheese so you can eventually build the building, an election the come when you don't know when it is coming so what will happen in thatâ€¦to build a building of that type you are talking 18 moths before you start, 1 year before you design so you are talking 2 and half years before the building will even function, what happens in the meantime ? So the $2.8 million dollars is not only to build a new building, what will happen with the 2 and a half years of rental, 2 and half years of rental? So where are they going? A parking lot? and park the poor fire station? I want to know what happens if a fire happens right now where will they come out from, where will they rent, where will they rent? â€¦Exactly so how can you make a decision without having a plan laid out as to what is phase 1, phase 2, phase 3."
"But looking at the raw economics of it, as someone whoâ€¦ I know you are not a realtor but you deal in the business of property development, would you say $2.8 million dollars is a fair value for?"
Hon. Julius Espat:
"I think it is market value, I don't have no negative to say about the value."
A general location has been designated for a new Fire Station, but - as far as we know - there are no plans for it.