The government is trying to avoid haphazard development after the E.T. Joshua Airport is decommissioned. (File photo)

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Persons interested in buying lands where the E.T. Joshua airport now stands in Arnos Vale could do so as early as next June as the government moves to develop a city there.

The government has retained a firm to design a master plan for the 63-acres of land at the airport 10 minutes outside of Kingstown.

“If that deadline is met, it means we will be on the market to sell,” Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said yesterday at a symposium on the Argyle International Airport (AIA).

Gonsalves said that E.T. Joshua Airport would close when the AIA becomes operational – scheduled for 2014 — and the Arnos Vale Development Company will next year begin to actively pursue the development of the Arnos Vale site.

Diamond and Schmitt Architects, a Canadian firm, will produce a free master plan for Arnos Vale as part of the contribution by Jack Diamond, a Canadian who owns a house in Mustique, Gonsalves said.

The government will, however, have to pay the other specialists that the company will coordinate as it develops a high-level land use and urban design master plan for Arnos Vale.

The architectural company will provide a market assessment in addition to civil engineering findings on storm drainage and storm water management.

It will also report on wastewater collection, treatment and disposal; water supply treatment and distribution; the availability and internal routing of utilities; and findings of a study of future traffic conditions and needs.

The government has three options to deal with traffic between Kingstown and Arnos Vale: improving the road over Sion Hill; constructing a tunnel under Cane; and or constructing a road around the Cane Garden headland.

Gonsalves said this planning is needed before selling the lands at Arnos Vale or development could be haphazard.

“The people who buy the lands now, without any development plan, [are] going to get the land cheap — relatively speaking — but we are not interesting in going for a quick buck, we have to keep our head on,” he said.

“Now, when we have the master plan … we will sell you land but what we are selling you is developed land, even if the land is not yet developed because we are doing it in accordance with the master plan and therefore to get the premium price for it and at the same time take care of all the developmental needs and the environmental factors,” Gonsalves explained.

He said that the lands at Arnos Vale, if properly planned and supported, could be used for a cruise line boarding point or a tourism ferry port and perhaps a sea front boardwalk and a marina.

The options also include high quality shopping mall facilities — similar to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia — and other retail development concepts and multiplex cinemas.

The lands could also be used for good quality government offices and or a modern new hospital, high value apartments and condominium, a major quality hotel, and parking facilities.

“What I am talking about here is not farfetched and you notice the quality persons we have engaged from the beginning,” Gonsalves said.

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