Construction of the new home for 2020 Panorama champions WITCO Desperadoes has started.
The media toured the space at 6-8 George Street, Port of Spain on Friday.
Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland, Desperadoes’ chairman Finbar Fletcher, band captain Adrian Glasgow, Urban Development Corporation of TT (Udecott) representatives and councillors Jenneil Frederick and Dennis Bristol were also present.
Scotland told reporters, “The site in its completed format will be about 1.325 acres, which is about 12 residential lots.”
The new headquarters will have seating, the panyard, a main commercial building and a car park. It is expected to cost $14 million.
The Prime Minister announced in February that the band was to have a new home and construction was scheduled to start in April. However, this was delayed because of the covid19 pandemic.
Scotland said construction is expected to take nine months.
The band and its management want the venue to be up and running in time for Carnival 2022. Carnival 2021 was cancelled because of the pandemic.
Fletcher said he felt good about the construction finally starting.
“According to the plans laid out by Udecott, we think it is ideal for the band, and gives us what we want.”
He said the band will always be a Laventille band, no matter what. The band moved from Laventille in 2015 because of space and crime concerns. It temporarily relocated to Queen's Park East, and later Tragarete Road.
But Fletcher said the space in Laventille will be kept and the George Street headquarters will be used as a commercial centre.
“The band in this section of the city will go a long way towards the rejuvenation of Port of Spain,” Fletcher said.
He said the main generator of revenue for the band will be the car park and the main commercial building will have restaurants and spaces for rent, and a team was looking into the revenue-generating aspect of the space.
Fletcher said the band and its management are going to have to reimagine and rethink how things are done in the short and long term, given the pandemic. The band plans to put on a virtual concert, since it was unable to stage a celebration after winning its 12th Panorama title.
Scotland said Desperadoes’ new headquarters is part of the larger plan to revamp Port of Spain as the capital city.
Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez was scheduled to attend but could not, owing to a day of meetings.
Scotland said he and Martinez will meet to discuss plans for the city.