An artist’s impression of the completed section of the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.??

The Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (formerly Sherbourne Conference Centre) will be completed by 2011.

This promise was made today by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy at a press briefing held there to provide an overview of the new offices and multi-storey car park that will result.

Explaining the rationale behind the project that was designed by Design Collaborative, Mr. Sealy said: "Upon coming into office, we realised that the building could not continue in a state of being partially completed." He added that at the same time, the Barbados Conference Services Limited (BCSL), "which had an accumulated deficit of $6.3 million, even though it enjoyed a relative monopoly in terms of providing conference space of a certain magnitude in Barbados", still had to be provided with a subvention every year from Government.

He pointed out that it was important to find "a viable option for developing a facility that would not necessarily impact on the public’s purse in some major way."

According to Minister Sealy, after much consideration and consultation with Government and private sources, the decision was taken to continue with "a hybrid facility where we would as much as possible retain the capacity to hold conferences."

He disclosed that much of the area that remained uncompleted since the existence of the Centre would be completed with office space of some 64,000 square feet and it would cater to the private sector as well as to a number of Government departments.

Mr. Sealy noted that only one meeting area of the original facility "a very small room in the foyer area" would be lost when work gets under way but that all other areas including the Flamboyant Room, with its capacity to house interpreters, would remain.

While he expressed the hope that the BCSL would become a profitable entity, Minister Sealy said: "I think that the plans we have are good ones, the architectural aesthetics will be retained as much as possible, but there are some very interesting features that are proposed."

Preparatory work on the facility started over?? a week ago on the southern section of the building, previously earmarked for an auditorium, but which will now accommodate new office space.??

While construction of the 321 space multi-storey car park along the southern border of the property will begin before year-end, work on four floors of new offices is projected to commence during for the first quarter of 2010, with an anticipated completion date of 2011.

Though the estimated cost of the project is some $45 million, according to the Tourism Minister, "Government is determined to finish it under budget."

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