Residents of Houston Estate, a residential community, have voiced their objections to a condominium-style housing development in the area, saying the infrastructure of such a mega-project would compromise the stability of their homes and create traffic jams, among other problems.
In a letter shared with this newspaper and addressed to Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Kemraj Parsram and City Engineer Colvern Venture, residents said not only raised a number of concerns, but requested information on zoning laws. and environmental regulations for the project, which is being undertaken by Pritipaul Singh Jr and Guyana Port.
The letter, signed by nearly 40 residents, asserts that a development of such magnitude is not appropriate in any form or fashion for its proposed location. “We strongly oppose it, individually and collectively. We are ready to take all necessary measures to defend our civil rights under the Guyanese Constitution, to protect our homes and our families and to protect the residential status where we and our families live,” he said, before asking information and responses to concerns expressed.
The information requested in the letter relates to the zoning status, permissions, licenses, and building and environmental regulations required for such a large-scale development. The letter sought official responses based on the proximity of the proposed project to established family homes in an existing residential area.
Independent and experienced engineers, who have been independently consulted by the group, classified such a massive project as one of industrial proportions. The engineers also informed the group that such a project will require substantial pile drilling for its foundation. “This will compromise and damage the structure of the houses directly bordering and adjoining the proposed sites,” the group stressed. The group was even more concerned that the proposed renderings did not mention neighboring properties or the impact before and during construction on residents. “We draw your attention to this matter, Hon. Minister, and to the attention of the Chief City Engineer & City Engineers Office, and to the Executive Director of the EPA to seek information on current regulations and the impacts of such development in the midst of our long-time residence region,” the letter adds.
Residents have pointed out that the proposed development will have cumulative impacts on the community due to noise and air pollution during the construction phase and impacts from ongoing noise, traffic and parties once complete.
The letter stated that such a project would have a serious impact on their health and safety, their well-being and their human environment. They raised additional concerns about the Guyana Fire Service’s inability to fight any major fires from such a development.
Residents further pointed out that the location of such a business will cause increased traffic congestion, only compounding the existing traffic hazards on the East Bank public road. They pointed out that the small private residential access road leading to their home [from the Public Road] won’t be able to withstand the increased traffic but will more than likely inconvenience residents who already live there.
“We therefore seek information from you, the relevant authorities, on the legal and official status of this development project and the regulatory processes required for the granting of all required permits, licenses, etc. to Mr. Pritipaul Singh Jr., his company, his contractors and his investors,” the locals said.
In addition, residents reminded authorities that under the precautionary principle of the Environmental Protection Act, there are strict standards for noise pollution, air quality and pollution from dust. They called on the EPA to use the section of the law to protect them as citizens and residents from the cumulative impacts of development.
Contacted for comment on residents’ concerns, Singh Jr said he had no comment to offer.
At the recent International Building Expo, where the development was showcased, Singh Jr said the latest condominium-style housing development aims to meet today’s demand for high-end housing. The project, “Houston Towers”, will attract an investment of $140 million, which includes the cost of construction and furnishing. The four-building condominium complex will offer five-star living and will be built on two acres of premier Houston property, East Bank Demerara.
“The idea for Houston Towers was born out of the large real estate developments in Guyana. There is huge demand now, as you already know, with several hotels being built to accommodate the influx of expats and Guyanese returning to Guyana. Singh said, before explaining, “We thought it would be important for us to take advantage since we own two acres of real estate in the Houston Estate area. We want to take this opportunity to give giving Guyanese and non-Guyanese the opportunity to live differently and it is a condominium-style community.The property is being built under Singh’s company, Guyana Port, which was incorporated in 2019 and provides facilities for dry-docking to perform vessel repair and maintenance services.Construction of the first tower is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2023, with 2024 being the proposed date for completion. The first tower will be 11 floors and will have approximately 24 units and approximately three to four penthouses. The entire complex is expected to be completed by 2030 and will feature luxurious and durable finishes. The tallest tower will have 17 floors.
When complete, the entire property will have 340 bedrooms with units offering single and double bedroom options. Each tower will also feature terrace space with panoramic aerial views of the area and will be available for family gatherings and barbecues. The property will have two floors dedicated to parking. The units will be available for rental or sale depending on the requirements of the future owner(s). Additionally, the property developer explained that the building will include retail space equipped with restaurants, cafes, an indoor pool and fitness center, concierge, mailroom and parcels, a reception and business room, an outdoor lounge and a conference room among others.