WEDCO: Two Options For Albert Row Property

October 6, 2019 | 15 Comments

“For more than 15 years WEDCO has been searching both internally and externally for a solution which would see the restoration of Albert Row,” WEDCO said, explaining that they are still hopeful someone will come forward with a “workable solution,” however if not the only two options are to leave them in a derelict condition or apply to have the buildings delisted and then apply for a demolition order.

“All interested parties, and there have been many, come to the same conclusion, which is that to bring this site to modern day code would cost in excess of $10 million and is simply not a financially viable project,” a spokesperson explained.

Albert Row Bermuda October 2019 (1)

“We have been trying to find a developer for these homes for at least 15 years,” said Joanna Cranfield, the Business Development Manager of the building’s owners, the West End Development Corporation [WEDCO].

“We have been in close contact with numerous historical bodies, namely HBAC, The National Museum of Bermuda, the Bermuda National Trust and the Naval Dockyards Society in the UK, all of whom have declined to assist in taking on this project.

“We continue to be told that we have an obligation to renovate these old buildings despite the cost and good business acumen. We have issued expressions of interest and we have made it clear in the past that we are open to unsolicited offers to renovate, upgrade and restore the buildings.”

Albert Row Bermuda October 2019 (2)

Albert Row has 16, two-bed homes arranged in four blocks and is a Grade 2 listed building. In the past, WEDCO has stipulated that any plan must include the repair and re-roofing of the buildings.

WEDCO also stipulated that the present façade must also be maintained with “specific attention paid to maintaining the integrity of the historical aspects of the buildings”.

Albert Row Bermuda October 2019 (3)

A spokesperson added, “A timeline showing WEDCO’s efforts to secure the restoration:

  • 2004 – 2006 WEDCO attempted to strike a deal with Habitat for Humanity with no success.
  • August 2010 – Asbestos assessment and testing undertaken by BWC on behalf of WEDCO
  • July 2013 – all tenants were vacated or relocated due to the poor condition of the buildings. WEDCO could not justify the cost of the required upgrade in order to return them back to residential inventory, which was under Rent Control with rents between $850 and $1200.
  • June 2014 – WEDCO released requests for Expression of Interest and received a proposal from a local Construction company, which was unable to secure funding.
  • September/October 2015 – WEDCO reached out to the Bermuda National Trust who declined to take on the restoration project due to the economic viability and staffing constraints.
  • December 2015 – WEDCO’s General Manager wrote to the Naval Dockyard Society in UK asking for assistance with funding and delivering the project but the Society did not offer financial help.
  • February 2016 – a budget cost estimate was again secured and supported previous estimates that the cost of renovations would be in the region of $10m if every unit was connected to Dockyard infrastructure and brought to current Planning code.
  • February 2016 – Development Opportunity advertised and new signage was erected on site. Some proposals were received but all lacked self-financing.
  • June 2018 – WEDCO received a proposal from a local construction company – looking to lease and restore Albert Row. Unfortunately, after a few months of discussion the financing was not available to complete the restoration.
  • August 2018 – WEDCO received a proposal from local Real Estate Company. The proposal was for WEDCO to finance and restore the units and the local real estate company to be offered the sole agency for sales.. WEDCO was interested but once again did not have the funds to finance this project.
  • July 2019 – New signage erected advertising the development opportunity and new campaign instigated to attract developers.
  • September/October – WEDCO announces a new appeal for developers to come forward.

Albert Row Bermuda October 2019 (4)

“Part of WEDCO’s remit is preservation and restoration of buildings at Dockyard and WEDCO has spent millions of dollars on projects such as the restoration of the Chicane and Glassworks buildings, Prince Alfred Terrace which are now thriving rental apartments as well as dozens of smaller projects.”

Ms Cranfield added: “We are still hopeful that there are people or organisations out there who will read this and come forward with workable solutions, inclusive of financial commitment, however, should that not happen within a reasonable time frame, we will only have two options open to us.

“Firstly would be to leave them as is in a derelict condition, which is not only unsightly but also dangerous and unhealthy.

“Secondly would be the option to apply to have the buildings delisted and then apply for a demolition order. Whilst this is not our preferred choice it now does appear to be the only suitable and sustainable solution.”

Albert Row Bermuda October 2019 (5)

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Comments (15)

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  1. Gustav says:

    Nobody will invest in that crap
    Knock it down

  2. Boston Whaler Owner says:

    gimme a Bulldozer,|I’ll fix the problem real quick!

  3. Ringmaster says:

    Have them listed, then use them to train unemployed Bermudians in the various trades to renovate them, then sell them.

  4. time is up says:

    15 years and cant make a decision. Time to knock it down. Take lots of photos then have a Bermuda blessing and vam…..down.Simple.Lest any conservationist get in the way again start to tax them immediately after you hand them the lease. Time to move on.

  5. why do they need to be restored? says:

    Knock it down and you can build much better housing for people who need a place to live. Strange how the buildings surrounding the victualling yard which presented a much better option for development (condos or business offices) have been allowed to rot, and somehow, Albert Row is a necessary restoration project???

  6. Jus' Askin' says:

    THEY NEED TO GO!!!!!

  7. wahoo says:

    As it stands now it is a wonderful venue for the new hall of fame for plp economists.

  8. Question says:

    Perhaps they could be renamed the Ewart Project.

    • Y-Gurl says:

      True, then we can hire ICS to build them and Brown & Co will buy them, nothing new here

  9. somuchless says:

    Maybe we use one of the buildings for the grand opening of finchtech lol

  10. Dianne de Cruz says:

    Breaks my heart to see Albert Row in this state. Should have been maintained from the start. Used to live in No 12 and my grandparents in No 5. When I lived ther growing up all the houses were occupied for most of that time. And the were comfortable homes. Bermuda has an unfortunate history of letting their old buildings deteriorate. Dockyard was just as bad as this if not worse at one time. Very sad. All my childhood memories now at the mercy of the bulldozer

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Thank you, Dianne, for a sensible comment.

      I agree, it is shame to see those buildings in that shape. I thought so when I was doing some work for WEDCO in the mid 1990s. They were in rough shape then.

      Those buildings have serious history and should be preserved, but I cannot advocate spending money on them now that we are in so much debt.

      I hope someone with a conscience comes along to save the day.

  11. Y-Gurl says:

    This is a typical WEDCO screw up, they leave buildings open for 15 years and then ask for a workable solution, the only solution is to demolish the historical buildings, this quango has never worked and probably never will, they need to have either a to- to bottom re vamp or simply disband them.

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