A “classic modern” design (centre) will be used for the new West End Ferry Terminal following a poll conducted by the Recovery and Development Agency.(PHOTO: RDA)

When government unveiled a “futuristic and organic” design for the new West End Ferry Terminal last February, it proved so controversial that the Recovery and Development Agency launched a poll five months later to let residents decide between that concept and two others.

Last month, the agency announced the winner: a “classic modern” design that tied with the original and beat out a “West Indies” option.

Despite the tie, the Ministry of Communications and Works selected the new design over the original in part because of the resiliency of the proposed building and the availability of the necessary materials, the RDA stated.

Now, the German firm INROS Lackner, SE, the consultant hired to create the designs, will proceed with further development of the selected plan, according to the agency. “The RDA is elated to partner with the community on this endeavour as we continue on the road to recovery,” the agency stated.

Years of delays

Officials have said the terminal previously cleared about 40 percent of all arrivals into the Virgin Islands before it was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017, but successive governments had been promising a new terminal for more than a decade by that time.

The largest plan, costed at $40 million, was proposed in 2010 under a Virgin Islands Party-led government in which Andrew Fahie, who represented West End and the rest of the First District, served as minister of education and culture.

But after the National Democratic Party came to power in 2011, then-Communications and Works Minister Mark Vanterpool said the project would be scaled back dramatically. In 2013, he proposed a facility costing just under $5 million, but those plans never got off the ground either. In 2014, the BVI Ports Authority issued a tender notice seeking a $3 million terminal in West End, but no updates followed before Irma.

After Irma

About four months after Irma destroyed the existing terminal, then-Premier Dr. Orlando Smith said the VI branch of international architecture firm OBMI had offered to donate its time towards drawing up architecture and engineering designs for a new facility.

But a new VIP administration took office in February 2019 with Mr. Fahie at the helm, and OBMI was not mentioned two months later when RDA officials announced a plan to partner with a private donor who would cover at least half the cost of a 27,000-square-foot, multi-level building with the capacity to process at least 200 passengers per hour and two ferries at once.

That collaboration, however, also fell through without explanation, and in July 2020 government announced new plans to use a portion of the $65 million Caribbean Development Bank recovery loan to build the terminal.

About a year later, Mr. Fahie told the HOA that a $1,048,909 contract had been awarded to INROS for the design and construction management of the project, and that a separate contract for the construction would be selected through the RDA.

Last February, INROS, RDA and government officials unveiled the 12,000-square-foot “futuristic and organic” design, and Mr. Fahie promised that an international tender process would follow soon with the aim of starting construction in July. But Mr. Fahie was arrested last April in Florida on drug-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracy charges, and the poll was launched last July instead.