The former Palm Grove Shopping Centre was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. All that remains today is its foundation. (Photo: DANA KAMPA)

Government still aims to rebuild the Palm Grove Shopping Centre, but it is currently in talks with leaseholders who operated on the property before it was destroyed by Hurricane Irma, according to Communications and Works Minister Kye Rymer.

Seventeen leaseholders, he said, still have a stake in the property.

“So we are now where we are speaking with the lawyers pertaining to the way forward to their rights and what is to be done with the lease that they hold for the space at the Palm Grove centre,” Mr. Rymer said last Thursday in response to questions from opposition member Myron Walwyn in the House of Assembly.

Centre’s history

Built in 1974, the shopping centre was a one-level building that occupied 0.43 acres of land, he said. Its 17 tenants included businesses ranging from restaurants and salons to a laundromat, pharmacy, and retail outlets.

The centre sustained extensive damage during Irma in 2017, which resulted in the loss of the entire roof and destruction of the tenant spaces, according to the minister.

After that, Royal Navy engineers from the United Kingdom determined the centre to be unsafe due to asbestos, and it was eventually demolished and removed.

The building, he added, was not insured.

“In the absence of having insurance, a decision was made to redevelop the centre through a public-private partnership initiative,” he said. “The terms of reference were developed and the tender process was launched. The ministry has considered the future development of the centre and is seeking a comprehensive look at the benefits of constructing a multi-level building.”

Expressions of interest

In December 2019, government invited expressions of interest for the designing, financing, and building of the redevelopment. At the time, a target completion date of 2022 was announced.

Cabinet later decided to award a contract to Meridian Construction Company for the project subject to an unpublished agreement concerning the existing leases.

But in June 2022, Cabinet rescinded that decision and decided instead that a new tender process should be launched, according to the Cabinet Office.

The Beacon, however, has found no evidence that this new tender process ever got under way.


Meanwhile, government officials have been meeting with the property’s leaseholders, Mr. Rymer said last week.

“The former minister, Mark Vanterpool, met with the leaseholders prior to me taking office and him leaving,” he said. “And in addition, my ministry in 2020 invited all of the leasees to a meeting to discuss the pending intentions and plans for the property.”

According to the minister,government is aiming to cometo an “amicable agreement” withthe leaseholders under the territory’s leasehold laws.