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Chaguanas – Trinidad’s fastest growing town

Published Thursday 29th July, 2004

We are starting a two-part look at Chaguanas—Trinidad’s fastest growing town. When one considers the extent and quality of the developments there, it is easy to understand why some people call Chaguanas the “new capital of Trinidad.”

The first in the series will set out some of the main factors acting to propel and limit those developments.

The second article will outline some of the main challenges facing the borough in the medium-term as the effects of current developments take root.

Chaguanas is certainly the capital of central Trinidad and it is arguably also the shopping capital of the entire country.

Apart from the busy Chaguanas Main Road, shoppers also have several malls to choose— the Mid-Centre Mall, Centre Pointe Mall, Centre City Mall, PriceSmart/Price Plaza and the Food Basket complex.

Its location— along the Solomon Hochoy Highway between Port-of-Spain and San Fernando, with easy access to the Couva/Point Lisas district—is key to understanding the character and pace of Chaguanas’ development.

The supply of land in Chaguanas is not as large as first appearances would suggest, since large parts of the surrounding land are in State ownership via Caroni. As a result of that, there is great competition for the limited available land with steep price increases being a consequence.

We were able to have easy reference to the March 2001 Udecott Chaguanas Local Area Plan to gather some of the basic data for this article. This is available online at
http://www.nalis.gov.tt/InterimReportChaguanas.html

A copy of the Chaguanas Borough Council’s “Chaguanas Development Plan 1997-1998—A Vision for the New Chaguanas” is also available from Udecott, regrettably not on online.

If we are really committed to doing better in the future, it is essential that these documents be readily available.

Some of the positive factors influencing Chaguanas’ development are:

  • Population:

In complete contrast to PoS, Chaguanas’ population is increasing significantly. The two are feeding off each other in that the rapidly-increasing property prices in PoS and its western districts have made it impossible for most middle-income families to afford homes in these areas.

Large parts of the East/West Corridor are fast becoming unreachable for this group and this is driving many younger families to buy the more affordable homes now available in the Chaguanas area.

One could see this as a kind of trade in that PoS has “exported” those workers who could afford to move all in order to free its land for more lucrative development, whilst retaining the services of many of them.

Chaguanas, for its part, has “imported” new residents with their spending power in the process becoming a kind of “dormitory suburb” for the East/West Corridor.

The data shows an overall increase across the district, including the original settlements in the town. The Chaguanas district includes Lange Park, Orchard Gardens Felicity, Charlieville, Longdenville, Carlsen Field and parts of Cunupia.

The population growth is set out in the sidebar. It is true that a number of these new residents work elsewhere but their spending power plays a key role in the other aspects of the growth in Chaguanas.

The presence of these new consumers has added a substantial impetus to the already strong retail sector in Chaguanas.

Changes in Property Values

Property 2000 Value 2004 Value
Commercial Land at Mulchan Seuchan Road $60 psf $225psf
Orchard Gardens model home - 3 Beds 1 Bath $250,000 $500,000
Edinburgh 500 model home - 3 Beds 1 Bath $190,000 $400,000
Homeland Gardens model home - 3 Beds 1 Bath $170,000 $350,000

 

Changes in population levels

1980 1990 2000 2020 (estimate)
59,000 78,000 91,000 126,000
  • Traffic:

Like most of our busy towns the constant heavy traffic is an unavoidable feature of central Chaguanas and the projected population increase would only make this worse if the transport system is not modernised.

The borough would certainly benefit from the development of some sort of traffic hub for taxis and maxis—like City Gate—to ease some of the constant heavy traffic in the centre of Chaguanas. This is yet another aspect of the infrastructure deficit.

  • Pattern of development:

The borough is also exhibiting some of the characteristics of PoS in terms of the heavy traffic and limited development options in its traditional centre.

These have driven the new, large and high-quality developments to the eastern outskirts of the centre.

Some of these would include Republic Bank’s centralised operations centre and the new UTC building on Mulchan Seuchan Road, the PriceSmart/Price Plaza development and Food Basket Plaza both at the Endeavour Road junction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway.

  • Parks:

The borough council and the other planning bodies need to ensure that there is enough attention given to the development of parks and recreation areas for the needs of the growing population.

Parks not only make a place beautiful to live, they can also increase property values and offer employment opportunities. Saith Park off the Chaguanas Main Road is already adding to the amenities in the area.

Afra Raymond - Property Matters

Chaguanas is certainly the capital of central Trinidad and it is arguably also the shopping capital of the entire country.