The project, which is estimated to cost almost $500 million, will feature a state of the art world class facility on almost 600,000 square feet of building space on over 20 acres of land. The new JTA Supermarket is expected to occupy 50,000 sq feet at the centre making it the largest supermarket in the country.
At the C3 Centre’s Corinth, San Fernando sod turning ceremony last week, J T Allum managing director, Christopher Mack said the centre would “deliver a unique shopping and entertainment experience to the southland that will be the envy of other malls in the country.”
“C3 will have as its two key anchor tenants, JTA Supermarkets, south Trinidad leading supermarket chain, which will open its fifth branch at this location and Movietowne, the Caribbean leading entertainment brand, who will open an eight screen cineplex,’ Mack had announced.
In an interview at the company’s administrative offices at Carlton Centre, St James Street, San Fernando, Mack, who holds a Masters in Business Administration, (MBA), said the intention was to “grow” the family’s JTA supermarkets brand and “to look at inclusive of the C3 option, looking at other places in the country so at some point in time I think that JTA as a brand, supermarket, can do quite well in other parts of the country so the intention really is to become a national brand.”
Asked about the thinking behind the C3 concept, Mack said the idea began “a few years ago” when the group was approached by the Movietowne group who were looking for a location in south Trinidad.
“At the time they were looking at a south location, they were talking to two other developers and they liked our presentation in terms of location, in terms of accessability, in terms of visibility,’ he said.
“The spark was certainly to find a location where Movietowne could be a tenant and automatically we looked at out JTA supermarkets brand as being the next big anchor, together they are two very strong names,” Mack said.
Other entertainment attractions are expected to include US based Chuch-E-Cheese’s and the popular local Galactica brand for the older children.
“C3 will also offer a wide array of shopping in its fully air conditioned retail mall with popular local and foreign brands; it will also have a large mall food court and a themed outdoor courtyard with a wide selection of popular casual dining restaurants.
On weekends, this courtyard will be a hub of activity as visitors will enjoy live entertainment and performances,” Mack had stated.
At the sod turning ceremony, Mack had revealed that C3 would also embark on several green initiatives including the construction of extensive water retention ponds to recycle rain water, the use of natural gas, solar panels and the use of expansive skylights for energy saving purposes.
And asked to elaborate, he said the centre’s drainage system would channel the runoff water into either underground pipes or retention ponds and minimise the flooding of river and other water courses.
“We are trying a drainage system in place so that a lot of the water that would be falling would not be allowed to run completely into the river system and actually to be retained either through underground pipes or retention ponds whereby we can use that water, not necessarily for drinking water but there are a lot of uses whether use in the market or the mall, toilets,” he said, adding, “the dependency is not necessarily only on WASA so we have our civil engineers working on those solution.”
He said discussions had also been held with the NGC on the use of natural gas to power the several fast food restaurants which would also tenant the facility.
He said the centre would not be a “strip plaza” but fully air-conditioned, with “the only external area is really the restaurant area where you can sit outside, you have the choice, you can sit outside or inside.”
Asked whether the initiative could be described as a project conceived by the younger generation, he said the project had the input of both the second and third generations which were “very much working together” on the project.
“For us, we are a family that’s now transiting from the second generation to the third generation and the second generation is still very much involved,” he said, adding, “ in family owned companies, it is always important to have succession in place.”
“It’s very much a team effort, it’s a combination of the second and third generation very much working together, we are all very much involved in the planning of this project,” Mack said, adding, “We are confident that we have strong management.”
And regarding the family’s roots in south Trinidad, he observed that the company had originally begun as a partnership in 1934 and was “essentially running a grocery operation on 100 High Street, San Fernando’ which had been managed by his grandfather, Carlton Mack who had “come over as young man to Trinidad on behalf of the Allum family so he was essentially a regular employee and based on hard work, due diligence, he was essentially appointed the manager of that location.”
“He was very much involved in incorporating the company, 1943 was the official date whereby it was incorporated, so this year makes it our 70th anniversary as a company,” he said, adding his grandfather had acquired ‘full ownership’ of the company by the 1950’s from the Allum family, but ‘out of respect’ had kept the Allum family name.
“In the 1940s and the 50s, he grew the business, 1960s represented tremendous growth in the company, in the 1960s, you would have seen Carlton Centre, in those days, St James Street was very much isolated, it was around 1964, a landmark development and it was now the first credible mall in Trinidad at the time, the first substantial commercial development in the country,” he said.