- by Mac
Decorative geometrical design cut into the steelwork of one of the wings
There was an obvious reason for O'Brien to want the project completed by the end of December. The first anniversary of the earthquake would be on January 12, 2011, and Denis had every intention of adding the inauguration of the Phoenix-risen Iron Market to the list of events for that auspicious second Wednesday in January. As that day approached, everyone went into high overdrive on construction, artistic renovation, even the reestablishment of the merchandise market itself:
Already, hundreds of the original market merchants, registered after the 2008 fire and the quake by Mayor Jason's office, were lining up inside the market to reclaim their stalls. Mr. O'Brien wanted them at the inauguration. (ibid.)
- by Mac
The south wing or hall
Inside the south hall after hours, where hundreds of vendors ply their trades during the work day.
Finally the great day came. Not everything was completed, especially the ambitious solar energy system, but the Iron Market was, for all extensive purposes, up and running and open for business. Good Irish luck would also have it that there is an Associated Press video of the inauguration on YouTube:
Enter Another Dennis, Dennis Mee
The resurrected Iron Market is cutting edge/state-of-the-art in many of its features, not the least of which is its energy system. Denis O'Brien realized that in a nation with a badly beaten up electrical grid and riddled with daily brownouts and blackouts, not to mention the ongoing instability of oil and gas markets globally, that going solar and thus energy-efficient Green might be a really frugal move, as well as being environmental-friendly.
I myself have had to suffer through sitting in my hotel room or out on the bar patio in Port-au-Prince, writing or conversing, when suddenly the electricity goes out, not once a day, but repeatedly. So why would anyone with any business sense want to pump millions into rebuilding an edifice and then have it be dependent on that kind of system. So O'Brien's people contacted Dennis Mee, president of a well-respected solar products sales and installation company out of Florida that has been installing systems in the Caribbean, Coronado Custom Homes Solar Division.
Dennis Mee at 6:00 AM in Port-au-Prince, already up and ready for work.
Dennis, left and rearmost, with his Coronado Solar work crew.
Dennis had already run into Georgianne Nienaber, my colleague on this trip, and she, well-aware of my interest in the Iron-Market, had jotted down his contact info and we became corresponding as to when I could get a tour of the resurrected edifice. We finally settled on late Monday afternoon after we had completed our other journeys for the day, and Andre, after we had dropped Georgianne off at the hotel so she could work on an article, maneuvered me across town to that same locale that I had visited some nine plus months earlier, an area still rather torn up from the earthquake, but showing more signs of recovery and reconstruction:
A cleared city block near the Iron Market with a JLG or High Lift in the background, used in construction.
We parked and wondered into the compound, our gazes turning skyward at the following breath-taking sight:
The tiny figure in the yellow tee-shirt on the right underneath the clock tower and minarets is Dennis, supervising some work.
The base of the two minarets on the north side.