Ground Breaks On Baha Mar Development
NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Government will continue to work with Baha Mar to implement the agreement towards successful development of the $2.6 billion resort on Cable Beach, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Brent Symonette said. He was addressing the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the project held Monday, February 21, 2011, on the beach side of the former Nassau Beach Hotel.
“Cable Beach has long been an integral part of The Bahamas’ tourism establishment. The ongoing commitment of Baha Mar to the success of this project to redevelop this area is clear and certainly bodes well for our collective efforts to ensure the dynamism, versatility and ongoing success of our tourism industry,” Mr. Symonette said.
He said that the moment represented the culmination of a “long, painstaking process and the rebirth of a critically important part of the Bahamian tourism establishment.”
The project is the brainchild of Sarkis Izmirlian, chairman and chief executive officer of Baha Mar Resorts Ltd., who has partnered with the China Export Import Bank and the China State Construction Engineering Corporation to build what is touted as the largest luxury resort in the region.
“As we are aware, this project has faced numerous challenges since the signing of the initial Heads of Agreement with the government in April 2005,” Mr. Symonette said.
“These challenges have included the withdrawal of the initial joint venture partners in the project, as well as the dramatic and prolonged downturn in the global economy, which has had a major impact on resort development in The Bahamas and other parts of the world.”
Conclusion of the financing agreement in March 2010 with the China Export Import Bank and the China State Construction and Engineering Corporation, following additional negotiations, the government and Baha Mar concluded all the necessary agreements on January 31, 2011. And to accommodate the project, work has begun on the re-routing of West Bay Street and the a new road corridor to link West Bay Street to J F Kennedy Drive, Mr. Symonette said.
“The details of the Baha Mar Cable Beach Redevelopment Project have been painstakingly negotiated between the government and Baha Mar to ensure a well-received and hence successful development for the investors in and operators of Baha Mar.
“The government and its agencies will continue to work with Baha Mar to achieve the implementation of the agreements concluded and thus a successful development,” he said.
It has also been agreed that the value of construction works be awarded to Bahamian contractors and sub-contractors totalling $400 million. The works will include but not limited to site work, the convention centre, the Hyatt timeshare villas, restaurants, a casino, a golf course, retail shops, bars, landscaping and irrigation, specialty walks and pool decks amongst other amenities.
An estimated 4,500 Bahamians will be engaged on the project during construction, which has already begun. Mr. Izmirlian said the project is being launched during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, but that he never lost sight of his dream. He encouraged Bahamians to take advantage of the opportunities to continue to build their country.
His Excellency Hu Dingxian, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China thanked the government for assisting in this “golden boy” to be born at the right time and with the right people.
“We should make every effort to make the pie of the world economy bigger and share the benefits with each other, and we can only develop and achieve win-win results through cooperation and partnership,” he said.
Senator the Hon. Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace also participated in the groundbreaking ceremony, as well as Li Ruogu, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of China. The guests were treated to a Chinese Lion Dance Performance and Junkanoo Rush-out.
By Lindsay Thompson
Bahamas Information Services