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2004-08-13 15:41:31

Moon Bahamas Creators Explain Plans For The Project

Creators of the MOON Bahamas project described their concept as a potential architectural masterpiece and building it in the middle of the ocean was the only way to ensure that it is seen in all its glory.

Talking to the press on an individual basis, Michael Henderson, chairman of RJH Holdings, the creators of MOON Bahamas said that the project like its muse needed a vast sea emptiness. "Sometimes master pieces have to be seen on their own where they are free of clutter." Mr. Henderson explained this as the reason the group decided not to go forward with Las Vegas, the initial site looked at for the futuristic resort themed concept.

"There's not a lot of space left and wherever we would have ended up putting the resort one's eye would have been taken to other projects that would have been close to it," he said adding that this presented a major problem in having Las Vegas as the location as "not all the architecture that is there is particularly nice."

After that, the creators of The MOON conceptualised the idea of building an island and went to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, who were building the Palm islands at that time. The Palm is the location for the second Atlantis project to be completed in 2007.

According to the RJH chairman, Dubai would not work, as a location because of the absence of gaming laws. Building the world's largest casino was an integral part of the project. From there the project creators moved to Thailand which seemed to have everything except gaming laws but this was expected to change within the next six months. Thailand seemd to be the spot until Gerry Wirth, now The Bahamas representative for the project, convinced them to come and look at Grand Bahama in January.

"We came here and fell in love, saw the sight, saw the water, met the people," Sandra Matthews, director of RJH Holdings said. "The infrastructure was in place in Freeport; we met the Grand Bahama Port Authority (and) the chemistry was there."

Although The Bahamas was not the first site looked at, Mr. Henderson quickly dispelled ideas that it may not be the last. He quickly pointed out that with the other locations RJH had never settled on them as fully as it had The Bahamas. "This technically is the first location that we have said this is where it's going to be. We can think of no reason now as to why this project won't work extremely well in Grand Bahama," he said.

He also answered the incessant questions on why build additional islands in a country that already has so many by patiently explaining that it would be impossible to find an island in the exact shape one might want and attempting to mold an existing island to fit the MOON concept could mean displacing residents and ripping the land apart, which he added would be costly and rather unattractive. "It's actually less expensive and easier to create it out of the ocean," Mr. Henderson said.

The MOON creator was quick to point out however that, enormous care would be taken to protect one of the most important assets to the local tourism sector, the ocean. He said that for the project to be successful it would be in the best interest to keep the water as pristine and blue as it currently is. He said that in addition to conducting a feasibility study, which would assess the environmental and economic impact, the project creators and consultants would also work very closely with the BEST Commission and in every case attempt to exceed their guidelines.

Commenting briefly on his relationship with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Mr. Henderson said he met with them in March and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with them a few weeks ago. He refused however to divulge further information about the relationship. The MOON creators also met with Minister of Financial Services and Investments, Allyson Maynard-Gibson and are waiting for MOU with them before they begin the feasibility study.

Mr. Henderson said that once this is done the feasibility study would be completed in eight months to a year immediately after which construction of the islands would begin. He predicted that the islands would take 18 months to build. RJH would also begin selling the vast proposed real estate holdings of the project during this time.

While he admitted that the project would need financing going forward, Mr. Henderson was deliberately vague on which form this would take revealing only that the project would be ran by investment banking groups out of New York and London. He also pointed out that with the vast real estate developments the project was comprised of, RJH might actually not need further funding as the project would be able to pay for itself. RJH Holding was created five years ago solely for the MOON project.

While he was free with information on the project, Mr. Henderson and Ms Matthews were not as liberal with information about themselves. Other than his place of birth, Northern Ireland and his present home, Vancouver, Canada, he remained very vague even describing his previous employments as general marketing management and sales.

"The project is not about RJH Holdings and its not about Michael Henderson or Sandra Matthews," he said. "We are not people with large egos trying to build a monument to ourselves. Our goal is to bring the MOON to earth and it just so happen that we were fortunate to find Grand Bahama so now our goal is to bring the MOON to Grand Bahama...The project must stand on its own feet and its all about the moon itself and what the moon means to people." He did admit to The Guardian however that this was his first real estate development project.

Sharing a little of the design of the futuristic resort concept, Ms. Matthews said that a 400 feet replica of the moon housing the casino and other resort activities along with the hotel would be housed on one island. A middle island built in the shape of a circle would display the PGA golf course with condominiums surrounding the perimeter and three additional islands would circle the centre island in the form of craters. These would also exclusively hold condominiums.

Martella Matthews, The Nassau Guardian

 
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