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Gin Sur Mer negotiations soldier on

Investors in the multi-million-dollar Ginn Sur Mer resort have come together to try to decide on the direction and new format of the project, MP for West End Obie Wilchcombe has confirmed to Guardian Business.

It comes as constituents in the Grand Bahama area voice concerns about the viability of the project continuing on the island. Wilchcombe said he was aware of ongoing meetings between partial owner Bobby Ginn and Credit Suisse in an effort to iron out any issues that may be lingering.

“My constituents are deeply concerned because many have lost jobs[and]we did a lot to get Ginn ready,”he said.”The players, I believe, have come to the table, Ginn being one of them and the bank. I believe they are sitting and talking and trying to work out an arrangement.

“I was assured by them that they’ve invested a lot of money in the area and they are not going to walk away from their investment now. So I believe it’s still going to happen, it just may take a different route.”

The statement comes as occupancy at the existing Old Bahama Bay Resort runs at relatively low levels, with Wilchcombe asserting that the$15 million to$20 million dredge of the harbor in that area is necessary for improvement.

It’s a feature, he believes, will be more attractive to visitors coming in and could act as an incentive to Grand Bahama travel.

“It’s just a matter of us staying focused,”he added.”I believe if we concentrate on it you can see how we can diversify our tourism product and offer new and exciting places for tourists to visit. The reasons[the Ginn developers]came to The Bahamas in the first place is still there. It’s one of the most beautiful places and Grand Bahama is still virgin territory when it comes to tourists.

“All we need to ensure now is that there is airlift and that vessels continue to arrive in future months.”

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham recently confirmed that the owners of the Ginn Sur Mer development in West End were in the process of making plans for that project and intended to change its name. He noted that the Ginn project had gone into bankruptcy, with the bank taking over part of the property.

“The owner of the other part-who is not Mr. Bobby Ginn like we thought it was, we thought Mr. Bobby Ginn was the owner-he is not the owner,”said Ingraham.

“I saw the owners last week. They are making some plans for the development down in West End. I don’t want to make any announcements for them, but they do not want to be known as Ginn anymore. They are going to call themselves Old Bahama Bay.”

The deal for the Ginn Development was signed back in December 2005 for the development of 4,400 condominium/hotel units, 870 single family residential home sites, two championship golf courses and clubhouses, two large marinas, a private airport, casino, swimming pools and water park facilities, tennis complexes, beach clubs and spas over 2,000 acres in West End.

In January 2007, Ginn Resorts announced that it had finalized its purchase of the neighboring Old Bahama Bay Resort.

Recently, Project manager Derek Gape noted that the$20 million per year spent on promotions at the onset of the project were worth it, bringing in$175 million in sales for the 194 properties.

Ginn is now between$400 million and 500 million in on the project, but if additional capital is not sourced soon it could come to a standstill once the infrastructure is completed.

“I’ve been assured that this property is not a part of any charge that’s been brought against him(Bobby Ginn),”Gape said.

“There’s a lot of things out there that have been said about him, a lot of suits against him. Well, he’s a big target and the mentality is that people will go after a big target, but the record also will show that there is absolutely no charge on this property against Bobby Ginn.”

Gape acknowledged that there are charges against Credit Suisse, but maintained that has nothing to do with Ginn.

“This(project)is exposed to Credit Suisse in the sense that… there’s a lawsuit against Credit Suisse out there and the suit is that because they have foreclosed on some properties here the people bringing the suit are claiming,’Since you are now the owner then you must now put on the hat that Bobby Ginn has on his head and you need to build us a hotel.’To my knowledge that was never a commitment on their part but people have presented this case against Credit Suisse.”

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