Baha Mar takes off
One hundred and fifty jobs have already been created on the Baha Mar project, which has been billed as the”largest single resort development in the Caribbean”, according to Baha Mar President Don Robinson.
Robinson spoke to the media after the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Cable Beach development yesterday.
He said as the project intensifies in the coming months, more Bahamians will be employed.
Robinson noted that the first phase of the project commenced about two weeks ago with$60 million in contracts awarded to Bahamian contractors and subcontractors.
“That$60 million will cover approximately 9 to 12 months of work. So each week you’ll see the number growing,”he said.
Roberts Sands,Baha Mar’s senior vice president of governmental and external affairs,added that the majority of the Chinese laborers who will work on the development will begin coming in the 18th month of construction.
It is expected that a total of 8,150 foreigners will work on the project. However, no more than 5,000 will work on the site at one time.
Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian said the developers will create something”that only exists in dreams.”He noted that the groundbreaking is the culmination of years of challenging twists.
In 2005, the Christie administration signed heads of agreement with Baha Mar. However, subsequent to that, the initial joint venture partners withdrew from the agreement. This was followed by a prolonged global economic downturn.
Izmirlian said the groundbreaking sends a clear message that not only is The Bahamas open for business but it will lead the region out of a recession. He added that it represents the birth of a new generation of destination resorts.
“The world has never seen what we are going to create,”he said.
Speaking to the media afterward, Izmirlian said the country is very lucky to have such a project realized on its shores.
“I think we’re extremely lucky. I live here and I want to make sure that this country is successful and prosperous,”he said.
“It’s not just the Caribbean. There is nothing like this right now being built anywhere in the world. And the whole world right now is watching that our partners from the Peoples Republic of China chose The Bahams to invest these sums of money.
“Now these would be large sums at any time, but in the current economic crisis these are staggering. So it’s a vote of confidence for the project and a vote of confidence for the people of The Bahamas.”
Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said the project will also help to boost the country’s image and further promote The Bahamas as a premier tourism destination.
“When people look at what is happening, they will know there is something very special about The Bahamas,” he said.
Vanderpool-Wallace thanked Robinson for putting the country in the minds of people across the world.
As previously reported, the Baha Mar project will comprise six hotels with approximately 3,500 rooms and condominiums; an approximately 100,000 square foot casino; 200,000 square feet of convention facilities; a 20-acre beach and pool experience; an 18-hole golf course; a 60,000 square foot retail village; and additional residential products.
Vanderpool-Wallace pointed out that the start of the project comes as the first phase of the Lynden Pindling International Airport redevelopment comes to an end. The official opening will be held on Friday.
“This is going to be a most significant week in the history of The Bahamas,”the minister said.
“It is the perfect bookends to a week that is going to be an amazing one that I think we’ll remember for a long period of time.”
Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette noted that the project will kick off the redevelopment of Cable Beach.
“This moment represents the culmination of a long painstaking process, and the beginning of the redevelopment and rebirth of a critically important part of the Bahamian tourism establishment,”Symonette said.
“As we are all aware, this project has faced numerous challenges since the signing of the initial heads of agreement with the government in 2005.”
Symonette congratulated the developers for their fortitude.
“Cable Beach has long been an integral part of The Bahamas’tourism establishment,”he said.
“The ongoing commitment of Bah 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.”