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$2.5 billion project for Grand Bahama

Outlining a $2.5 billion, 10-year deal to purchase and develop the former Ginn Sur Mer property on Grand Bahama, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis last night promised, “2018 will be a year of growth, investment, and new jobs and economic opportunity.”

In a nationally broadcast address, Dr. Minnis focused heavily on economic developments “in the pipeline” for New Providence and Grand Bahama, as he detailed the work his administration has been engaged in on that front since coming to office last May.

As he admitted the country’s “economic recovery has a long way to go” and many Bahamians are still struggling and unemployment remains too high, Minnis said his government’s “major economic priorities are job creation, opportunities for entrepreneurship, business development, and promoting the ease of doing business in order to boost investment and improve productivity”.

In a major announcement, Minnis said an application to approve the purchase and development of the long dormant Grand Palm Beach property at West End, Grand Bahama at a cost of $2.5 billion, “is now before the National Economic Council (NEC) to approve in principle, and to authorize the relevant government agencies to negotiate a heads of agreement on an expeditious basis”.

“In 2008, the previous developer went into foreclosure and the government has now been advised that Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions Ltd. has entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement for the purchase of a large-scale resort known as ‘Ginn Sur Mer’ in the West End of Grand Bahama,” Minnis said.

“Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions Ltd. will construct, repair, revitalize, develop, and operate 246 rooms in three hotels, a banquet facility, 116 branded hotel residences, 1,000 other residences, a hotel/casino site, approximately 150,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a spa and wellness retreat, two marinas, an 18-hole golf course including driving range, an IFR-rated airport, a resort hospitality training academy, and an organic farm.

“Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions Ltd. intends to repair, revitalize, and develop the property to be known as ‘Bahama Bay’ in nine phases over a 10-year period with a projected expenditure of two billion five hundred and sixty million dollars.”

The Guardian understands that the deal is likely to be approved by the NEC, which is a sub-committee of Cabinet.

Minnis added, “The restoration of the economy of Grand Bahama is critical for the economic recovery of The Bahamas” and “our plan for Grand Bahama is well underway”.

The Bahama Bay project would complement the redevelopment of the planned redevelopment of the Lucayan strip, though Minnis cautioned that transaction is still under negotiations as the Wynn Group irons out the details of the purchase with owner Hutchinson Whampoa for the “private acquisition and management of the Grand Lucayan assets, including the hotels, the golf courses and the casino”.

“Although this transaction is far from completed, it would not be an exaggeration to say that we will have accomplished in a few months what was not done in a decade,” Minnis said.

“This year, we intend to complete the sale of the Grand Lucayan and Memories property.

“After they are reopened, the economy of Grand Bahama will improve significantly, including with a tremendous increase in employment and related business and economic opportunities.”

Briefly mentioning that “new investment in East Grand Bahama at the oil refinery, which will help to provide a number of jobs,” Minnis highlighted his intention to continue on his global investment tour with a view to the “development of Freeport as the focus of an offshore technology hub”.

“We have also successfully negotiated with Bahamas Paradise on the return of the Grand Celebration, and the introduction of a new vessel, the Grand Classica, which will bring additional stopover visitors to Grand Bahama,” he said.

“In conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, we negotiated additional airlift agreement with Sunwing, which should commence this year.”

Noting efforts to further relax exchange controls and streamline and speed up the business license process throughout the country, as well as waive business license fees for new businesses in 2018, Minnis touted Baha Mar’s continued growth with the previous opening of the Grand Hyatt towers, SLS, and the upcoming Rosewood hotel, coupled with its global marketing campaign launch late last year, as a boon to the economy.

He also noted other developments with existing major attractions, like the global re-branding of Atlantis, Paradise Island, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts taking over management of the One and Only Ocean Club Resort.

In addition to mentioning the 100-room Margaritaville resort at The Pointe in Nassau that was recently announced, Minnis also disclosed that a deal for the Wynn Group to develop a 118-unit condo-hotel project at Gold Blossom, on West Bay Street is in the pipeline.

The prime minister glossed over the possible redevelopment of downtown Nassau, claiming the government is planning to refurbish Festival Place and “examining plans for the complete redevelopment of Prince George Dock and the surrounding areas”.

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