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Ground broken at Mt Wynne; developer also eyeing Buccament

Ground broken at Mt Wynne; developer also eyeing Buccament

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Ground was broken yesterday for the US$60 million Black Sands Resort and Villas at Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope, with the principal developer Joseph Romano promising not to restrict access to the beach for locals.

Romano, in his address to the ceremony also gave his word that locals would be hired during both the construction and operations phases of the project, with there being opportunities for upward mobility for workers employed at the resort. He pledged that fishermen and farmers would be respected and sought after and that a training facility would be established for employees of the resort.

The 400-room project, which is described in promotional material as a “supreme all-inclusive luxury resort,” will be developed by Pace Development, a company based in Toronto, Canada.

But the Canadian developers also have their eyes on the nearby failed Buccament Bay Resort.

Speaking on the OMG radio morning programme on Boom 106.9 FM on Wednesday, Romano said that despite the closure of the resort, it is still a “great opportunity” for another developer to take up.

Explaining that he has already expressed his interest in an “indirect and informal way” to the Government, Romano said:”I didn’t get an official response. However, I think there are a lot of legal technicalities in the foreclosure or bankruptcy… So, when that gets cleared up, I am definitely going to put a bid in for it!”

He further said that the resort’s closure has not deterred Pace Development from moving forward with their project at Peter’s Hope and the company has already been exploring its options should it ever win a bid for Buccament Bay Resort.

“If you’re not in that business and you don’t know how to manage it properly, and how to develop and build it properly, any business could fail under the right circumstances,” he pointed out.

Romano said that the company has already been in talks with Red Tag, one of Canada’s largest vacation package companies, which has committed to filling the Buccament Bay Resort, should Pace Development acquire it.

“They would easily fill up Buccament Bay for us, starting as soon as we can get it.”

The project should take 24 months to complete

Romano also estimated that it would take the company approximately 24 months to complete the Black Sands Resort at Peter’s Hope, with the project estimated at an overall US$60 million.

“With the launch of the new airport, I think that it’s going to really take off internationally, and I think a lot of investment is going to come. So, me being one of the first people to start a bigger hotel development with villas, I think it’s a smart move business-wise.”

Pace Development purchased 37 acres of land for this project, at a cost of EC$7 million, with negotiations to buy the land taking two years to complete.

“The Government was very firm in their negotiations with us… There was a lot involved, a lot of legal jargon that needed to get worked out and the Government was well represented by their in-house attorneys… It’s not an easy project… It all checked out very well,” explained Romano.

Black Sands will have 200 rooms and 50 “very high-end” villas, of which eight have already been reserved for local buyers.

The resort will also have a movie theatre, a club, bar lounge, high class restaurants (which will be open to the public), swimming pools and a health rehabilitation clinic.

Romano also asserted that the black sand will be kept at the resort, instead of bringing in white sand. He explained that this is because black sand has “therapeutic” properties, and in his opinion is also “beautiful to look at”.

Construction to begin immediately

Following yesterday’s ground breaking at Peter’s Hope, clearing of the land will begin immediately, along with the installation of services (sewerage, water, electricity etc).

During his interview on Boom 106.9 SVG’s morning programme, the Canadian developer acknowledged that many Vincentians are concerned about future beach access, given the situation between locals and developers in Canouan.

“Public access is not going to be affected, and we encourage public access to our beaches. We’re only going to take up about 200 feet… on the corner, right near the mountain [at Peter’s Hope beach], so the public access is not going to be touched. It’s not even ours.”

He further emphasized that not only would beach access not be hindered, the road access to the beach would not be affected either. In addition, he explained that his development would not affect the access to beaches at Mt Wynne in any way.

He gave assurances that both the construction phase of this project and the operation of the resort will benefit many Vincentians in terms of employing a wide range of persons, thereby “significantly” reducing unemployment.

“We’re going to do what we say and say what we do. We have the funding, the experience and the pedigree. We are not going to have a Dave Ames situation here!”

Also speaking at yesterday’s ceremony was Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Deputy Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker, chief executive officer of Roraima Airways Captain Gerald Gouveia and Paul Anthony Bowman, a Vincentian residing in Canada, who stated his intention to invest in the project by buying five of the villas.

At yesterday’s ceremony, about six persons, including Luzette King, the leader of the pressure group known as the ‘Front Line,’ held placards and staged a silent protest.(JSV)

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