By all appearances, the Government of The Bahamas, recognizing it could be faced by another “desperate” situation, is set to mediate the building battle between two investor groups, each with a high interest in West End.
On Saturday, Senator Kwasi Thompson, the Minister of State in the Grand Bahama Office of the Prime Minister, responded to a Freeport News article that exposed the conflict between the two investing parties.
Property encroachment looks to be the crux of the matter as the current owners of the vibrant Old Bahama Bay Resort, and Skyline Investments (Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions Limited), both have earmarked expanded projects that could greatly stimulate the economy of the west sector and indeed all of Grand Bahama, by extension.
“We are aware of some issues which have arisen between these developers and have encouraged both developers to work together in the best interests of their respective projects and the people of West End. We want them to work together to make the redevelopment of West End a success,” said Thompson.
John MacDonald, who is the president of the island Ventures Resort & Club, of which Old Bahama Bay is a subsidiary, complained to The Freeport News about the lack of substantive interaction with the Government of the Bahamas, relevant to significant issues that he feels ought to be addressed.
“I questioned as to how the Bahamas Government could be so negligent in their investigation of what actually is under contract,” said MacDonald.
The Freeport News under-stands there is a particular area in question between Old Bahama Bay proper, and the property holding of the former Ginn Sur Mer entity. Thompson acknowledged that a grey property ownership area possibly exists, but, expressed optimism that “all will be fine” and he pointed out that the bigger point, to him, is the presence of two investor bodies seeking to bring substantive development and many job situations to West End.
“The area of West End needs development as the Ginn project has been stagnant for some time. I am aware of two projects which are proposed for West End. The $2.5 billion project which is being proposed by Skyline Investments, has the potential to transform not just the community but the island of Grand Bahama. It is a very significant project for our island. I am also aware of an expansion project which is proposed by the Old Bahama Bay Condo Owners and Island Ventures Resort & Club. The Condo owners’ expansion project also has the potential to positively impact the West End Community.
“It is actually good news that there are two developers who have proposed projects which can significantly benefit the people of West End and improve the island of Grand Bahama. This signifies that West End is poised for rebirth. It also confirms our belief that investor interest and confidence has increased. I am pleased and encouraged by the interest shown by both developers, as we want development in West End, Grand Bahama,” further stated Minister of State Thompson.
He directed a comment, as well, to the concerns previously expressed by employees of Old Bahama Bay, who a while back claimed to have had an unpleasant experience with an individual, said, to be representing Skyline Investments. In a communication provided The Freeport News, the employees Lamented any situation whereby Bahamian workers are disrespected in their “own country.”
“The government is focused on ensuring that the existing employees are protected and their employment is preserved,” said Thompson to that aspect of the feud.
To many, the situation had been seen to be handled by the government in a one-sided manner. The government’s focus on Skyline Investments (Grand Palm Beach/Acquisitions) indeed had the appearance of upstaging the presence of Old Bahama Bay, a present operation that employs substantive workers and networks with contract vendors in the neighborhood of 100 persons, impacting directly the economy of West Grand Bahama.
State Minister Thompson, in his exclusive statement to The Freeport News, sought to allay fears of the Old Bahama Bay employees and the wider population in West Grand Bahama.
“The people of Grand Bahama and West End in particular, can rest assured that this (Prime Minister Dr. Hubert) Minnis Administration will act in their best interest,” he concluded.