[Updated with video + PLP response] The Desarrollos Hotelco Group, the developers for the planned St. George’s resort, have “reached agreement in principle on all of their financing arrangements,” Minister of Tourism Development & Transport Shawn Crockwell said, adding that they are “hoping for ground breaking no later than June of this year.”
Speaking at a press conference today, Minister Crockwell said, “I am pleased to announce that the Desarrollos Hotelco Group, the developers for the St. George’s resort, has reached agreement in principle on all of their financing arrangements for this historic development.
“Financing with an International bank is progressing toward completion with all normal, required documentation to be finalized over the next few weeks.
“Desarrollos are expected to return to Bermuda next month to sign the ground leases with the Ministry of Public Works and to also sign documents with regard to the financing.
“I am happy to report that Desarrollos are being proactive on planning issues and are working closely with the Department of Planning with respect to the designs for the St. George’s resort.
“The developers intend to meet with the residents of St. George’s and lay out their plans and address any concerns they may have. This will be a collaborative process.
“We are hoping for ground breaking no later than June of this year. Desarrollos have engaged local architects and construction companies as it relates to this project.
“As you may recall, the Government of Bermuda has a Master Development Agreement [MDA] with Hotelco Bermuda Holding Ltd., a subsidiary of the Desarollos Hotelco Group.
“We have identified an anomaly within the MDA, which speaks to a maximum of three designated sites. That is not correct.
“The Casino Gaming Act actually references a maximum of three Casino Licenses; there are no limits on the amount of resort sites that can be designated as a future casino site.
“Obviously this will depend on how many applications we receive and if the applicant meets the criteria. Depending on the number and quality of applications, there can be more than three designated sites.
“I think that it is important to have this clarified and as a result, a small but important change will be made in the MDA to appropriately reflect the intentions of the Act.”
Update 9.16pm: Shadow Tourism Minister Jamahl Simmons said, “Today’s announcement that the Dessarolos Group has reached an agreement in principle on their financing is welcome news. With over 2000 jobs lost since 2013 and a 48 year low in air arrivals, many Bermudians are looking for good news that results in good jobs and opportunities to provide for their families.
“Bermudians in general and the people of St. George’s in particular have been waiting a long time for progress on this project. Now it is important that the government not only get shovels in the ground but ensure that Bermudians are the ones with their hands on the shovels and in leadership roles.
“We anticipate that the Department of Workforce Development will, in due course, be liaising with the developer to ensure that the capable, qualified, unemployed Bermudians are well positioned to take advantage of potential opportunities at this site.
“As we welcome this news, the PLP remains committed not just to the putting Bermudians first in jobs and opportunities at this property, but also to the preservation of community access to the beach. With its historical significance and the deep connection to many east end residents, this must continue to be open and accessible.”