SDO tabled allowing expansion of Tucker's Point
Rosewood Tucker's Point was granted in-principle planning approval yesterday to extend its five star resort.
Minister of Environment Walter Roban tabled a special development order (SDO) in Parliament in the morning.
It is expected to be debated in the House of Assembly this parliamentary session.
If it passes and receives final approval from the Department of Planning, the owners will be able to build an additional 78 private residents and 70 hotel rooms the 240-acre resort.
Hotel president Ed Trippe said the SDO was critical to the financial viability of the property.
Once it is approved they will be able to extend their loan with HSBC.
The bank is the property's senior lending, having granted it an $85 million loan for the initial construction.
Mr Trippe added that it was one of the main reasons ultra-luxury hotel management company Rosewood came on board.
They will manage the property and help market it.
Unlike previous SDOs the Rosewood Tucker's Point proposal must first be passed by affirmative resolution in the House of Assembly.
Mr Roban said: “SDOs are regarded, by their critics, as a way to circumvent the normal planning process, but they are, in fact, an important tool for the Minister to respond to strategic, national issues and to the development needs of the day.
“The Tucker's Point Resort residential development is one of those developments which urgently needs an SDO.
“I wish to highlight that the Ministry is handling this in an extremely transparent manner, including tabling it in the Legislature for debate and granting in-principle approval only, rather than final approval, thereby requiring the developer to satisfy the Department of Planning before final approval is granted.”
The SDO will only last ten years, he added. Once that time has elapsed the resort would have to apply for a new one if it has not finished all three stages of development.
Tourism Minister Patrice Minors said: “Our hotel product is of national importance. Its success is vital to every facet of our community.
“Its success is vital to our residents who work in the tourism industry.
“And its success is important to the stakeholders who offer services in the industry, such as our restaurateurs, sports and leisure operators, taxi drivers, retail stores… the list is endless.
“Tucker's Point is a shining example of the new hope for the development of Bermuda's hotel product.”
It is the third SDO the property has received in the last 16 years.
Mr Trippe said he believed they have proven that work hard to preserve the environmental procedures during construction.
“Our record is exemplary [with SDOs],” he said. “We have a large number of caves on our property on Ship's Hill, during the last period of construction we wouldn't let cement trucks drive over them in case we damaged them.
“Every quarter someone goes down and inspects the caves to make sure no changes have occurred. Since its inception ten years ago, Tucker's Point's success has been built on a sound public/private partnership.
“Tucker's Point was the beneficiary of Government's first concession order in 2000 which granted tax and immigration relief enabling the property to secure its initial financing from its Bermudian investors and lenders.
“With the two earlier SDOs in 1995 and 2001, Tucker's Point demonstrated its respect for the land and its environment.”
The Bermuda National Trust is extremely shocked that an SDO had been granted for developments on pristine hills in Castle Harbour.
Executive Director Jennifer Gray said: “These lands are protected by a myriad of legislation which reflects the area's nature as part of an extensive tract of open space that supports important ecology, large woodlands, recreation land and provides amenity value beyond measure.”