Could this be Bermuda’s next hotel?

  • Grand Atlantic: A hotel is one of the uses being considered for the South Shore condo complex

    Grand Atlantic: A hotel is one of the uses being considered for the South Shore condo complex

The Grand Atlantic housing complex could be transformed into tourist accommodation similar to the Days Inn model.

The proposal is one of several that have been put to Government as it works to recoup the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on the failed project.

“Whatever proposals we get, I have absolutely no problem with keeping the public informed as this is the public purse and this is a public project,” Community Minister Wayne Scott said in an exclusive interview with The Royal Gazette.

“The fact of the matter is that this has cost the taxpayer upwards of $40 million. We have a depressed real estate market, we have a depressed economy, we have a bank note on some of these outstanding funds that this year will cost us $1.6 million just on interest.

“It’s not really something that we can afford.”

Government announced this week that the property would be marketed here and abroad, and that it could be turned into something other than a housing complex.

Said Mr Scott of the $700,00 price tag attached to each of the 78 units at the South Shore Warwick complex: “It’s not low-income housing which was the initial intent.”

A formal request for information will be published this week with responses “evaluated based on their merit”.

A decision will be made by this autumn, he said.

Mr Scott said that a Days Inn-style hotel “could very well be an option” but Government was also considering “rent-geared-to-income [homes] and a seniors’ housing complex”.

“These are all things that could be valid but talk is just talk and the fact of the matter is that the taxpayer cannot afford this,” he said. “We cannot afford to sit on it and do nothing, so let’s get formal requests in and put the talk to actionable plans — or not.

“Then we will have at least done our due diligence and we’ll make the best decision moving forward.”

The Minister stressed that “it may end up being that nothing comes out of it”, in which case the property would have to be put back on the open market.

“It may be that we have some of the things that was just mentioned come in here and here’s an opportunity to have a developer that not only no longer has a strain on the public purse, but provides employment opportunities for Bermudians.”

He continued: “It’s irrelevant to talk about whether it should be there or not. I’m not one to think that it was the best use of that property but it’s here, it’s built and there’s currently an open SDO for other options.

“I don’t know where exactly that is at this point but I would think that we will put together the requests for information that looks at this envelope and property, and decide where to go from here as a Country. We will make an open decision based on what we have.

“I wish I had the answer tomorrow, but ideally, we should know by the end of summer or the beginning of fall. That would be a realistic time frame.”

Meanwhile, Grand Atlantic developer Gilbert Lopes said: “There’s no comment I could make positive or negative because it has nothing to do with me.

“They own the units outright and basically they can do whatever they want.”

In the interim he said he still plans to go ahead and apply to have the sustainable development order attached to the property modified.

Said Mr Lopes: “I will apply to have phase four of the project changed from 47 two- and three-bedroom units to build 50 one-bedroom units, and I will move on the marketing of that as early as next week.”

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Published Mar 9, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 9, 2013 at 12:01 am)

Could this be Bermuda’s next hotel?

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