City of Hamilton committed to making Par-la-Ville hotel a reality
Smith: Road blocks were put up against project
Recent Hamilton mayors put up road blocks against a bid to secure a new hotel for the city, current Deputy Mayor Donal Smith said.
He recalled his close relationship with 2006 mayor Jay Bluck, who died in office after serving scant months.
The company Par-la-Ville Hotel and Residences secured the lease on Par-la-Ville parking lot during Mr Blucks tenure, Mr Smith said.
Soon after, Jay and a few of his Council members and I travelled to Washington DC, where we met with the decision makers of the Ritz Carlton Hotel brand.
Unfortunately, after Jay passed, I then began to experience a barrage of road blocks and steel walls as obstacles to my team advancing the proposed hotel project. The next mayor made it most difficult for our team to make meaningful progress.
This is the kind of behaviour that major hotel brands, together with hotel financiers, have a real problem with.
Ex-mayor Sutherland Madeiros, who took over after Mr Blucks death, said Mr Smiths assertion wasnt true.
Absolutely not, he said. I was very much in favour of the hotel, but we had to ensure that every step we took was right for the City of Hamilton. None of us had been involved in the hotel business.
I took advice from hoteliers and a lawyer in New York, who said you have to get the contract right up-front, or youll run into problems.
He said the developers didnt meet all their commitments along the way.
They could not raise the financing, Mr Madeiros added.
We only tried to make sure the Is were dotted and the Ts were crossed.
He told The Royal Gazette that he saw no conflict of interest for Mr Smith to be involved as head of the Citys infrastructure committee.
If he has absolutely nothing in any way connected with the developers or the financing, then I have no problem at all.
The City of Hamilton is committed and determined to make the proposed Par-la-Ville hotel a reality, very soon, Hamilton Rotarians were told yesterday.
However Government needs to stop lollygagging and encourage hospitality development, said Donal Smith, Hamiltons Deputy Mayor.
Mr Smith said there was no conflict of interest between his City office and his role as the founder of the company Par-la-Ville Hotel & Residences.
I stepped down before taking office, he told The Royal Gazette.
I am the one that brought it to the table. But for six years, being hampered by past mayors, it made no sense for me to continue — its not good for health.
He continued: Past mayors owned companies such as Goslings, Friths, Boyles and Gibbons but with them it was never a conflict of interest. Why is it as deputy mayor, one who has brought a hotel initiative, it seems to be not right for Donal Smith to be involved? Thats for the public to answer.
His speech yesterday to the Hamilton Rotary Club emphasised the City councils determination to court overseas investment.
At a time when Bermuda needs to reach out even more aggressively to international investors, we seem to have taken our eye off the ball, he told them.
Mr Smith said it was the hospitality sector that stood to provide Bermudians with good jobs, especially through the building of new hotels.
But in order for this to happen, our new Government needs to be far more aggressive in identifying and seeking out new developers and those who finance development.
Those who hold sway in the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Finance need to move with far more responsiveness in providing the permits and permission that the investors, developers and builders need to begin their work.
He said the new administration appeared intent on working through committees that moved too slowly.
Calling on Bermudians to wake up, Mr Smith said the dwindling of the Islands hospitality industry had caused Bermudians to lose their congeniality.
The exclusive focus on international business and financial services lost the Island its lead in exemplary service, he said.
We have, by either design or neglect, lost our Bermudian charm, he added.
The City hadnt seen new hotel development in 60 years, Mr Smith said.
With this as our premise, the new Corporation of Hamilton Council are committed and determined to work with Government and the city stakeholders in making the hotel project on the Par-la-Ville car park site a reality, very soon.
He said hed heard discussions with the proposed St Regis developer were going well, and hoped to hear an announcement from Government in the near future.
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