A luxury hotel we wanted, a ghetto we got
The promise of a luxury hotel development at the Grand Atlantic site has devolved into a residential ghetto, according to the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST).
BEST Chairman Stuart Hayward said the original special development order (SDO) for the site was approved for the development of a hotel and luxury villas and condominiums, but so far only affordable housing units have been constructed.
It was the promise of a grand tourist development at that site that justified the lifting of protective zonings at the site and deceived nearby residents and the wider Bermuda public about what was actually planned, Mr Hayward said.
Instead of a five star hotel and spa with luxury tourist residences, we got the no star unattractive scar that residents and passers-by must face every day. We were promised grand edifices that would attract wealthy tourists but are left with ugly boxes that no one wants to buy, even at below-cost prices.
Theres no hotel, luxury or otherwise. Theres no upscale tourist suites or villas or condos. And now, to add insult to the aesthetic and economic injury, the developer wants to build 52 one-bedroom apartments, essentially converting the promise of grand tourism development into a residential ghetto.
The original SDO, the Grand Atlantic Resort and Residences (Warwick Parish) Special Development Order 2007, specified that the site was to contain a nine storey, 220 room five star hotel, 20 luxury fractional suites, five luxury villas and 52 luxury condominiums.
Since that SDO was approved, it has been revised twice as the project changed. In 2009, it was announced that the project would be a hybrid project consisting of 125 affordable housing units and a 100-room hotel.
So far 78 units have been constructed, one of which has been sold. Developer Gilbert Lopes has maintained that a hotel development is still on the cards for the site, stating in the spring that investors were still being sought. He has also sought planning permission to replace the remaining 47 two- and three-bedroom units planned for the site with 52 single-bedroom units.
BEST have however objected to continued development at the Warwick site, recently launching a campaign to garner objections to the proposed units.
BEST believes that it would be a grand and compounded travesty to permit further development on that, once-protected prime land that was rezoned for housing under false pretences, Mr Hayward said.
Any application for more housing on that south shore site should be firmly and irrevocably rejected. Nearby residents and the public purse have suffered enough.
Efforts to contact Mr Lopes yesterday for this story were unsuccessful.
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