Whites Island casino hotel plan revealed
Plagued by controversy
The redevelopment of the capitals waterfront has been hit with controversy ever since Mayor Graeme Outerbridge announced the dawn of a new Hamilton almost six months ago.
At a press conference on January 29, Mayor Outerbridge introduced Allied Development Partners (ADP) as the Bermudian company established to partner with the Corporation of Hamilton to redevelop the waterfront. But it was not until mid-March that Mr Outerbridge confirmed that a lease agreement had been signed with the developers, although he refused to provide details of the arrangement.
That news was met with concern by former Mayor Charles Gosling who said: That gives them the right to take possession of the waterfront and to develop it in a manner the public is not aware.
Government was also kept in the dark over the plans, saying it could not endorse the project, or carry out due diligence, because the Corporation had failed to provide it with essential documents.
And Mayor Outerbridge maintained his silence on the matter last month, refusing to say whether a resolution approving the lease of waterfront property existed. Nor did he respond to other questions concerning allegations that only a select few members have full access to information about the controversial deal.
Ironically, in his letter, ADP Chairman Michael MacLean acknowledged that creating a structured and transparent process with frequent consultation and collaboration with stakeholders, Government, industry and community groups was one of the key success factors of the plan.
Mr MacLean did provide some details of how his company was selected for the project.
By way of response to a Request For Proposal issued by the Corporation of Hamilton in the latter part of 2012, ADP Ltd successfully secured the rights to become the exclusive lead developer of this rare and unique national treasure.
On December 21, 2012, ADP Ltd and the Corporation of Hamilton, the body governing the Corporation of Hamilton, executed a ground lease laying out the general scope of the new development agreement, which was executed on the same day.
He said that ADPs role would be to identify key partners and assemble a consortium to meet the objectives of all stakeholders, drive the process of planning, design, consultation, approvals, financing, construction and operations, and assemble a macro or master plan.
Last month Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy confirmed that Government had finally received documents detailing the proposal.
While the Minister lamented the fact that it took six months to receive the information, he did take the opportunity to thank the Mayor, Graeme Outerbridge, and the members of the Corporation for their cooperation, a spokesman said.
He was hopeful that this gesture of transparency on behalf of the Corporation would lead to a more constructive dialogue.
Government is in the process of reviewing the submission, and the Minister will provide a statement in due course.
Developers are considering building a casino hotel on Whites Island as part of a major revamp of Hamilton Harbour, The Royal Gazette can reveal.
And sources close to the project say that the Governors official residence could be torn down to create space for a new cargo docks facility on the North Shore. The docks are currently located at the eastern end of the harbour, but will have to be relocated to make way for a number of new amenities under the new plan.
Although Hamilton mayor Graeme Outerbridge announced the multimillion dollar development six months ago, he provided few details of how it will transform the city, or even when work will commence.
However, detailed plans drawn up by developer Allied Development Partners (ADP) and obtained by The Royal Gazette show that a casino hotel has been pencilled in to be built on Whites Island. A lighthouse containing restaurants and a revolving bar, along with a marina and residential units, are also planned for the island.
And under the proposals, cargo docks currently located at the eastern end of Hamilton will have to find a new home after making way for a theatre complex, outdoor art and dining plazas and an amphitheatre.
A series of jetties housing commercial, and residential units, will also be located at the site of the current docks. Sources involved with the project say developers have identified a stretch of North Shore in Devonshire as a prime spot to relocate the docks, and that if that proposal gets the go-ahead, the new facility will encroach onto the grounds of Government House, the official residence of Governor George Fergusson.
In a letter accompanying the plans, ADP Chairman Michael MacLean said his company hopes to break ground on the first phase of the project — which includes cruise ship, tour boat and ferry terminals, a transport hub and boardwalk at the western end of the harbour — during 2016. The ambitious scheme has been split into four phases, and Mr MacLean said the final phase should be complete by 2029.
Although gambling is illegal, Government has promised to hold a referendum on the controversial issue later this year, while Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell has already voiced his support, saying it is right for Bermuda. And Premier Craig Cannonier is currently in the Bahamas on a fact-finding mission, having held talks with Prime Minister Perry Christie on the impact gambling has had on the Caribbean resort.
Yesterday The Royal Gazette e-mailed Mr MacLean, who is currently off Island, asking why his company was proposing to build a casino before a referendum on gambling has taken place. Mr Maclean did not respond to our questions, while a spokeswoman for Mayor Outerbridge also failed to return calls.
But Deputy Mayor Donal Smith did confirm that a relocation plan for the docks was being considered.
Asked if North Shore was viewed as a possible venue for a new facility, Mr Smith said: I do know that there have been some discussions with Government about that.
In his letter, Mr MacLean acknowledged that, in order for the plan to succeed, the developer will have to work with Government to increase or introduce tourism generally and blue tourism specifically, destination gaming, performing arts, international business and possibly a free enterprise zone.
And he stressed that the conceptual master plan was not final, but a first step towards developing a scheme which all stakeholders can contribute and provide feedback on.
The current usage of our city waterfront represents a significant undervaluing, and even abuse of this very prime real estate treasure. Mr MacLean said.
Our vision is grand, it is iconic and comprehensive. It will create civic and national pride. The leadership of ADP recognises that nature has bestowed upon Bermuda an extraordinarily beautiful harbour within our city. In order for the City of Hamilton to achieve its best opportunity for success, we need to create a vibrant and dynamic city within this natural setting.
Mr MacLean added that the development will be the catalyst for rebranding of who we are and will catapult Bermuda into the same league as internationally renowned resorts such as Monte Carlo, Dubai and the Bahamas.
Through transforming the Hamilton waterfront into a 21st century centre of vibrant business, cultural, artistic and social activity, the people of Bermuda will enjoy a significantly upgraded and modernised city, Mr MacLean concluded.