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Investors said to have pulled out of St George’s pub project

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Renovations: Investors in the former Pub on the Square have pulled out after work was stopped over a controversial exhaust fan on the listed building. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Investors in a proposed restaurant on Kings Square in St George’s are said to have pulled out in the wake of a dispute between entrepreneur Marico Thomas and the Government.

A statement from Four Star Pizza, operated by Mr Thomas, said that while the investors said they believed in the project they did not think their “money, efforts and reputation” were being respected or treated fairly by the Government.

The statement quoted investors as saying: “Every project will have its challenges but they are typically faced shoulder-to-shoulder and in private.

“The precedents being set by the Cabinet ministers and Premier are perceived hostile and, as unfortunate and intolerable indicators of how future matters would be supported or resolved.

“It is in this regard and with regret, that we will remove our investment in the project and pull out of St George’s.”

The statement said the investors had agreed to move forward with the project as a result of a call for action by the Government to invest in the island and create jobs.

It added that investors said they were “confused” by the lack of support by the Government given the level of support given to hotel developments.

A Government spokesman said last night that it was “disappointing” news, but reiterated that – despite concerns about an exhaust fan installed at the site – no Government stop order was made.

The spokesman said: “To demonstrate the Government’s support for the project, work was allowed to continue in spite of the issues identified with the development.

“The Town of St George is a unique and historic area and every development must be sensitive to the surroundings.

“A solution can be found to the unauthorised exhaust fan that solicited complaints from the St George’s Preservation Society and this is an unusual premise for the withdrawal of investors.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Thomas reached out to the Minister of Economy and Labour – and the Minister extended support and will continue to support any local business that looks to invest and grow jobs in the economy.”

The spokesman also highlighted support offered to local entrepreneurs, including no taxes on the first year of operations for new businesses, tax relief and direct lending through BEDC.

The announcement came after a public dispute between Mr Thomas and Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs over the Pub on the Square.

The project involved the redevelopment of a Grade 2 Listed Building in St George that formerly housed Pub on the Square.

Mr Thomas told The Royal Gazette earlier this month that work on the restaurant halted after planning staff told him that an exhaust fan on the building’s roof was too large.

He said: “We keep finding ourselves doing the best we can to work with the Government, making sure everything is done the right way, only to find out later on there is another interpretation.”

Mr Thomas urged the Government do more to remove hurdles for entrepreneurs who sought to make investments in the community.

Mr Roban responded that the Government appreciated Mr Thomas’ contributions to the economy, but that the extractor fan at the heart of the dispute was not included in the original planning application.

He said: “At no time did the department halt the project or issue a stop order on the development contrary to Mr Thomas’ allegations.

“Instead, in an extraordinary show of good faith, following the misleading information presented to the media, the Department of Planning went to great efforts to discuss with Mr Thomas various options to address the concerns, and mitigate the challenge of the visual impact of the extraction fan upon the listed building and World Heritage Site.”

He added that an investigation into the project was launched after residents, the Corporation of St George’s and the St George’s Preservation Society raised concerns.

Exhausted: Pub on the Square’s controversial exhaust fan (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published April 13, 2022 at 3:04 pm (Updated April 13, 2022 at 3:04 pm)

Investors said to have pulled out of St George’s pub project

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