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Waterfront redevelopment will show world ‘Bermuda means business’

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The Stage and Pier phase of the Hamilton waterfront redevelopment plan proposed by Sir John's Swan and architects Linberg & Simmons.

An ambitious plan to turn Hamilton’s waterfront into a traffic-free zone containing a boutique hotel and casino, galleries, shops, parks, and a new marina, could revitalise the city, it has been claimed.

Architect Sjur Linberg devised the three-stage project to make Hamilton more people-friendly – something he believes the city must do if it is to survive.

Mr Linberg “dusted off” the scheme, originally devised ten years ago, after the Government unveiled a draft City of Hamilton Plan last month.

In an initial consultation process, Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, has urged the public to submit ideas on how Hamilton can develop.

Mr Linberg, a veteran architect, designer and city planner who has been on the island for more than 50 years, said: “For Hamilton to be successful and for retail to be successful and to have a chance, we have to make Hamilton a nice place to be – a place where people want to spend their time.

“That means getting rid of all the cars on Front Street and totally transforming the waterfront. The streets are choked with cars at the moment and people are just an afterthought – that has to change.”

A document produced by Mr Linberg’s company, Linberg and Simmons Architects, states: “The waterfront should be a place of enjoyment and coming together, for Bermudians and visitors alike – a place for recreation and reflection, where we can celebrate our unique heritage and our multicultural society.”

The proposal includes a new hotel and casino on Albouys Point, connecting to a new ferry terminal, to be made of transparent materials “so as not to disrupt the views”.

The document adds: “The public spaces, with cooling shade trees, create opportunities for eating, gathering, entertainment and play.”

A new dock jutting out into the harbour would provide space for small cruise ships and luxury yachts, and the waterfront would also feature a market selling local produce and an amphitheatre where plays and other entertainments could be staged.

Vehicles will not be completely banned from the city. Under Mr Linberg’s proposal, three levels of parking could be housed under City Hall and Par-la-Ville car parks.

The document states: “The principle of avoiding substantial amounts of land-reclamation results in a waterfront development scheme which is considerably less costly and more achievable.

“This scheme is also more flexible in that it can be completed in phases, with the initial phase being no more than re-landscaping the existing areas.

“We believe this proposal for the redevelopment of Hamilton’s waterfront will show the world not only that Bermuda means business, but that we care about the quality of life of our citizens and our visitors and that by working together we can make Bermuda a better place for all.”

Mr Linberg added: “The Government is asking for public consultation in how Hamilton moves forward. I believe that If the public gets behind this idea, then politicians will get behind it.“

The plan has the backing of former Premier and developer Sir John Swan, who said that Bermuda was “at a crossroads” in its history – and that redevelopment would be the engine that could kick start the economy.

Sir John told The Royal Gazette: “Take any country or any city – it’s been the infrastructure development that has driven the economy.

“I am anxious to see what the Government comes up with for a plan and feel we could put this out here as an example of what’s possible.

“I think Hamilton is going to be the catalyst and there’s going to be a huge amount of support for this kind of thing, both in international business and the local community. If we can get people excited about it, it can happen.

“We want to make a difference. We want people to look back in history and say we caused events to take place. I think that this is a moment of promise.

“We need to have a collective energy – that is people coalescing around each other. We’ve lost our collective energy and we don’t even know we’ve lost it.

“We need to look at Hamilton as a centre core. At the end of the day you need a critical mass that the world can look at and say, ‘I can see what they’re doing’.”

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Published February 16, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated February 16, 2023 at 7:59 am)

Waterfront redevelopment will show world ‘Bermuda means business’

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