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Government notes objections to Fairmont Southampton SDO

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A 2023 proposed master plan, with zoning information, for the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton (Photograph supplied)

An “early objection” by a conservation charity to proposed residential units at the Fairmont Southampton resort has been noted, a home affairs ministry spokesman said.

He added that no formal application had been received from the developer, but residents will be asked for feedback after a request is made.

The spokesman responded to The Royal Gazette after the Bermuda National Trust, in a Letter to the Editor, raised concerns about “the addition of the 147 proposed residential units” at the site.

Westend Properties, an affiliate of Miami-based investment firm Gencom, which is leading development of the resort, said in a February update that a new application for a special development order was “in the process of being submitted”.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs said: “While we note the early objection by the BNT, the Department of Planning has yet to receive a formal application for the Fairmont Southampton site.

“The minister and ministry cannot comment until the application and environmental impact assessment are published.

“Once published, the public will be invited to review and comment.”

He added: “With that in mind, we thank the BNT for their response submitted in advance of all required information, which will form part of any formal application and EIA, and as part of the process, we will review it along with any other submissions received.”

The master plan for the Fairmont Southampton villa development

An SDO granted in 2009 gave planning permission in principle at the Fairmont Southampton resort for 71 fractional tourism properties, 37 residential villas and 22 town homes.

Karen Border, the trust’s executive director, wrote last week: “BNT strongly supports the Bermuda tourism industry, which is such an important part of our economy and of our cultural heritage.

“For this reason, we understand that building additional fractional tourism units on the Fairmont Southampton site may be necessary to make the hotel renovation more financially viable and to increase visitor beds and local job opportunities.

“However, we are extremely concerned with the proposed new Special Development Order, which would double the number and height of the buildings proposed in 2009 from 130 to 261 units, some of them six storeys high, saturating all the remaining open space on the site — apart from the golf course — in concrete.

“Our primary concern is with the addition of the 147 proposed residential units, most of which will be sold to foreign buyers as second homes and would bring very limited benefit to Bermuda and Bermudians.”

She said the units would have “a severe negative impact on the tourism amenity at Fairmont Southampton and our environment overall”.

The 2009 proposed master plan for the Fairmont Southampton (Image supplied)

Westend Properties said earlier: “It is estimated that the projected build will only take up an additional 34 acres of the entire 100-acre property; 62 per cent of the existing recreational and green space will remain.

“Once the SDO is approved, we can begin the design and pre-construction stage of the project.

“We anticipate the development will be executed in three phases; the ultimate timing will be based on the market demand for comparable real estate and will be over a longer duration, estimated at 15 to 20 years.”

Karim Alibhai, the founder and principal of Gencom, said last year that the residential component of the project “will be very thoughtfully done”.

The company was contacted to comment on the BNT’s letter, but none was received by the time of publication.

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Published April 11, 2023 at 7:38 am (Updated April 11, 2023 at 7:38 am)

Government notes objections to Fairmont Southampton SDO

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