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Belvedere project seen as sign of confidence

Raising the roof: The new Belvedere Apartments block gets the traditional roof-wetting with rum by, from left, architect Germano Botelho, Mike Ewles of BCM McAlpine, Premier Michael Dunkley, West Hamilton Holdings Harrichand Sukdeo, Finance Minister Bob Richards, Quatar Re’s Alastair Speare-Cole and Michael Collier, chairman of West Hamilton Holdiings (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A post-Brexit exodus of British business could power a rebirth of prosperity in Bermuda, a company chief said yesterday.

Michael Collier, chairman of developer West Hamilton Holdings Ltd, said: “I am optimistic.

“With all the issues going on around the world and issues with Brexit in the UK, Bermuda continues to be and even more so a favourite jurisdiction.

“If that happens, demand will increase. We would like to see that sooner rather than later, but time will tell.”

Mr Collier was speaking as West Hamilton officially took possession of its new Belvedere Apartments off Pitts Bay Road in Pembroke — a block of apartments with office space to be occupied by reinsurance firm Qatar Re on the penthouse floor.

Mr Collier told guests at the traditional roof-wetting ceremony and handover of the keys from builders BCM McAlpine that the new block, behind the existing Belvedere Building and next to the iconic Bacardi headquarters, was already 80 per cent occupied, with one remaining apartment for sale and two for rent.

And he said that the company had been given planning permission for a 48,000-square-foot office block on the Pitts Bay Road car park’s eastern end, next to the existing underground car parking ramp.

Mr Collier added a total of 22 subcontractors were involved in the construction of Belvedere Apartments, spearheaded by BCM McAlpine, with more than 100 Bermudians employed on site, as well as more involved in the fitting out phase.

And he said that a twin building was planned for an area currently used as car parking in front of the new block, while construction of two additional floors of car parking, amounting to 140 extra spaces, would begin in about two months’ time.

Mr Collier said: “We have got approval for the 48,000 square feet that’s available for development, but we haven’t set any targets for it. But if someone said they would like to come along and be involved, we would welcome talking to them.

“It’s ready to go — it’s just sitting down and discussing the interior layout and the exterior and that could happen relatively quickly.”

Mr Collier added that Pitts Bay Road, transformed in recent years by new developments like the Waterfront complex and the revamping of the Hamilton Princess, was a symbol of confidence in the future of the country.

He said: “The development taking place all along Pitts Bay Road, from XL up to the Princess and including the Princess, has been significant.

“It’s location, location, location — there’s parking, office buildings, a grocery store, hairdresser’s, restaurants, marine suppliers and marinas and the Princess as well. We have an outstanding neighbourhood.”

He added that the new building’s clean lines had been designed to blend in with the Mies van der Rohe modernist masterpiece that houses Bacardi.

Michael Dunkley, the Premier, who performed the roof-wetting, told guests: “We’re starting to see some semblance of progress going forward. We had to build up confidence and create the jobs.

“You need confidence, you need people to push things to make it happen. This is the type of confidence, the type of building, Bermuda needs as we go forward in this very competitive world.

“I know it hasn’t been easy in construction, but better days are here and better days are coming going forward.”