Will Lantana return to tourism spotlight?
The former site of Bermuda’s first cottage colony languishes on the property market a quarter of a century after it closed down, and some 15 years following its purchase for the purpose of redevelopment.
Lantana Colony Club opened in 1958 during the heyday of the island’s tourism industry, featuring formal gardens, tennis courts, a croquet lawn, pool and a private beach.
Boat-owning patrons cruised to Lantana’s dock before enjoying a meal in the property’s restaurant.
Closed since 1998, the 9.73-acre Sandys parish property with sweeping views of the Great Sound was bought in 2008 by Lawrence Doyle, the cofounder and managing director of the US-based hedge fund and mutual fund managers Horizon Kinetics.
The property is zoned for tourism that allows for residential use. Permission from previous planning approvals included 28 hotel condominiums, 13 residences, a beach pavilion, pools and a clubhouse.
Mr Doyle, who also owns a 330-acre horse-breeding operation in Kentucky, cleared the site of buildings in preparation for development.
But his plans were hampered first by a worldwide financial crisis, and later when his attention was diverted by the 2014 purchase of the Newstead and Belmont Hills properties.
The Covid-19 pandemic, as it was for many projects, was a more recent obstruction.
Mr Doyle characterised the project as a “little unlucky”.
He added: “The financial crisis in 2008 and the pandemic — so that’s six years now.”
Mr Doyle put Lantana on the market in 2015 for $16.9 million.
It remains there today, the asking price unchanged.
Mr Doyle said the listing realtor, Keller Williams Bermuda, is approached concerning the property every six months, adding: “There has been a little more interest in it, more people inquiring about it, but nothing concrete.”
He said his priority is the sale of fractional units at Newstead Belmont Hills Golf Resort and Spa; some 50 of 138 units have been sold.
“The fractional market has been tricky — I am not looking to develop more until that is sold. That is picking up, as well.”
Mr Doyle said there are more attractive opportunities on the market than investing in a development in Bermuda.
“I can buy a 350-unit, multifamily property in Texas for below construction cost as opposed to spending $1,500 a square foot to build on spec in Bermuda. It’s very expensive.”
He is philosophical about the investment in Lantana.
Mr Doyle said: “You win some, you lose some. It’s a beautiful piece of property. With inflation, it might be going up (in value). Maybe I’ll do something with it someday.
“Right now, I don’t feel the economics are there to really develop it.”
The 64-year-old businessman visits the island twice a year and remains a keen observer of the Bermuda market.
He said Azura, the South Shore venture that sees people buy residences and then put all or part of them into the property’s hotel programme, has caught his eye.
Recently, Azura developer John Bush told The Royal Gazette that the development has been able to pay off its bank loan for the project.
Mr Doyle said: “Azura has a nice model. I might go that way. Maybe that’s a better way to go than tourism.”
He added: “If I subdivide it, and build houses, I have to build a hotel and I don’t think a hotel is a prudent thing to build these days.
“The world has changed. Every government has been great to me. It’s nothing to do with government. I just don’t think I can make it work, to be honest with you.
“Fortunately, I have other investments, properties performing well and hopefully something will move along on the other eventually.”
Mr Doyle said he is open to a partnership to develop Lantana.
He added: “I’m not that good a marketer. If someone came in, and was a better marketer than me, and wanted to develop the property, I would either sell or participate if they wanted me.”
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