‘The dawn of a new Hamilton’
The City of Hamilton announced a “bold step to overcome inertia” yesterday, on a multimillion redevelopment plan for city waterfront property.
Mayor Graeme Outerbridge formally introduced the consultant charged with leading the initiative to the media.
Allied Development Partners was also introduced as the Bermudian company established to partner with the City of Hamilton to redevelop the Hamilton waterfront.
“We are at the dawn of a new Hamilton,” said Mr Outerbridge. “We have to find the courage to take the first step and then the next one after that.
“We must move forward and ensure this project is successful for those who are alive today and for the generations who will follow us.”
Boston-based waterfront engineer Varoujan Hagopian described the project as “one of the biggest construction jobs” in Bermuda’s history.
According to Mr Hagopian, a developer has already been picked out of field of eight and plans have been submitted to the Department of Planning for ‘approval in principle’.
“The next step will be to finalise the assembly of the total development team in preparation for commencing the process,” said Mr Hagopian. “We will seek to assemble an oversight waterfront development committee with responsibility of reviewing all aspects of the upcoming work.
“This committee will be empowered and will be composed of representatives from Government, key community stakeholders, the Hamilton business community, members of the public at large, the City of Hamilton and its technical experts.
“They will represent the interests of the Island and routinely they will meet with the development team making sure the project remains on purpose and to its true vision.”
He concluded: “We consider this project to be an Islandwide legacy initiative. It will be developed first and foremost for Bermuda and Bermudian citizens to enjoy.
“Accordingly, the entire process from early on planning to final construction will be conducted in full transparency and will be inclusive for all to participate at every step of the way.”
And informative workshops will be organised to gauge public feedback “for all upcoming milestone development stages to create the ultimate development plan”.
Mr Outerbridge noted that the project will boost foreign investment in Bermuda and create much-needed new jobs to boost the economy. But he stressed that “no decisions have been taken” on what will be built or whether the plans include casinos.
Alex DeCouto said as the development team leader, “Allied Development Partners will the entity that drives the processes of planning, design, consultations, approvals, financing, construction and operations”.
“We will assemble a macro plan that can be divided into component parts for other teams of designers to participate in.
“I must state it’s going to be an evolving process, this is not a fixed in stone design. This is a project we are extremely excited to be involved in and these are exciting times for Bermuda,” he said.
When asked when they will actually break ground he replied: “In terms of breaking ground I think we’re closer to years than months away.
“I think it should be restated that we’re very early in the process and this announcement was simply about a team has been assembled, to start looking at this.
“The mindset from the entire team is that we’re going to start looking at this right now, working with the public and the Government and the Corporation to figure out which way we want to go.
“Its decades in terms of length until the end, it’s a very large and ambitious project, certainly the largest thing that likely Bermuda has seen in one project.
“The likelihood that somebody will see what’s going to play out is almost nil.”
Mr Hagopian has worked on a host of waterfront developments in New York, Africa, Japan, Kuwait and several others.
He added: “We can’t break ground until before we finalise the permit process and that involves directly working with the Government.”
Ultimately he said the final product will be the result of “working together with Government, the Planning Department and all the constituents of Bermuda to develop the preferred project”.
“We will start in earnest, it could happen in three months, it could happen in six months but that’s going to be our next initiative in terms of creating the preferred plan.
“We have to be very sensitive to develop a plan like this, we cannot destroy what’s already out there,” he said.
Mr Outerbridge pledged to consult with the island’s unions, environmental groups, the business community, residents and workers.
“Together we will build a waterfront that glitters, shines and prospers over time. We are at the start of the process.”
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy has gone on record as saying the Government cannot support the plan without more details to “conduct any due diligence”.
Asked why plans are proceeding without the blessing of the new Government, the Mayor said: “There were two time lines, including the time line when the general election occurred and the change of Government.
“Certain requirements meant that we were required to pay things if we didn’t go ahead with the timelines that were set by our requests for proposals.
“Without going into specifics, it would require the corporation to pay money out for losses via delay,” he said.
“From that point of view with the city’s finances being in the state they are with the guarded condition with our last audit basically on our sustainability, its important for the corporation to find new revenue streams.
“From the time of taking office we have been to see every relevant Minister both in the new Government and the old Government about city matters.”
He concluded: “I definitely feel that from what I’ve seen that the required financing to start this is in place and it will be a collaboration between the corporation and financiers and developers and the Government.”