Bold $1.3b plan to relocate docks
Businessman Khalid Wasi is proposing a $1.3 billion plan which would create a complex of shops, warehouses, a hotel and cargo docks relocated from the City of Hamilton.
An estimated 70 acres of land is to be reclaimed if the project goes ahead. Mr Wasi told
The Royal Gazette that the waterfront redevelopment project, with lead developers Allied Development Partners, depends on the relocation of the docks.
Government, he said, had been briefed but a formal proposal is yet to be submitted.
“They were cordial and interested in the proposition. They obviously had many questions but offered no reservations. They explained the process and we are abiding by it,” Mr Wasi said.
The Royal Gazette asked both Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons and Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy about the proposal but no responses were received by press time last night.
Meanwhile, Michael MacLean, the principal of Allied Development Partners, said that he was aware of Mr Wasi’s concept and had incorporated a scaled-down version in his proposal for the waterfront development.
Mr Wasi agreed to explain his proposal following a report in this newspaper that the docks relocation might entail levelling the Governor’s official residence.
Both men insisted that our sources were wrong.
“In my proposal, there is no mention of any relocation of the Hamilton dock to the Governor’s mansion,” said Mr MacLean. But he said it was clear that the docks had to be relocated to accommodate the waterfront redevelopment.
Mr MacLean has included the dock relocation as an appendix to his waterfront redevelopment proposal. But he said even a scaled-down version would cost at least $100 million, and he has budgeted $200 million for the project.
“If we want to develop this land we can’t expect the Government or the tax payers to cover the cost (of relocating the docks). It’s totally functional now, it works, it’s there. So we have to figure out a way to pay for it. And the Government would have to approve the new location.”
Mr MacLean said the new dock facility had generated a “lot of interest”.
A Government commissioned study on the docks relocation was completed in 2008 by Florida based firm Bermello Ajamil and Partners. It suggested building new cargo facilities on 15 to 20 acres of land at one of five sites — Morgan’s Point, Marginal Wharf, Tynes Bay, Ocean View or Blackwatch Pass.
Mr Wasi said his concept would involve reclaimed land between Tynes Bay and Ocean View, building on the earlier study.
Financiers have already been lined up and the project could potentially have an enormous economic impact, he said.
“It will not be a financial burden that will increase the cost of imports. Rather, with at least eight streams of revenue, the concept will self finance and add revenue to the country and possibly reduce cost for future imports,” Mr Wasi said.
“We will regain our maritime relevance, which has been lost during the last two decades following base closures at the end of the cold war.
“We will create a new physical economy that creates many jobs and adds another leg to the economy which has the potential of producing hundreds of millions of dollars of hard international currency as annual revenue which does not depend on any of our existing business.
“The proposed site will increase the value and opportunity to all the properties in the area.”
He added that he had been working on the concept for about two years — before the City of Hamilton began its process to select a lead developer for the waterfront project, and that City Hall was supportive and encouraging.
“We have already engaged various interest groups that may participate in aspects of the port which has a hotel and retail sector and industrial park.
“We have consulted the relevant Government ministry that deals with business development and we understand the process. We intend to abide by the process and from our end, we will be transparent and inclusive.”
He added: “We understand the process needed by Government and are abiding by it — we cannot move ahead of Government. We have investment partners for the $1.3 billion venture, we also have trade partners for the business from the shipping industry for the handling of the transshipment port who have numerous ports around the world.
“This is not a competitive exercise. In our view, it's a consultative process which needs the engagement of all the stakeholders. It is the only way to ensure the investment and public participation.”
Mr Wasi is hoping to get a 100-year lease concession for the land with Government taking a percentage of gross revenue as payment.