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Business hub to replace AC Village

An eco-friendly business hub could become the new tenant at Cross Island after the America's Cup sets sail.

In a report released yesterday, the Cross Island Legacy Committee — established to find a use for the nine-acre parcel of land currently housing the America's Cup Village — recommended that it should be used for an “integrated blue/green business hub”.

Indoor agriculture, aquaculture and renewable energy would be incorporated, said the committee. Some 300 ideas were submitted by the public, including proposals for water and dog parks, an open-air concert venue — and even a brothel.

Wayne Caines, chairman of the committee, said that the recommendation followed “systematic processes”.

“If we take all the elements of this proposal together, we think the overall value is far greater than if you take them individually,” he said.

The concept, Mr Caines said, could create new jobs and industry alike.

“It is really important to understand that we are not talking about some grow-out in the backyard here.”

The West End Development Corporation originally forwarded plans that could have seen the site transformed to a new home for Marine and Ports operations, a boat service yard with superyacht capacity, and a maritime school.

A Supreme Court decision, following an appeal launched by the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, found deficiencies in the Environmental Impact Assessments completed for the possible redevelopment proposals, however.

The ten-member committee was formed by Wedco last year following the court decision.

All ideas, the report said, were evaluated based on five criteria: economic, environmental, financial, social/cultural, and structural.

Greatest emphasis among the criteria was given to the economic benefit for Bermuda. Multiple benefits from the hub, Mr Caines said, could include international education opportunities.

“It will help provide more security, reducing our reliance on imports,” he said.

“It will add to the amount of healthy, locally-sourced food products and there may even be some potential for exports.”

Jonathan Starling, executive director at Greenrock, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the proposal.

“I think what is proposed, in the form of renewable energy helping to reduce Bermuda's carbon footprint, boosts to local agricultural production and locally produced mariculture, is welcome,” Mr Starling said.

Ray Charlton, chairman of Wedco, called the proposal an “interesting idea”.

“We do not yet know if the America's Cup will be coming back to Bermuda but if, unfortunately, it does not, we want to be in a position to progress with a project for Cross Island that is both in keeping with the area and which adds to the economic wellbeing of Bermuda.”

BEST said that while the report had taken a long time to materialise, its spirit was “admirable”.

Cross Island

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Published May 19, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 19, 2017 at 9:12 am)

Business hub to replace AC Village

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