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Christensen and Hunt out at Morgan’s Point

All change: Craig Christensen (left) and Nelson Hunt (right) with George’s Bay board chairman Brian Duperreault. (File photograph)

The board of a stalled hotel construction project at Morgan’s Point has been changed, as the Government said it was in discussions with the developers over their need for more financing.

Craig Christensen and Nelson Hunt have quit the board of George’s Bay Ltd, an arm of Morgan’s Point Ltd. Andy Burrows, chief investment officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, and Nancy Duperreault, wife of board chairman Brian Duperreault, have replaced them.

David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, said: “This project is an important one for Bermuda and the Government’s principal objective is to protect the taxpayers of this country in light of the existing government Loan Guarantee of $165million.

“We now understand that George’s Bay Ltd have experienced difficulties with certain requirements of the loan guarantee agreement since June 2017 and so some restructuring of the Board and the approach to this project was suggested and changes have been made to the Board of George’s Bay Ltd.”

Mr Burt added Mr Burrows’s appointment would “ensure the Government’s interests are safeguarded during this critical phase”.

The news came after The Royal Gazette exclusively reported on yesterday that work on the hotel phase of the resort, due to be run by Ritz-Carlton Reserve, had been suspended for financial reasons, a move that affected about 150 workers on the site.

A spokesman for George’s Bay Ltd said: “First-phase construction activity at Caroline Bay has been reduced ... due to construction costs outpacing the existing financing of the project.”

He added: “George’s Bay Limited is working to strengthen and extend the project financing so that construction can resume to prior levels as soon as feasible, and is committed to resuming the prior pace of first-phase construction once the necessary financing is in place.

“The resort and residential project owner looks forward to the successful completion of this unique Bermudian destination resort and residential project at Caroline Bay.”

The spokesman said the company appreciated the “engagement and ongoing support” shown by the Government and that hotel giant Marriott International, parent of Ritz-Carlton Reserve, that it remained committed to the development.

Mr Burt added: “There is a significant human element to our discussions also and that surrounds the hard-working men and women whose hours may have been cut or employment jeopardised by this reduced work stream.

“As a government, we will keep their livelihoods at the forefront of our discussions and we will do all that we can to minimise the impact of this necessary action on them and, by extension, their families.

“With a restructured board and more direct Government co-ordination we will maintain strict oversight of the management of this project as the new leadership team strengthens and extends the project’s financing.”

The first phase of the development, branded as Caroline Bay, includes 35 Ritz-Carlton Reserve residential units and a 79-room Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel.

He added: “The hotel remains an important priority and will receive ongoing work within current financial resources.

“Most construction will now focus primarily on completion of the first residential building.

“Construction will include that building plus the utility infrastructure for it, the road access from Middle Road down to the residential site area, landscaping, parking, and beach.”

Jamahl Simmons, tourism minister, said: “This is a location of great promise and we believe that a formula can be identified quickly to resume the pace of work on the development.

“Ultimately, Bermuda’s product offering will be enhanced by this development’s completion and our discussions with the company are targeted on achieving that result.”