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Cross Island lawsuit launched

Big plans: Tim Blakey, president of the Savvy Foundation, at the press conference announcing the Cross Island and Moresby House, Ireland Island North entertainment project in February 2018 (Photograph supplied)

The Government has launched a lawsuit to recover almost $800,000 of public money it loaned to an entertainment company to create a recording studio at Dockyard, The Royal Gazette can reveal.

Papers were filed in the Supreme Court against Anthony Blakey and Danilee Trott, of Savvy Entertainment Ltd, on June 7 for defaulting on $778,204 of an $800,000 loan.

The court documents warned the pair to pay the full amount plus interest in 30 days or face civil proceedings.

The Government failed to answer questions yesterday about whether the money was repaid in full. Mr Blakey did not respond to phone calls and e-mails. Ms Trott declined to comment.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, announced in February 2018 that Savvy Entertainment had taken over the management of Cross Island, the venue for the 2017 America’s Cup, and would use it to host events that did not need permanent structures.

He said events held there would have a pre-negotiated fee and any revenue would go to the Government to help defer the $39 million cost of construction. Colonel Burch said Savvy had a charitable arm which would be led in Bermuda by Dame Jennifer Smith, a former premier, who would also join the board of Savvy’s international foundation.

Ms Trott told reporters that Savvy would also convert Dockyard’s historic Moresby House into an “A-class” recording studio.

An agreement between the former Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, and Ms Trott and Mr Blakey, filed at the Registrar of Companies, shows the loan was provided on April 2, 2018, for 36 months “for the purposes of setting up a music studio at Savvy House, 26 Pender Road, Ireland Island, Sandys”.

The document said: “The loan is made on the strict condition that the loan is to be used for the purpose of setting up the studio, for shipment to Bermuda of recording equipment for your authorised business purpose and for the installation of equipment in West End Development (Wedco) facilities at 26 Pender Road.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the loan may not be used by you to fund other business, to pay or discharge any other loan, or to make expenditures not directly connected with the studio, and the loan shall be a first charge on the equipment in the studio.”

The loan, with an interest rate of 4.75 per cent a year, was to be repaid on a monthly basis over a maximum of 36 months.

The agreement said Ms Trott and Mr Blakey would have to pay for any costs run up by the Government related to enforcement of its rights under the loan terms.

Both signed the agreement, along with Randy Rochester, who was then the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism and is now permanent secretary at the public works ministry.

An appendix was attached that listed studio equipment and installation costs which totalled more than $730,000.

Savvy Entertainment’s website said it is an Atlanta-based “global entertainment solutions company” which is “also established in Bermuda and Germany”.

The website features a section on venue rentals, which lists Cross Island as available for a seven-day or five-day rental for a corporate rate of $25,000/$20,000 or a promoter rate of $20,000/$15,000.

The Shed, the former home of the British Land Rover BAR America’s Cup team, is listed for hire for between $6,000 and $12,000.

Savvy organised a New Year’s Eve celebration at The Shed at the end of 2018, with free admission or VIP tickets at $250.

Its website shows a flyer for another event, a “Trunk-D tailgate party”, in April this year.

Ms Trott was event project manager at the Corporation of Hamilton until December last year.

As well as chief operating officer of Savvy, she is the executive producer of Bermuda Fashion Festival.

Savvy organised the fashion festival this year after submitting a request for proposal bid to City Hall.

Savvy CEO Mr Blakey is an American songwriter who incorporated Savvy Entertainment Bermuda in September 2016.

It is not known if Savvy is still managing Cross Island or whether Moresby House has been converted into a studio.

Questions were sent to the Ministry of Tourism and Transport about the loan and the management of Cross Island.

A spokesman said it could take some time to answer, as the deal was struck under the now-axed ministry of economic development and tourism.

Cross Island totals nine acres of reclaimed land at Dockyard and was financed by a $39 million loan to the West End Development Corporation from Butterfield Bank.

The Government provided an unconditional guarantee for the loan so the America’s Cup event could be based there.

Charlton Dill, the chairman of Wedco, could not be reached yesterday.

To view the loan agreement, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”