Redevelopment of 9 Beaches Resort one step closer
An amendment aimed at allowing longer leases on former baselands was passed this week in the Senate, bringing a redevelopment project at the 9 Beaches Resort closer to reality.
Presenting the amendment, Government Senator Cromwell Shakir said: “Hopefully this will result in a major boost in the Island's tourism. We hope that this bill will continue to support the spirit of the initiative.”
The Base Lands Development Act allows the Bermuda Land Development Company (BLDC) to offer leases up to 262 years on all former baselands, including Daniel's Head, Southside and Morgan's Point.
The passing of the amendment was seen as a necessary step for the $80 million redevelopment of the 9 Beaches Resort to go ahead, and something that could encourage investments from other potential developers. Sen Shakir said those who plan to invest heavily in Bermuda in these difficult economic times need to be encouraged and supported.
“At a time that people are saying 'down turns', they are looking to invest in Bermuda,” Sen Shakir said. “They recognise the potential of this project. They know tourism isn't dead. We have to recognise the courage that these business people are showing here and we need to give them continued incentive.”
UBP Senator Michael Dunkley said he would support the amendment, but that confidence in the rebirth of the tourism industry would only be restored when the results are apparent.
“Confidence will not be restored by this bill. Confidence will be restored only when the promises of this bill come into effect,” Sen Dunkley said.
“When people get a pay cheque every week, that is when confidence will be restored.”
Opposition Senate leader Jeanne Atherden said Government must make sure that if developers are being given concessions that the Bermudian people get repayed with jobs and opportunities.
However Government Senate leader David Burch stressed that any concessions made by Government would have to be passed in the House and the Senate.
“Concessions are not decided in a dark room or a cellar somewhere that we don't hear about. They must be presented in both Houses,” Senator Burch said. “And if they do not provide what they promise, then they don't get the concessions. It's as simple as that.”
PLP Senator David Burt downplayed concerns about the potential length of leases, saying tourism will always be a part of the Bermuda economy. “Other industries may come and go, but tourism will stay,” Sen Burt said.
PLP Senator LaVerne Furbert said more work needs to be done to attract Bermudians to the tourism industry. “What has happened in the past is people look at Bermudians going into the industry doing menial tasks,” Sen Furbert said.
“We need, and the hospitality industry needs, to let Bermudians know that there are lots of opportunities in the hospitality industry.”
UBP Senator Suzann Holshouser and Independent Senator Joan Dillas-Wright expressed concern about the possibility of the property's original owners trying to reclaim it, but Sen Furbert said she believed those who drafted the amendment would have looked at that possibility.
Senate passed the amendment unanimously.