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Developer reveals building plans for Fairmont Southampton property

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Big plans: West End Properties Ltd’s 2023 master plan showing the proposed phasing of the villas for which it is seeking a special development order.

The owner of the Fairmont Southampton resort is applying to build residential and tourism units that will cover 34 acres of the 100-acre site, according to an advertisement in yesterday’s newspaper.

Work to renovate the hotel will also begin in the next four months, according to the developer.

The advertisement, placed by West End Properties, revealed that it plans to build villas that will add a further 195 rooms to the hotel’s inventory of 593.

The advertisement, which can also be seen under related media, states that a new special development order “is in the process of being submitted”.

The advertisement did not disclose exactly how many villas will be built, but it did state that it will be more than the 130 contained in a 2009 SDO submitted by the previous owner.

It stated: “The footprint is not substantially different from the SDO that was granted in 2009, but there is a proposed increase in the number of villas as well as in the height of some of the residential and tourism units.”

The advertisement said that 62 per cent of the site would remain as green space and recreational areas.

West End, an affiliate of the hotel developer Gencom, stressed that construction of the villas will not start “until well after the hotel renovations have commenced”.

It stated: “Our first priority will be to renovate the hotel. It is important to note that the existing building is not going to be torn down, but it will be upgraded.

“The existing bars and restaurants will also be updated. The 18-hole golf course will remain, with some minor reconfiguration, and there will be additional venues and amenities such as a reimagined beach club and a new outdoor events lawn.”

The owner claimed that the redevelopment “will result in tremendous economic benefit to Bermuda” — including a $312.9 million impact on construction and $462.2 million “flowing to local business“.

The overall impact of the units on the economy over 20 years was estimated at $846 million, according to figures credited to the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Breaking ground: construction work on the Fairmont Southampton will get under way shortly (File photograph)

The advertisement added: “Incorporating these residential and tourism units will not only contribute to the building of the amenities that are a critical part of this project, but will also attract local and foreign buyers, resulting in a greater economic spend for the community, including increased year-round spend for local service providers.

“Once the SDO is approved, we can begin the design and pre-construction stage of the project. Currently, we anticipate the development will be executed in three phases. The ultimate timing will be based on the market demand for comparable real estate and will be over a longer duration, estimated at 15 to 20 years.

“In Phase 1, villa owners will have the opportunity to include their property in the hotel rental programme. Construction of Phase 1 will not begin until well after the hotel renovations have commenced.”

Addressing environmental concerns, the company said that it had hired “expert consultants”, understood to be Bermuda Environmental Consulting, to carry out an impact study.

The advert stated: “We will take all reasonable steps to maintain the overall environment while undertaking this project“.

A first consultation session with residents of the surrounding neighbourhood is understood to have taken place last night.

The hotel, which accommodated 28.5 per cent of visitors that arrived on the island before the Covid-19 pandemic, shut its doors in 2020, making more than 700 employees redundant.

While the new owner initially said it intended to reopen the hotel in April 2022, that timeline has repeatedly been pushed back.

David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, said in the Budget Statement on Friday that MPs will soon be asked to approve legislative changes to strengthen “the protections for the Government of Bermuda in the provision of the $75 million guarantee of local lending to support the redevelopment project”.

He added that in preparation for the commencement of construction, the developers have been repricing construction costs.

He said: “The volatility in capital markets delayed the confirmation of financing, but it is a testament to the developers and their investors’ confidence in Bermuda that the capital for the project’s completion has been secured.”

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Published February 22, 2023 at 4:12 pm (Updated February 22, 2023 at 4:12 pm)

Developer reveals building plans for Fairmont Southampton property

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