PM: Interest High In Ginn Development By Candia Dames Interest is high in the $4.7 billion Ginn project planned for West Grand Bahama, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie, who showed off the master plan for the planned development in the House of Assembly as he wrapped up debate on the 2006/2007 budget last Wednesday night. “I’m able to say now with great confidence, Mr. Speaker, that just as [opposition members] speak about Ginn, I expect [for] these investors to demonstrate to them that they have the means to begin this work in a very meaningful way, much sooner than even I expected, just to be able to show this country what they are able to do,” said Prime Minister Christie, who held up architectural drawings of what the final project is expected to look like.
The prime minister said Grand Bahamians are excited about the development.
“All of the persons who live in Grand Bahama, most certainly the people of the Port Authority, insofar as the Ginn investment is concerned, they have communicated to the government [that] they see it as an important investment; they see it as a defining investment, Mr. Speaker. Let me say it is an investment that is subject to the closest scrutiny by the BEST Commission,” he said.
The prime minister also informed that the Florida-based Ginn company has 175,000 financially qualified people in its overall database, with 4,000 property owners in Florida.
Typically, he said, Ginn spends tens of millions of dollars on an event to launch a project and sells 50 percent of the properties at that launch event.
Through Ginn advertising, 2,000 people have already paid $1,000 to indicate their interest in lots in West End, Grand Bahama, according to the prime minister.
“The Bahamas government added a new feature to Ginn’s usual marketing efforts by insisting - and Ginn readily agreed - Mr. Speaker, that Bahamian real estate agents be involved in all of the land sales in Grand Bahama. And so, Mr. Speaker, that in itself is a wonderful addition to this,” he said.
The prime minister reported that of the 2,000 people who have paid a $1,000 deposit, there has been allocation provided for 180 such persons in parcel 12 (the beachfront parcel adjacent to Old Bahama Bay)
“I am advised that from the point of view of indications they have brought deposits up to $50,000,” Mr. Christie said. “Next week, letters will be sent to each reservation holder with additional information on the lot and project as well as the necessary applications and registrations for foreign ownership of a Bahamian lot. This package will be accompanied by a call for a further deposit up to a total of 15 percent of the purchase price to be received by Ginn.”
Ginn expects to later send out a final purchase contract to each client, he added.
The prime minister also told House members that the Department of Lands and Surveys has granted approvals for the first subdivision planned, parcel 12, and access roads. Ginn was still awaiting approvals from the Ministry of Works and the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology Commission.
“The Ginn company has begun only those activities at West End that have been approved under its heads of agreement,” Mr. Christie noted.
He said that since December 9, 2005, the company has been approved to clear its 1,957- acre site and burn debris as necessary following all guidelines set by the Department of Environmental Health Services.
Since February, Ginn has cleared and burned approximately 1,400 acres of the 1,600 acres located between Queen’s Highway and the south shore, according to the prime minister.
He informed that the company has been approved to excavate certain specifically identified ponds, canals and marinas in accordance with the master plan approved by the West End Town Planning Committee, but to date, no excavation has occurred.
Ginn has also received approval to install office trailers on site for construction administration, sales presentations, site security and Bahamas Customs and Immigration.
Several temporary dirt roads have also been created, Mr. Christie reported.
In addition, Ginn has obtained permission from relevant ministries to use the West End airstrip located on Ginn’s property as a port of entry for its non-commercial flights on a very limited basis. Ginn has cleared and stripped the runway for such use, the prime minister said.
When he led debate on the budget on June 7, he reported at the time that Ginn’s investment had jumped from $3.7 billion to $4.9 billion.
He announced that the number of planned dwelling units had increased from 5,300 to 6,800.
Up to that point, Ginn had spent $70 million on its Bahamas project, the prime minister added. He also said that Bahamian contractors had been engaged to perform the clearing of 70 percent of the land.
In the last three months, a total of $6 million was spent in this area alone, Mr. Christie said.
Additionally, he informed that in the last five months since the signing of the heads of agreement with the government, Ginn saw its employment of Bahamians grow from two to 70 as of early June, “a very quick start on their way to providing some 5,700 jobs needed to staff this project.”
Ginn has opened its Grand Bahama administration office in Freeport within the large CIBC building, and was completing the finishing touches on 10,000 square feet of space at its site in West End to accommodate its construction and sales, House members were told.
This is in addition to the opening of temporary customs and immigration offices at the re-opened West End airport.
Mr. Christie added that a 14-seat commuter airplane has been purchased solely for use of the Bahamas project, and flies customers daily from Ginn’s staging airport hangar in Flagler County, Florida to Grand Bahama.
He also announced that Ginn had budgeted $14 million in sales and marketing of the project in 2006 alone, and the company estimates that once it receives the necessary development approvals it will spend between $6 million and $12 million per month on the project.
The prime minister said two weeks ago that the project will have “a much greater impact than even we imagined.”
The Ginn development at West End will be developed over 20 years, according to the company’s agreement with the Government of the Bahamas.