June 09, 2006 – 08:38 Ginn To Be Like Atlantis… Someday Don’t hold your breath, pie-in-the-sky Ginn resort will take 20 years to complete.
Mr Christie told the House of Assembly yesterday that the estimated value of the project, to be built in West End, Grand Bahama over 20-year period, has increased from $3.2 billion to $4.9 billion.
As a result, he said, the impact on the Grand Bahama and national economies would be much greater than anticipated.
“It is an extraordinary project,” he said. “If you wanted to draw a correct analogy in terms of size and dimension and impact, then it would be similar to that of Atlantis.”
The project is the brainchild of Orlando-based investor Robert Ginn who wants to transform over 2,150 acres at the Old Sammons Estates in West End into 1,000 single-family lots, a 400-unit condo-style hotel, a marina, golf course and a host of other amenities. It has the potential to turn the quiet, economically-struggling settlement, hit by three hurricanes over the past two years, into a tourist Mecca.
Last June, a Ginn employee told The Guardian that Mr Ginn was more interested in pursuing another deal in Mexico because The Bahamas project was encountering too many delays. The employee said one of those delays occurred when the Prime Minister was hospitalised after suffering a mild stroke a month earlier.
Now, the project is in full swing, according to Mr Christie, who said, “The Ginn company has come back to The Bahamas to inform us of the significant increase in its planned investment. Last week, the Ginn project was being advertised in the Wall Street Journal.” He added, “To date, Ginn has spent $70 million on its Bahamas project. Bahamian contractors have been engaged to perform the clearing of 70 percent of the project’s 2000 acres. In just the last three months, a total of $6 million was spent in this alone.”
The Prime Minister further noted that in the last five months, since the signing of the Heads of Agreement, Ginn had increased the number of Bahamian employees from 2 to 70. The company is estimating it would need 5,700 workers to start the project.
Further, Ginn has opened an office in Freeport and is reportedly putting the finishing touches on 10,000 square feet of space at its site at West End to accommodate its construction and sales office.
“This is in addition to the opening of temporary Customs and Immigration offices at the re-opened West End Airport,” said Mr Christie. “A 14-seat commuter plane has been purchased solely for the use of The Bahamas project.” The plane flies customers daily from an airport hanger in Flagler county (just south of Jacksonville) Florida to Grand Bahama.”
Significantly, Ginn has reportedly budgeted $14 million is sales and marketing on the project in this year alone. It estimates that once it receives the necessary environmental approvals, it would spend between $6 and $12 million a month on the project.
Mr Christie said those approvals would come from The Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (BEST).
“And they have sold their first tranche of land about 140 lots, at an average price of $1 million each,” Mr Christie revealed. “That is an extraordinary demonstration of what can in fact take place and what will take place on this property.”
By: MINDELL SMALL, The Nassau Guardian