By Alison Lowe
Nassau Guardian Business Editor
NASSAU, Bahamas -- The developers behind a proposed $6.3 billion mixed-use resort and industrial project slated for East Grand Bahama have brought evidence to the government showing that they are engaged with partners who have “the capacity” to provide the funding for the project, a government minister has stated.
Both the government and the principal of the proposed $6.3 billion Blackwood Pointe Resort and Spa were in agreement on Thursday that the group behind the project appears to be gaining ground in their efforts to garner government approval for the mega-project.
Larry McDonough, principal of the would-be developers, Kylin International Group, projected that there would be a “very positive announcement” on the project within the next few weeks.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, also suggested progress has been made by the group, but confirmed that the government continues to remain ultimately unsatisfied at this point of their financial wherewithal.
He said that during a recent meeting those behind the proposed resort “brought some parties to the table that certainly have the capacity to provide the funding” for the mega-project.
“It’s just a matter now of having concrete documents in place that support that financing is available,” said Rolle, adding: “It looks as if they are moving closer.”
The next anticipated move is for government officials to travel to China “shortly” for further meetings, said Rolle.
McDonough confirmed that his group recently had a meeting with the government and a task force which he said has been assigned by Prime Minister Perry Christie to deal with the project proposal. The meeting, headed by “excellent leadership and direction” from Christie, according to McDonough, is believed to have taken place in the last month.
Suggesting that the Chinese government may have an interest in the project, McDonough said: “Kylin and its partners will be arranging by invitation to the prime minister and the task force/government officials to join us in Beijing for an official signing and further discussions with our partners and other government officials about this cooperation that will be conducted on Grand Bahama.
“At this moment many of the details still need to be prepared as it is a logistical operation in itself to have all parties available. We will be working with our aviation partners Air France Consulting on some of the logistical components.”
In a March interview with Guardian Business, McDonough said that, if approvals for the project were given this year, a 2018 opening for the Blackwood Resort and Spa project would be feasible. This would ultimately require the hiring of 9,000 to 10,000 people.
He dismissed what he called “hearsay” about the project, which some have suggested is simply too huge to be realistically feasible, telling this newspaper, “We’re not going anywhere”.
The project is proposed to include a cruise port, airport, transportation system, industrial park, hospital, power plant, schools, housing, government buildings and six hotels including 2,900 rooms.
Under the terms of the deal, McDonough said he expects to put in 15 percent of the financing for the project, while the remainder would be put forward by a “large top tier financial institution”.
McDonough has had a proposal for a major project in Grand Bahama before the government since prior to the most recent general election.
Guardian Business understands that efforts by McDonough to obtain approval from the Ingraham administration for his project, which has since evolved to become more large-scale and diversified, ran aground after the government was not able to obtain independent verification of his funding from Chinese financial institutions.
The government’s efforts in this regard are understood to have included making a formal outreach to the Chinese government on the matter.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian