ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- A Grenadian investor had approached the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration about developing the Riviera lands as the then government considered increasing the tourism room-stock and mulled over the future of the country’s prime beachfront property, former tourism minister Peter David has revealed.
“This is not a new issue,” David said in a local TV interview.
“We just do not have enough (room-stock). We welcome Sandals and I’m sure there are going to be other hotels.”
The government-owned Riviera lands at Grand Anse were leased to the Nyack family in 1962.
However, the current NNP administration has repossessed the five-acre property, with a promise to compensate the Nyacks for the remaining 16 years on their lease.
But two family members, who were resident on the property, are demanding compensation upfront. They also have been asking for more time to find alternative living accommodation.
David said during his tenure as tourism minister, the former leaseholder and an investor visited him to discuss plans for the property but they never delivered on the project ideas.
Now, local businessman Danny Fakhre is said to have entered into negotiations with the NNP administration to establish a five-star hotel at the Riviera site.
David said Fakhre had also met with him, at the time he was tourism minister, as well as with former minister of lands, Alleyne Walker, and other representatives of government, about developing the property.
“The discussions on Danny Fakhre acquiring that property for the development of a hotel are not new. It is something that took place for a couple of years,” said David. “It is now coming to fruition.”
David, although admitting he was not intimately acquainted with the details of the government’s acquisition of the property, said his “understanding is that there was a lease to someone who leased the property to build a hotel; a hotel was not built”.
Given that the hotel construction had not taken place, David believes government decided to acquire the property, saying the administration was “well within its rights to do so”.
“In speaking with attorneys and other persons involved and, as a former tourism minister myself, I think the government is well within its rights; and, one might argue, it’s the correct thing to do,” said David, a lawyer and former Town of St George MP.
He is confident that government and the Nyacks’ attorneys would be able to agree on “what is the correct amount” of compensation to be paid to the former leaseholder.
The Riviera lands – one of the most beautiful parts of Grand Anse Beach – were not leased for the residential purposes of anyone, said David.
“We cannot just allow our beachfront property to remain unoccupied when there is certainly a demand for more rooms,” he said.
“That piece of property must be developed for tourism, as simple as that. A decision to transform that vacant piece of land into some kind of tourism venture must be welcomed by all of us; not only because it would benefit the tourism industry but because it would benefit Grenada as a whole.”
David, who has known Fakhre since childhood, expects him to meet his commitment to build a hotel at the Riviera site.
“I have nothing but good things to say about Danny Fakhre not only as a person but also as a Grenadian investor,” said David.
“Danny Fakhre is not only able but I believe, as a person, that Danny Fakhre has Grenada’s interest at heart. I would welcome any investment by him, particularly in the tourism industry. I have nothing ill to say about him or his family.”