By Scieska Adderley
Nassau Guardian Business Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- A multibillion-dollar development in East Grand Bahama could be approved and “off to the races” as early as next month, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie, although major questions remain outstanding.
Prime Minister Perry Christie
On Friday, the prime minister outlined to Guardian Business that he is looking for Blackwood Point Resort and Spa principals to address four major areas at an upcoming meeting in September, which, if satisfied, would open the door for a swift approval.
These include whether the proposers have the financial means to construct the development, the identity of all of the development’s major players, and if it does indeed have support from the Chinese government.
Christie confirmed that a meeting between himself and the developers is scheduled for September 10.
“If they are able to fulfill those requirements, then we’re off to the races. Some of the proposals will revolutionize the economy of Grand Bahama,” he said in an interview shortly after he, along with members of his Cabinet, toured the final phase of the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA).
“It will just be an extraordinary addition. Traditionally, things have been happening in West Grand Bahama. So this will be a major experience for East Grand Bahama.”
“So those are things that we are looking forward to on September 10.”
According to Kenneth Russell, former FNM Cabinet minister and one of the principals of the Blackwood project, partners that are expected to meet in Nassau include the New York-based Plaza Hotel and Chinese-based partners and manufacturers.
The project’s principal developer is the Kylin International Group, headed by Lawrence McDonough. McDonough declined to comment when contacted by Guardian Business for comment last week.
Next month’s meeting will mark the sixth between the government and developers.
The multibillion-dollar resort project slated for East Grand Bahama would be comprised of several key features, including a touristic development, cruise ship terminal, a power station, an airport, medical facilities and manufacturing interests.
A 1,500-room casino hotel would headline the properties. The development would involve Crown land on the eastern side of the island.
Guardian Business also understands that Keith Bishop of Islands by Design has been asked to conduct the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the proposed project.
If approved, work could begin on the development by year’s end. Last week, Russell told Guardian Business that he believes the project has the potential to “end unemployment” for residents in northern Bahamas.
“Grand Bahama alone does not have the number of people we need to build and run this project, once it’s finished.
“With the amount of people that are being hired on this project, people living on some of the eastern and southern islands could come to Grand Bahama to work,” he said.
This development would be fantastic for the Grand Bahama economy as a whole and not just East End.”
“It will move East End into the 21st century and everyone will have a future that they can build towards, with future prospects for the people of East End and indeed Grand Bahama, because remember the spin-off impact on a new project is approximately 3 to 1.”
Christie said he is encouraged that “things are happening” in Grand Bahama that will give that island’s economy a much-needed economic boost and allow residents to have job security.
“That’s going to be important (for us) and we are looking forward to it,” he added.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian