by Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands -- The Hartling Group and DECCO Ltd have announced a strategic partnership to commence construction on the luxury condo resort project The Shore Club in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. DECCO Ltd is a privately owned construction management and services company. Based in the Cayman Islands, it is part of the Dart Enterprises organisation.
Dart Enterprises is a holding company involved in several projects in the Cayman Islands, including the Camana Bay town development. It is currently embroiled in controversy and an associated legal action over the relocation of a major road on Grand Cayman to accommodate a Dart development project.
Dart Enterprises is owned by billionaire Kenneth Dart, who along with his brother Robert owns Dart Container Corporation in the United States, which is the world's largest manufacturer of foam cups and containers, producing about as many as all competitors combined.
The Dart brothers gave up their US citizenship and moved to the Cayman Islands.
No strangers to controversy, in 2001 the Dart brothers were accused by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of improperly billing$11.6 million of personal security costs to Dart Container. Half the money went for corporate aircraft. The IRS asked for $4 million more for 1996 and 1997 taxes.
In 2002 the Dart brothers and their companies paid $26 million in back taxes. In 2003 the Internal Revenue Service took the brothers to court, saying they owed an additional $19 million in 1998 and 1999 taxes.
In May 2013, 50 Argentine tax agents raided the local Dart Container subsidiary on alleged tax evasion charges. The Argentine tax authority claimed that the firm imported polystyrene beads at inflated prices, thus avoiding taxable gains through the unfair transfer pricing scheme.
Kenneth Dart is also well known as a “vulture capitalist”, a metaphor comparing such investors to vultures patiently circling, waiting to pick over the remains of a rapidly weakening company or, in the case of sovereign debt, debtor country.
Dart Management, his vulture fund -- a term commonly used to refer to a private fund that invests such debt -- claimed $700 million in a lawsuit against the government of Argentina.
Last year, Dart Management reportedly collected over US$500 million from the Greek government at a time when the country and its people were in dire economic straits.
In the past, Dart is said to have taken some $600 million from Brazil following its 1993 crisis.
Now, DECCO will provide construction management services commencing in late fall 2013 for the first phase of the nine-acre Shore Club development on Long Bay Beach, which includes 38 luxury condos and associated amenities, with a market value nearing US$80 million.
The Hartling Group has sold approximately 60% of Phase One.
The Shore Club will be one of the first major projects to commence in the Turks and Caicos Islands since 2009 and is seen to be a reflection of bolstered investor confidence in the country.
When complete, the Shore Club will bring to market in excess of US$100 million of oceanfront real estate, offering condominiums ranging in price from US$1.3 million to $4.5 million, private villas starting at US$5.4 million, as well as a fully appointed resort with spa, restaurants and other recreational facilities.
Stan Hartling, CEO and founder of the Hartling Group, commented on the significance of the newly-formed relationship with DECCO.
“Having DECCO as a strategic partner is an immense sign of confidence in the Shore Club product and the Turks and Caicos Islands,” he explained. “We are thrilled to collaborate on this project with another organization that brings the same passion for construction excellence, intelligent design and customer service to every project.”
DECCO confirmed the project is part of a new regional focus for the Cayman Islands based company.
“We are expanding our active investment portfolio, and we have a particular focus in the Caribbean region on opportunities in tourism-led markets. We are extremely pleased to be working with such a well-established local developer in the Turks and Caicos Islands,” explained DECCO CEO Cameron Graham.
Meanwhile, Hartling expects that the Shore Club deal will be a leading market indicator of further projects to be announced in Turks and Caicos in the near future.
“Our development team is extremely proud of the accomplishment we have made in making this project a great success and, most importantly, we are thrilled to be leading the way to what we see as a very bright future for the Turks and Caicos Islands,” he stated.
The Hartling Group has been successfully developing large-scale condo resort projects for over 16 years, including the Sands at Grace Bay and the international award-winning, Regent Palms.
The funding for the Shore Club project was arranged by Robi Das, managing director of NGKF Capital Markets.