Last updated: 10:21 AM ET, Tue August 23 2016

Bahamas PM: Baha Mar Construction To Resume in September

Hotel & Resort | Brian Major | August 23, 2016

Bahamas PM: Baha Mar Construction To Resume in September

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The Bahamas Supreme Court late yesterday approved an agreement between the country’s government and the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China to resume construction at the stalled $3.5 billion Baha Mar resort in September, said Perry Christie, the Bahamas prime minister, in a televised address Monday.

The shuttered resort is to open by the winter of 2017, Christie said, under operation by a “world-class hotel and casino operator” he did not identify. Under the agreement, Bahamas-based contractors who remain unpaid for work performed on the project will receive “a significant portion or possibly all” of their claims and thousands of one-time Baha Mar employees will receive outstanding payments due them.

The agreement “represents a signal achievement for the Bahamas and a milestone in the troubled history of Baha Mar,” Christie said during his address, in which he was joined by government officials in the nation’s cabinet room. Christie did not take questions from the media following the address.

The Bahamas prime minister said his goal for the last 20 months has been to “find a solution for the completion of the Baha Mar project” and meet objectives including ensuring construction “would be resumed as quickly as possible,” ensuring the development’s casino and attached hotel, convention center and golf course “would open before the end of the 2016-2017 winter season” and settling payment of claims to Bahamian creditors and contractors. “We have achieved all of these objectives,” he said.

EXIM Bank will fund “all remaining construction costs to complete the project,” said Christie, with the project’s original contractor, China Construction America (CCA) completing the work. The Chinese bank will also “resolve outstanding claims with its suppliers and sub-contractors,” he said.

The shuttered resort has been in receivership since last October after disputes between original developer Sarkis Izmirlian and CCA led the opening date to be delayed from December 2014 to March 2015 and later to May 2015. Said to be 97 percent complete, the resort has since been up for sale with some groups expressing interest but a sale has yet to be completed.

In a May Nassau Guardian report, Christie said potential buyers for the resort have secured bids from “a number of reputable investors” although he did not identify any of the would-be purchasers.

Christie was joined at Monday’s press briefing by representatives of former Baha Mar employees and Bahamian Contractors Association officials. Under the agreement, commercial groups and retail companies will be permitted to retain their Baha Mar leases and concessions, Christie said.

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