Developer Bobby Ginn says he has found a partner to refinance the multi-billion-dollar mega-resort on West End, Grand Bahama, but since Ginn’s new partner hasn’t met with Credite Suisse – which holds the outstanding debt on the project – Prime Minister Perry Christie says it isn’t clear that the development can restart anytime soon.
Mr. Christie told Journal Business he has made some progress with Ginn officials.
“We are meeting with all of the developers, including the Ginn developers, with a view of seeing whether or not we can this development started. We’ve even met with Bobby Ginn, who said he has someone coming in who has the capacity to refinance the entire deal, and we have indicated to him that if in fact that could happen we would be delighted,” he said.
“But it is a question of meeting with Credit Suisse and the other owners and being able to get a meeting and moving forward. We are going to be meeting with these owners with a view to seeing whether or not they have people who are expressing interest. I was there on Saturday to look at the development and it is just sitting there, and we need to activate it, and we have to activate it soon.”
Prime Minister Christie said now that his government is back in power he’s not willing to give up on the West End property anytime soon.
“It has such great promise because it is only 48 nautical miles from Palm Beach and with six million people living around Palm Beach. So the original vision is still here and we have to find somebody or some group who could be sufficiently inspired and motivated to make this work because I think it would be so good for Grand Bahama and so good for The Bahamas,” he said.
While in office, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said that he had very limited discussions with Ginn about the property, which could have possibly pumped life into Grand Bahama’s ailing economy.
Last year, Mr. Ingraham revealed that Credit Suisse spent about $505 million on the project – $200 million of which was spent on infrastructure.
He reported that the Credit Suisse-led syndicate wanted to develop the 1,476 acres it would inherit in accordance with the plans approved in the original 2005 Heads of Agreement. The former prime minister said it had hired Canadian-based Replay Resorts to help move the project forward.
Mr. Ingraham also said last year that the Christie administration in 2005 granted the Ginn developer investment incentives not permissible in law. He added that at the time, the government had to enact the 2008 ‘Ginn Act’ to give them effect in statute.
These incentives largely related to Stamp Duty rates applicable on real estate sales at the Ginn Sur Mer project. Chief among them was the clause that sales of unimproved lots, worth $250,000 or more, would enjoy a two percent duty rate – down from the then-10 percent rate.
This clause, though, stated that the two percent Stamp Duty rate would only last for five years from the date that the first sale worth $250,000 or more took place.
In 2008, Ginn defaulted on a massive construction loan, leaving the bank Credit Suisse a substantial amount of property within the development.
Credit Suisse and Lubert Adler – the company that provided the initial funding for the project – recently removed Ginn as developer, along with the name Ginn Sur Mer.
Ginn Sur Mer was originally envisioned as a palatial $4.9 billion master-planned development, with 1,400 single home sites and more than 4,000 condo hotel units.
Other amenities were to include a Jack Nicklaus golf course, grand canal and water taxis and gondolas, a 55,000 ft. casino, mega-yacht marina, a private airport, full-service spa, fitness center, championship tennis facility, designer stores, fine dining restaurants, extensive convention and meeting space, two multi-acre parks, various pools and exclusive beach clubs.
Officials said during the sales process from 2006 to 2008, some 220 lots were sold before sales were suspended due to the loan default.