The end could soon be in sight for the ‘naughty issue’ that continues to retard progress on the stalled Four Seasons project at Clearwater Bay, St Michael.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy said the legal issues that are holding back the project are likely to be untangled by the end of this year.
As he has done in the past, Sealy said precious little about the legal hurdles that have plagued the on-again-off-again multimillion dollar project.
“That is a very naughty issue. It is complicated and it is something that we sincerely look forward to seeing something meaningful happen later on in the year,” Sealy told journalists yesterday on the sidelines of the 31st annual Sales Congress for the Caribbean Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
It was in February that Sealy had said that a group that was interested in the property was at “a very advanced stage” of negotiations with Government for concessions, and with the various legal interests, although he could not say when Government was expected to divest its interest in the 32-acre property.
However, he was also cautious on the issue of a resumption date, stating then that it was not clear if all sides would get out of the legal maze in time for work to commence this year.
“It is not an easy scenario where you had the investors in the project versus the owners who had bought into the villas and a whole legal labyrinth had to be ironed out,” the minister said at the time.
The Central Bank of Barbados in January said Government was expected to take in $40 million from the sale of its interest in the Four Seasons property, which it took over after the developers had failed to attract the necessary funding.
The luxury hotel and villa project began running into difficulties in late 2008, and in December 2009 Government announced it would guarantee a medium-term bridging loan of US$60 million, most of which was to refinance and reschedule debts to some 300 creditors, the majority of which were Barbadian businesses.
The balance of the loan was to pay interest and fund the development and planning work that new financiers would have required. The loan was provided by ANSA Merchant Bank in June 2010 and extended to 2013.