Ten weeks after Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy gave the assurance that construction work would begin on the controversial Hyatt Centric Resort on Bay Street, The City “in a matter of weeks”, the primary developer is expressing frustration over the fact that the 15-storey project has yet to get off the ground.
“Speak about frustrations, yes. It is never nice to have to deal with situations that really could be, and should be avoided. But it’s the nature of doing business,” Mark Maloney, the head of Vision Development Inc, admitted to Barbados TODAY.
The $200 million project, a vital part of Government’s plan for economic recovery, has been the subject of a court case for the past several months, with attorney-at-law David Comissiong challenging Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s decision to give the go ahead for the proposed project.
Stuart, who is the Minister responsible for Town & Country Planning, has challenged Comissiong’s request for a judicial review of the permission granted to Maloney to build the multi-storey hotel, arguing that the social activist did not have either a financial or legal leg on which to stand in the matter.
It was on September 29 that Sealy told supporters of the incumbent Democratic Labour Party at a luncheon lecture that “construction is expected to commence, as I understand it, in another couple of weeks, and that too will give us 220-rooms and employ 250 people on completion”.
The minister made no mention at the time of the ongoing litigation.
High Court Judge Sonia Richards, who has heard the case, has yet to issue a ruling, much to Maloney’s dismay.
“Some people have strong feelings on things, and you have to accept that. We are in a democratic society and we go through our democratic process. But we are patient. We are persistent and we are persevering and hopefully the outcome would allow us to fulfill our vision as developers to Barbados and to the tourism industry,” Maloney told Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of the launch of the United Insurance Driving Skills Academy at the Bushy Park racing circuit in St Philip.
Still he was putting a positive spin on things, arguing that the project itself had not been delayed, but that projects of this nature were “extremely” complex and involved the design, execution, financing and legal components.
“We have been progressing on the developers’ side. We still have a few things we have to complete and we are hoping to commence as soon as those are over,” he said.
Maloney said the setback would not deter him from seeking to attract other hotel brands to Barbados.
In fact, he said a number of other such properties were in the pipeline, and that he would be involved, although he chose not to name them.
“Absolutely, we are looking at others and other opportunities. We are hoping that they would materialize. We will continuously work on them and go through all the processes just as we did with the Hyatt. We have not circumvented any process. We have followed every process and everything that is required by the law and we are continuing to do so; and on future projects, make sure we continue to do the same that we are doing now,” he stressed.
Pressed to reveal any of the new hotel brands being contemplated, Maloney would only point to “several on the south and west coast we are looking at”.
Meantime, Comissiong today reiterated the point that the developers were free to start construction since there was never an injunction as had been reported previously.
However, he explained that it would be at their own risk, considering the possibility that the ruling could be in his favour.