Businessman Mark Maloney has dismissed outright, claims by President of the Barbados National Trust (BNT) Peter Stevens that the Hyatt backers misled the organisation regarding the true nature of the revised hotel project.
Four days ago, Stevens – in an interview with Barbados TODAY – accused the developers of misleading the trust into believing that once additional land space was acquired by Government, the height and overall scale of the hotel for Bay Street, in the City would be reduced.
Stevens said the trust had therefore agreed to the construction of the newly-designed US$175 million Hyatt Ziva based on those objectives, only now to find his organisation had been “railroaded”.
But today, a disappointed Maloney was adamant it was the national trust president who was misleading the country.
“First of all, we never misled anybody. Let me make that clear. We don’t mislead anyone. That statement is an insult to our professional integrity. We never, at any stage told anyone that by acquiring Mrs Ram’s place, the project would be smaller,” the prominent developer told Barbados TODAY, adding “how can we acquire more land and do a smaller project?”
“We said the project would be spread over a larger portion of land. What we did do is we have separate buildings. Before we had one building going around and now we have separated the buildings,” he stated.
The leading building contractor went on to explain that with the new design, there are different sized buildings which have been scaled on the extra land recently purchased.
Maloney then sought to clear the air on the controversy surrounding the height of the revised project.
“This notion that the buildings are 18 storeys tall…is misleading people. So if he [Stevens] wants to speak about misleading, the misleading is coming from his end,” he said.
“Storeys are relative to height. Look at the height of the building. The Central Bank is 165 feet tall, but it is 10 storeys. Our 18-storey building is 190 feet. So we have an 18-storey building that is only 25 feet taller than the Central Bank…but it is because the Central Bank’s floor to floor heights are so high.”
“So in today’s world we could build another 10 storeys in the Central Bank for the same height. So we could have a 20-storey building the same height as the Central Bank. So don’t have these people mislead the public that the height of the building…the 18 storeys, is a big problem,” Maloney told Barbados TODAY.
However, the developer said the Hyatt buildings are not all 18 storeys. He pointed out that there is a ten-storey and a 15-storey building.
“And the buildings are moved around on a larger property, so it doesn’t look like one big building which was there before. Not that what we did before was wrong, but it was what we did on a smaller property,” he added.
Maloney said Stevens has been involved in the discussions regarding the project because he is part of the planning talks. “Nothing of the sort was ever raised in the planning meetings that we had. So we have been very opened in everything…and if he wanted to raise those points he should have raised them in the meeting in the presentation we did with the planning [department],” the developer insisted.
He also responded to concerns expressed by Stevens who claimed that the construction of piers with restaurants out to sea would result in that portion of the sea being privatized.
But Maloney said that any such construction could only be done in accordance with the policy of the Government, noting that other properties have piers in the sea as well and the sea bed belongs to the Crown.
He also dismissed the trust president’s suggestion that the new Hyatt would exclude some local businesses under its all-inclusive brand.
“That’s not true. There is nothing exclusive about the project,” Maloney stressed.
In fact, he told Barbados TODAY that nothing would be done by his company, Vision Development Incorporated that is not in keeping with the social, economic, marine or heritage good of Barbados.
He was emphatic that the project fell within the Government’s Master Plan for the area including the Pierhead and Carlisle Bay Development.
“We have hired all of the professionals that we need to hire to do all of the studies and to ensure we take into account everything that comes out of those studies in building this development.”
“We will make whatever changes that we need to make that are in keeping with what comes out of the studies and what makes sense from a heritage, a social, an economic and a marine perspective to make sure this project is good for Barbados now and for the future,” Maloney assured.