PROFESSOR PERSAUDSAYS PRIVATE INVESTORS CONTINUE TO SHOW INTEREST IN PARADISE BEACH
By Emmanuel Joseph
Hopes for a revival of the controversial multi-million-dollar Four Seasons Hotel project at Paradise Beach, Black Rock, St Michael remain alive.
That is the word from the former executive chairman of Paradise Beach Limited and current Special Envoy to Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Investment and Financial Services, Professor Avinash Persaud.
He told Barbados TODAY that at least three private sector investors continue to show “serious” interest in resuscitating the stalled venture in which the Government and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) had invested close to US$70 million (BDS$140 million).
However, he explained that the sales process could not begin until the Court of Appeal rules on the contentious issue of ownership and declares that the Government has “free and clear” title to the prime west coast beachfront land with planning permission and engineering studies.
“That legal work has to be done first. It is in the court system. I believe it has progressed but not completed,” Persaud said.
“If you want someone to buy, you want them to buy without any sense of liability attached. The Government can’t proceed until there is clarity on that. So once there is clarity…there are about three or four serious interests.”
Persaud said the new investors were likely to revive the project from scratch.
“They would probably start afresh to [do] what is the right thing for the marketplace today,” he said, noting that under the original project half of the villas were half finished before construction ground to a halt in mid-February 2009 after the original developers ran out of money.
“To be honest with you, it is a sad state of affairs. Thieves have gotten away with some things. I think that the original plan was between 20 and 30 villas [to be built] and around 14 had begun and finished at various stages,” added the investment expert who was responsible for helping to secure financing to save the project.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Ryan Straughn said the Court of Appeal had heard the matter of ownership at the end of February “and parties are now awaiting the decision of the court”.
“Every week that passes by, no action can be taken by interested parties in order to get Bajans employed on the site for construction and then during the operational phase,” he told Barbados TODAY.
The Four Seasons project, in which famous record executive Simon Cowell and Formula One boss Eddie Jordan were among the early investors, was expected to see the construction of a 110-room hotel and 35 private villas.
The Government wrote off its $124 million investment in the beleaguered project as, according to Straughn at the time the write-off was disclosed in 2021, there was no clear path as to how it would get back any money.
However, he said the administration was working to restart the project and recoup the monies invested.