Monday, June 11, 2018
A Canadian-based developer aims to build a new 120-room hotel, add 75 marina slips and upgrade the airport and golf course within 24 months once it closes its acquisition of the former Ginn sur mer.
Skyline Investments, a Toronto-based real estate investor/developer, with $500m in assets and a focus on hotel and resort development, broke cover to unveil its plans for the 2,012-acre property in Grand Bahama's West End. Tribune Business sources have suggested its purchase is scheduled to close as early as Friday, with a Heads of Agreement signing soon after.
The new development will be known as Bahama Bay by Grand Palm Beach Acquisitions Ltd, and was announced at a Town Hall meeting in West End on Friday. Skyline Investments executives presented their plans to residents, with Tribune Business having exclusively revealed the Toronto-based developer as the buyer in September 2017.
Government representatives were also in attendance to listen to residents and gather feedback on the 10-year development plan. K. Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister, responded to questions along with minister of state for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thomson, and local MP, Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe.
Also present were Philip Weech, director of the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology Commission (BEST), and director of investments at the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA), Candia Ferguson.
Skyline Investments said it was planning a 'Smart City' that will act as a headquarters for high technology start‐ups, personal businesses and consultancies. It is aiming to develop a fully integrated green community through its use of use of sustainable energy sources, recycling, efficient and low environmental impact construction methods.
With over $2 billion to be invested, Derek Gape, director of operations for the West End project, said initial goals for the first 24 months of the project include creating a new 120-room hotel with commercial retail spaces and amenities; redeveloping and reopening the West End airport; adding an additional 75 slips to the existing marina at the current Old Bahama Bay site; and bringing the golf course into full operation.
Gil Blutrich, Skyline's chairman, said: "We are proud to have the opportunity to develop Bahama Bay and be part of the West End community. We believe that that this development will have a significant impact on Grand Bahama. We know that both the West End community and Skyline will grow together and become a major player in the hospitality industry in The Bahamas".
Tribune Business sources previously suggested that negotiations have involved the added complication of dealing with two vendors. What would have been the core project was owned by Lubert-Adler, the Philadelphia-based investment bank that was Ginn's financing partner.
It held 280 acres that were earmarked as the site for the hotels and casino, and its landholdings also include key amenities such as the airport, marina and utilities.
Lubert-Adler also controlled the Old Bahama Bay Resort, the golf course, the existing marina, commercial facilities such as the restaurants and retail, and associated operational facilities.
But a Credit Suisse-led lending syndicate took possession of the remaining 1,476 acres at the former Ginn sur mer project after Ginn Development Company defaulted on its $276 million loan.
It effectively inherited the real estate component of the Ginn project, and hired Replay Resorts to master plan the property. Lubert Adler and Credit Suisse have worked together in the belief this is the best way to maximise their exit price - and potential recovery - by selling the former Ginn sur mer as one.
Skyline Investments, which is listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, describes itself on its website as having $500 million in assets. It specialises in real estate investment and development related to the hotel/resort industry.
It describes itself as "sourcing new acquisition opportunities to grow and diversify its cash flow in North America", with an emphasis on geographical diversification.
Current properties include the Hyatt Regency at The Arcade in Cleveland; the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel; Bear Valley Ski Resort in California, plus a variety of mixed-use resort developments throughout Canada.
Skyline's plans for the Ginn sur mer property are unclear, although its development will likely be less high-rise than the original developer's.
Gil Blutrich, chairman of Skyline Investments
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National government representatives were on hand with Skyline International executives to gather feedback and respond to questions from local residents of West End about the planned Bahama Bay project, which will include commercial retail, residential, hospitality and marina facilities. [Photo: Keen i Media Ltd]
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More than 130 local residents of Grand Bahama packed the St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in West End to hear from representatives of Skyline Investments about their planned residential, retail and hospitality project. [Photo: Keen i Media Ltd]