Homeowner: They won’t Wynn ‘war of attrition’

  • Goodman’s Bay opponent pledges he won’t be forced to sell
  • Developer ‘bending over backwards’ but ‘he’ll never be happy’
  • Penthouse neighbour claims new ‘structural integrity damage’


Tribune Business Editor


The leading opponent of a 14-storey Goodman’s Bay penthouse project yesterday pledged he will not be ground down by the developer’s “war of attrition” and forced into selling his home.

Ed Hoffer, whose property borders Wynn Group’s construction site on its eastern boundary, told Tribune Business he remains committed to the “fight” and argued that the $100m development is another example of the Government favouring foreign direct investment (FDI) over the “health and well-being of the Bahamian people”.

In a series of written replies to this newspaper’s questions, he said recent demolition of a building formerly occupying the GoldWynn Penthouses location has “further damaged my property’s foundation and structural integrity” through a series of vibrations that made his home’s window glass and security bars shake.

Asserting that the developer failed to live up to the obligations set out in its demolition permit, which included setting up dust screens and geo-fencing to mitigate the environmental fall-out, Mr Hoffer told this newspaper he and his family are once again living in fear of the impacts once vertical construction ramps up.

He voiced particular concern that his property will fall victim to more frequent and extensive flooding, disclosing that recent heavy rainfall on June 8 “filled my garage and guest cottage”. Suggesting that his home has become “a more dangerous place to live” due to construction next door, Mr Hoffer also alleged that Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) supply was inadvertently disconnected for four days during the demolition.

However, Randy Hart, Wynn’s vice-president, told Tribune Business the developer is “bending over backwards” to minimise any impact from the penthouses’ construction and site preparation on Mr Hoffer and other neighbours. 

Asserting that the developer has “played by the rules”, and complied with the planning and environmental approvals processes, he suggested that Wynn will “never be able to satisfy Mr Hoffer but nevertheless we’ll do our best”.

“We’re following all the protocols, and we have an environmental management plan (EMP) programme and we have monitoring,” Mr Hart said of Wynn’s efforts to minimise any disturbance and/or pollution from the construction project. “Ed will never be satisfied with anything we do. This is just going to be an ongoing saga, no doubt.

“There was a challenge to the permits. Ultimately it failed. He [Mr Hoffer] brought a challenge to the permits, we went through due process and ultimately we prevailed. It was determined by the Subdivision and Development Appeals Board that the permit approvals were valid, and we also got our Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC).”

Obtaining the CEC was the first step mandated by the Appeal Board for Wynn to turn its “preliminary” site plan approval into a full one. It then also had to satisfy the Ministry of Works’ civil design unit before full site plan approval and a construction/building permit could be granted. This appears to have been done, as a building permit was attached to the fence surrounding the GoldWynn penthouses construction site.

“We have followed all the appropriate steps, we have played by the rules, gone through the process and Mr Hoffer has sour grapes and there’s not much we can do about that,” Mr Hart added. “We’ve done our best to take all proper measures to mitigate any nuisance to our adjacent neighbours as outlined in the EMP.

“Inherent in construction there’s going to be some nuisance. It’s unavoidable, but we’re bending over backwards to ensure that that is mitigated to the greatest extent. Our EMP is quite extensive and we’ve not taken any short cuts. We’ve done what we were mandated to do and have followed due process. We’ll never be able to satisfy Mr Hoffer but nevertheless we’ll do our best.”

Mr Hart said the first two to three months’ construction work on the penthouses will involve pouring the foundation. He added that Wynn and its contractors are using equipment to set the piles that will not cause any vibrations disturbing neighbouring properties.

Mr Hoffer, though, is far from convinced. While Mr Hart made no mention of any desire on Wynn’s part to acquire his property, Mr Hoffer - who mounted a vigorous but seemingly unsuccessful challenge to the developer’s bid to obtain the necessary planning and environmental approvals - asserted he has no plans to sell a home his family has owned for around 50 years.

“There is no ‘for sale’ sign on my property,” Mr Hoffer told Tribune Business. “They are using a war of attrition to get me to sell. Some things are about money until they are not. I choose people over development any day.

“A fight like mine is important for the Bahamian people because it is happening more regularly as the developers can see that The Bahamas government prefer foreign direct investment (FDI) as opposed to the health and well-being of the Bahamian populace.”

Asked what he would say to critics who argue that one man should not hold back an investment billed as creating 300 construction jobs, Mr Hoffer retorted: “This isn’t just about one man – this affects three generations who have to suffer the negative effects to their health and well-being as a result of the project.

“There were also many people who wrote in on the public consultation, adding their voices. It can happen to any seaside residential neighbourhood.” Stating that he would give both the Town Planning Committee and Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) “a low mark for effort” when it came to balancing his family’s interests, Mr Hoffer also challenged whether the approvals process was followed.

In particular, he queried why - unlike with Royal Caribbean’s $110m Paradise Island Beach Club project - no report has been produced detailing the questions raised during and after the public hearing on Wynn’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the developer’s answers to them.

The guidelines on the process for obtaining a CEC from DEPP, which have been seen by this newspaper, state in 4 c) that “after the completion of the public consultation phase the applicant [developer] must provide a comprehensive public consultation report which identifies every question or inquiry presented by the public regarding the project and the report submitted to the DEPP for review”.

Such a report, which was disclosed for the Royal Caribbean project, has never been made public in Wynn’s case even though the latter now has its CEC. “Where is the EIA report on the public consultation?” Mr Hoffer asked. “Did the persons who sent in their responses receive an e-mail on those concerns and if and how those concerns will be mitigated/managed?

“In my opinion, the Government agencies have not fully followed the process set out in the certificate of environmental clearance and EIA guidelines/regulations.” He declined, though, to comment on what his next moves might be in terms of challenging the penthouse project’s approvals via the courts.

Revealing that recent demolition work had a similar impact to construction of the GoldWynn Residences, the first phase of the developer’s Goodman’s Bay ambitions, Mr Hoffer told Tribune Business: “Excavators, graters and vibrating rollers from machinery that took place for seven consecutive weeks further damaged my property’s foundation and structural integrity and created more health hazards.

“The water in my pool moved from the vibrations and, at times, looked like a whirlpool. Water in glasses placed in and outside the house shook. The glass panes on my windows shook and made whistling noises. You could see the security bars secured into the walls shaking....

“Geo-fencing and dust screens were not installed as per the developer’s mitigation promises stated on their demolition permit. These included notifying the neighbour, installing hoarding and ensuring public utilities would not be disturbed at the site..... Every day my property is covered in dust, and the clean-up is costly and time-consuming. I’ve had to limit my pets from going out of doors.”

Pointing to the growing severity of flooding woes, Mr Hoffer said: “Since the developer’s phase one, there has been more flooding on West Bay Street. Now, with phase two, there will be even more. After heavy rain a few weeks ago, I sent DEPP photos of the increased water collection in front of my house and in my driveway.

“And now, with the heavy rains of June 8, the water has been frighteningly significant. In this last heavy rainfall over a few hours, the water collection on my property is now a severe hazard, mainly because of the elevation and the newly added sidewalk of approximately five feet into West Bay Street. I don’t want to be electrocuted. The recent rainwater filled my garage and guest cottage at the front of my house.”


observer2 says...

"People should know when they are conquered." Quintus. "Would you, Quintus? Would I?" Maximus.

From the movie Gladiator.

Posted 13 June 2024, 11:08 a.m. Suggest removal

trueBahamian says...

Lol. Mr. Hoffer is conquered? In these situations it's hard to say what's true and what's not. Unfortunately in this country if you pay a couple of people in the right positions, you don't have to worry about right and wrong, abiding by or breaking the law.

Posted 13 June 2024, 6:05 p.m. Suggest removal

Baha10 says...

Hart’s comment that Hoffer has “sour grapes”over this monstrosity of a building being paced next to his 50 year homestead is pretty insulting given that we all know Hart is a “Grease Man” who developed his trade in Exuma but perfected his craft since coming to the City… and we equally all know Bahamians love Grease whether it be on their Chicken or in their Pocket, particularly if the “Grease” is foreign, as there is more of it, and I’m afraid Ed you may be a well off Bahamian, but your Grease is limited compared to the Foreign Grease Randy has access to … and this regrettably is why your situation will soon be but another Chapter in the Tragedy known as Bahamian History … perhaps even under the sarcastic heading “Sour Grapes”

Posted 14 June 2024, 7:34 p.m. Suggest removal

ThisIsOurs says...

I'm certain this is exactly what Columbus said to the Arawaks, "*sour grapes*"

Something has to be done with rogue construction. To hear the stories of residents in Adelaide and this development having to endure construction noise every waking minute from 7AM to sometimes to 1AM, weekends, holidays. Layer upon later of dirt infiltration, having endured the same in the 2016 roadworks, it is not plessant. Jackhammers, grinding machinery, this mist be 100 times worse. **This is happening across from the PM's office**, and he probably smiling saying look at this wonderful economic activity then going home to his quiet neighbourhood **while his citizens are being tortured**

This property should not have been allowed so close to residential homes. But... we're whores... and its money

Posted 16 June 2024, 2:53 a.m. Suggest removal

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