BAHA MAR executives believe they will this week unlock the Government’s $48.2 million contribution to Cable Beach infrastructure works when the third, and final, stage of the casino hotel reaches 100 feet above grade.
Robert Sands, the $2.6 billion developer’s senior vice-president for external and government affairs, said that while Baha Mar and the Christie administration had held different interpretations of the 100-foot milestone, the former was confident any doubts would be removed “by the middle of this week”.
Disclosing that around $175 million worth of contracts had been awarded to Bahamian contractors, Mr Sands told Tribune Business that 60 per cent of “non-core” works on the Baha Mar project were now completed.
“Statistically, I would say without fear of contradiction that we’re getting close to the $175 million figure in terms of Bahamian contracts,” he said. “In terms of [Bahamian] persons, it’s getting close to 1,800.”
Baha Mar’s commitments to the Government are that it will generate a minimum 4,000 jobs for Bahamians during the $2.6 billion project’s construction phase, and provide a total $400 million worth of contracts for local contractors. It is close to hitting the 50 per cent, or half-way, mark on both those goals.
“Non-core works are about 60 per cent complete,” Mr Sands added, describing these as everything outside the main resort campus, which is the preserve of China State Construction. Non-core works have included the roads, bank and government buildings, along with the new golf course that has just started.
“There’s a lot more work going on,” Mr Sands said. “The sub-station for BEC is just about completed. We’ve also just about completed the re-building of the sewerage plant, which we had to complete for SuperClubs Breezes.”
He added that the planned demolition of the Wyndham’s ‘F’ and ‘J’ towers was “three-quarters” finished, and said: “The improvements to the beach in front of the Wyndham to make it a more contiguous beach, all that is in progress.”
Mr Sands disclosed that while Baha Mar felt it had met its Heads of Agreement obligation by July 9, 2012, when the casino tower first hit 100 feet high, the Government had wanted to be sure that all three stages - not just one - had reached this level.
As a result, the Christie administration had held off on releasing its share of the financing for the Cable Beach infrastructure and road re-routing, but Baha Mar is confident the issue will be laid to rest this week.
“Certainly by the middle of this week coming, we’re satisfied that the three sections of the casino - the entire casino tower - will be at 100 feet,” Mr Sands told Tribune Business.
“It’s in three parts. Two are definitely there, and the third phase will be there this week. As far as we are concerned, we had reached the milestone set in the Heads of Agreement some time ago. We believe we hit that milestone on July 9, but the Government wanted to be satisfied that not one section but three sections of the casino tower were at 100 feet.”
Hitting this milestone will see the Government release two payments to Baha Mar, one for $45.3 million and the other for $2.8 million, making for what Mr Sands said was a total of $48.2 million. The funds are the Government’s contribution to the project’s infrastructure and roadworks, in particular the new West Bay Street and Corridor 7.
As for Baha Mar’s search for a casino partner, Mr Sands said: “We continue to make good progress. We’re not rushing this initiative, and are making sure we do due diligence. I keep reminding people that our commitment to finding one is six months prior to opening.
“We’re achieving all our milestones at this point in time,” he added, “and there’s no indication we won’t meet the penultimate milestone of being open for the last quarter of 2014.”
Meanwhile, Mr Sands said Baha Mar and Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC) were conducting a review to “see if there could be a way forward” for the latter’s $102.3 million Seawater District Cooling plant, which had been designed to meet 90 per cent of the project’s air conditioning needs.
Mr Sands had previously told Tribune Business that Baha Mar had gone to ‘Plan B’, namely traditional forms of air conditioning, after OTEC failed to meet the original contract. “The terms we had originally set out between ourselves, they have not achieved,” he added.
And, with the Wyndham closed, Mr Sands said the Sheraton was hitting its forecast occupancy rates for September.
When the Caribbean's largest casino starts hiring you can be sure CASINO JOBS INTERNATIONAL will bring you all the news and how to apply at our CASINO JOBS INTERNATIONAL BLOG
Why not become a WORLD CASINO NETWORKS member today and get free membership until April 2013 by joining HERE - members can then access our members only CASINO JOBS INTERNATIONAL CURRENT VACANCIES area.
Why not go now and bookmark our WORLD CASINO NETWORKS casino industry round the clock news blog and see the rest of today's global casino news?
You can view and bookmark the blog at: www.worldcasinonetworks.com/blog