By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The son of the Grey Goose Vodka brand’s founder has denied to Tribune Business that he is leading an investor group seeking to purchase Exuma’s 80-acre February Point development, while acknowledging homeowner concern over the Hart family’s exit plans.
James Frank, who himself owns property at February Point, said there was “no truth at this time” to suggestions that he and other investors had formed a group to acquire February Point and take over its management/operations.
Multiple sources had told this newspaper that Mr Frank was spearheading a potential offer to acquire the development, located about a mile south of Georgetown on Great Exuma, one saying: “John Frank is looking with a group of others to pick it up and manage it.”
However, when contacted by Tribune Business, Mr Frank categorically denied that he was involved in any bid to acquire February Point, describing such suggestions as rumours.
“That’s not true at this time. We are currently not in negotiations to attempt to buy February Point,” he told this newspaper. “At this time, there’s no truth to that rumour.
When asked how his name came to be linked to ongoing efforts by the Hart family to sell February Point, he added: “I’m not sure. Rumours fly, other developers bid it up.”
Mr Frank’s late father, self-made billionaire Sidney Frank, founded Grey Goose Vodka in 1997 as a high-quality, premium-priced brand targeted primarily at the US market. He subsequently sold it to Bacardi in 2004 for $2.2 billion,
Grey Goose’s name has been linked in other media reports to both February Point and other potential investments in Exuma, possibly due to Mr Frank and his family’s previous ownership. It is unclear, though, based on his comments to Tribune Business, whether Grey Goose’s involvement is accurate.
Confirming that he owned real estate in February Point, Mr Frank acknowledged that he and other homeowners were concerned about the development’s future given the Hart family’s desire to sell.
“The homeowners are concerned about the future of February Point,” he told Tribune Business. “I do know the original developers want to exit the project.
“The concern, of course, as with any development, is that it continues to be a place we go to with our families on vacation, and it keeps the same nature, feel and experience we’ve come to enjoy. We’ll see what happens.”
The Hart family acquired the property from the original Swedish developer, and have been somewhat successful in building out the development, which is a mixture of fractional and home ownership.
Other Exuma-based sources confirmed the Harts were actively seeking to market and sell February Point, although no deal had been concluded yet. Multiple potential buyers were said to be assessing the property.
One source said: “There are several prospective buyers, although nothing has happened yet. Other people are looking, talking with the Hart family.
“I believe there were quite a few people looking at it, different entities.”
Judy Hurlock, an Exuma-based realtor with Coldwell Banker Lightbourn Realty, told Tribune Business that the island and homeowners would welcome a purchaser who could complete February Point.
The project, which had initially been one of Exuma’s real estate development ‘success stories’, had largely come to a halt, and she said: “I would think the homeowners at February Point would welcome someone coming back in and completing the community.
“It’s come to a standstill, like many things here, and I’m sure they’d welcome someone coming in here, getting it up and running again and bringing in some sales.
“It was one of the success stories. There was a lot of building, a lot of buildings well-maintained, and looks like a successful development.”
February Point also offers a full service marina with accommodation for 38 boats, plus an infinity pool, tennis courts, fitness centre and waterfront bar and bistro.