By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Less than one-third of February Point’s homeowners are “carrying 100 per cent” of the development’s security and maintenance costs, a situation that Tribune Business was told “cannot continue indefinitely”.
Mike Marco, who is heading the existing homeowner group, said that while it was “staying afloat”, the high-end Exuma project badly needed developer John McGarvey to complete his $8.2 million acquisition of the property.
He added that the first step, following the deal’s closure, will be to work out a management structure and budget for February Point with Mr McGarvey.
Expressing hope that a meeting between Mr McGarvey and the homeowners would take place imminently, Mr Marco said the former was also supposed to “advance” funds to compensate February Point’s former staff for severance and back pay owed.
Suggesting that these monies would also be used to take care of February Point’s unpaid bills, such as National Insurance Board (NIB) contributions, Mr Marco suggested the “advance” was likely to be a key feature of Mr McGarvey’s deal with the Hart family.
Sources close to the Florida-based developer, who has already acquired Exuma’s former Coconut Cove property and transformed it, confirmed he was working to close the deal with the Harts.
“He’s still fighting over the details with the Harts, but it looks like it’s going ahead. They’re feeling good, and have got all the approvals they need. It’s wonderful,” one source said.
Tribune Business revealed back in September how Mr McGarvey and his fellow investors were proposing to “revolutionise” Great Exuma via a $40 million-plus investment at February Point that will create over 130 construction jobs.
Yet this newspaper also revealed how February Point’s homeowners had been forced to band together, and contribute their own funds, to pay for February Point’s ongoing security, upkeep and common area maintenance.
“Right now, there’s less than 40 homeowners that are bearing the cost of the whole resort,” Mr Marco told Tribune Business. “The right way would be for the current homeowners, together with the new developer, to be sharing those.”
Most of February Point’s existing homeowners have contributed funds to the effort.
“We’re just trying to carry it until closing, because we can’t afford to pay for the operations and maintenance of the resort at a nice level unless we have contributions from other parties,” Mr Marco added.
“A substantial part of the resort is still owned by the developer, and they are not paying their share right now. There’s 35 homeowners paying for a total of 102 lots, so we barely have one-third of the people to cover 100 per cent of the costs.
“Security and maintenance are being maintained at a nice level, but it can’t continue indefinitely,” Mr Marco added. “We’re staying afloat right now, but it’s not a long-term solution. Long-term, we have to have some type of management structure in place, a budget in place, to make it work the right way.”
These issues, he said, would have to be agreed between Mr McGarvey and the existing February Point lot/home owners. Expressing optimism that a meeting between the two parties would take place soon, Mr Marco said it was likely the two sides – developer and homeowners – would strike a deal.
Noting that Mr McGarvey’s plans for February Point called for the property to be developed to a “high level” , Mr Marco said the developer would also be looking to showcase the project to prospective buyers.
“McGarvey wants it to work,” he added. “I’m sure he’s going to contribute and work things out with them [the homeowners].”
While unaware of the details, Mr Marco said Mr McGarvey was also supposed to advance money to February Point to take care of unpaid bills and reimburse the homeowners some of the costs they have incurred in keeping the project open.
“There’s supposed to be an advance of funds to the February Point owners to reimburse them and pay for maintenance expenses,” he told Tribune Business. “I don’t know if there’s been a transfer of the funds yet.
“There’s supposed to be some kind of advance to the current February Point owners to carry them through the period to closing, which is six weeks or so away. There’s some costs that are going to be taken care of with this advance; there are substantial costs they have to take care of before it closes.
“It looks like it’s moving forward. It’s been a slow process all along, and hopefully at this point we’re 90 per cent there.”
Thomas Dean, a Freeport-based attorney with Dupuch & Turnquest, who is acting for Mr McGarvey in the purchase, previously said the group’s proposed project would transform Georgetown into “a mini mecca”.
“This will revolutionise the Great Exuma, Georgetown area and have knock-on and beneficial effects for the Central Bahamas, as it will create Georgetown as a mini-mecca in the centre of paradise,” the attorney told Tribune Business.
Tribune Business understands that Mr McGarvey and his group plan to change the project’s focus from a pure residential development into one that is mixed-use.
Once the deal closes, it is thought the new owners will develop a 25-unit complex of condominiums, which will be placed in a hotel rental pool and also offer the potential for fractional ownership.
And, slightly further out, a boutique five-star resort has also been earmarked for February Point, together with an expansion of the existing marina.
Mr McGarvey and his group are seeking to attract the mega yacht market, and sources said they are proposing a ‘Georgetown Marina Village’ that would be similar in style, and size, to the existing Atlantis Marina Village and Freeport’s Port Lucaya.
The February Point purchasers are also acquiring, and seeking to revive, the closed concrete plant opposite the main development site, plus establish a community sports complex.
Upgrades to the existing community and beach areas at February Point are also planned.