By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE JUDGE presiding over the government’s winding-up petition of the stalled Baha Mar project was told yesterday that the initial two months granted to stakeholders to negotiate the property’s future was “over-ambitious” and unrealistic.
In what was to be a substantive hearing concerning the incomplete Cable Beach resort, Crown lawyer Loren Klein asked Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder for a second adjournment of the proceedings until May 2.
Mr Klein said notwithstanding a few new developments since the stalled Cable Beach mega resort went into receivership, namely the hosting of the upcoming Inter-American Development Bank conference at the resort’s convention centre, the government and interested parties had been “over-ambitious” with their expectations.
“I do believe we may have been a bit over-ambitious with the time line. The commercial reality is it’s going to take a while longer,” Mr Klein said.
Comparing Baha Mar to “a very large caravan”, Mr Klein added that “it takes some effort and initiative to get it moving again.”
“But we think, what we see are very positive signs, that there’s going to be forward trajectory which would take the project across the completion of that three per cent.”
Respective creditors and stakeholders in the project – China Export Import Bank, CCA Bahamas and various government agencies which are part of the proceedings – had no objection to the adjournment.
The opening of the 2,000 plus room resort was scheduled for December 2014, but was delayed to March and again to May 2015.
Baha Mar’s developer then filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States on June 29; however the Supreme Court rejected the resort’s application for the matter to be recognised here.
A US judge later threw out the bankruptcy application for Baha Mar’s Bahamian companies.
Baha Mar’s developer Sarkis Izmirlian is at odds with its general contractor, CCA Bahamas, which it has blamed for numerous opening delays. However, CCA has placed the blame for the resort’s woes on Baha Mar executives, citing mismanagement as the reason the property is behind schedule. The developer filed a lawsuit against CCA in the UK.
Since the bankruptcy rejection by the Bahamas Supreme Court and the end of Chapter 11 proceedings in Delaware, joint provisional liquidators (JPLs) were appointed in September to protect and prevent the depletion of the resort’s assets before an expected full winding-up of the resort took place.
However, the resort was placed into receivership in October and the status quo remains until otherwise asked for the by the parties or directed by the judge.
Despite the resort’s woes, Prime Minister Perry Christie has repeatedly expressed optimism about the property, and has said a number of international investors are interested in Baha Mar.
The Tribune reported yesterday that Mr Izmirlian challenged Prime Minister Christie to sit and meet with him if his government is serious about getting the $3.5 billion resort completed and opened?
Mr Izmirlian said he has not heard from the government since last October, or from the Prime Minister since the summer of last year, even though he has made proposals that would enable Baha Mar to be opened “and put Bahamians back to work.”
It was more than a decade ago that Mr Izmiralian was approached by Mr Christie to redevelop Cable Beach into Baha Mar.