By TANEKA THOMPSON
Tribune News Editor
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced on Friday that a letter of intent (LOI) has been signed between the owners of the Grand Lucayan hotel strip in Grand Bahama and the Toronto-based Wynn Group.
In a statement, Dr Minnis said he hoped this step would lead to the full renovation and opening of the Our Lucayan strip in early 2018.
He also said the government received a mandate from the Bahamian people “to restore economic health and vitality to the economy of Grand Bahama.”
He added: “Over the past several months we have made positive steps to improve Grand Bahama’s economy. However, the island’s recovery will not be complete until the full opening and development of the Our Lucayan strip properties.
“While this process has taken longer than the government would have liked, significant progress has been made. I am therefore pleased to inform Grand Bahamians and the nation that today (Friday) my office has been informed that the owners of the hotel strip have signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Paul Wynn. This is a very important formal step toward the completion of the sale.
“The government will now enter the approval stage and enter formal discussions with Paul Wynn on a heads of agreement, which will detail the future development of the hotel strip. We expect this process to be completed within the next month to two months.
“The government is very hopeful that this important formal step will lead to the full renovation, opening and redevelopment of the entire strip in early part of 2018, helping to bring much needed economic growth and jobs to Grand Bahama, which will also help to boost the national economy.”
The Grand Lucayan closed last October after Hurricane Matthew and deprived Grand Bahama of 59 per cent of its room inventory and at least 1,000 jobs.
Dr Minnis, in a national address earlier this year, said renovations at the Grand Lucayan would likely start in August - a deadline that is now long past.
The Minnis administration had also previously announced it would part-nationalise the hotel by taking a temporary equity stake in its acquisition, in an effort to revive Grand Bahama. While talks for this process took place, it did not materialise.