By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Pointe's developer yesterday forecast the project will inject $100 million into the Bahamian economy when finished, with over 300 Bahamians employed since construction began.
Daniel Liu, vice-president of developer China Construction America (CCA), said the downtown Nassau project had already injected $25 million into the economy - one-quarter of the total - to-date.
Mr Liu, who gave an update on the project to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and his Cabinet, said 150 different contractors have been hired thus far, with one-third of professional management at the development, such as project managers and engineers, being Bahamian.
"When the job is completed we estimate that $100 million will be injected into the economy," Mr Liu, The Pointe's president, said. "Fifty-eight Bahamians have worked on the project so far this year, and there will be much more when other jobs start.
He added that CCA will adhere to its Heads of Agreement (HOA) with the Government, which calls for a work force comprised of 70 per cent Bahamians and 30 per cent foreign labour.
The agreement, tabled in Parliament last year, granted CCA between 400-500 work permits for the $200 million development. The deal, dated June 18, 2015, stipulated that Bahamians would comprise 70 per cent of the total construction workforce, once those employed by local sub-contractors were included in the calculation.
And Bahamian sub-contractors were supposed to receive "approximately 40 per cent of development work.... in various classifications", although these were not listed.
Mr Liu did not indicate how many Chinese workers have been employed at the development site, which is adjacent to the CCA-owned British Colonial Hilton, to-date. He declined media interviews following yesterday's site tour.
The Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) recently demanded that the Government and developer "clarify" how many Bahamian companies and labourers are employed on Phase II of The Pointe, and it is unclear whether yesterday's disclosure will satisfy them.
Leonard Sands, the BCA's president, told Tribune Business that while "the project seems to be progressing well", Bahamian contractors wanted to know what level of involvement they could expect.
Mr Liu, meanwhile, said CCA has obtained the necessary approvals to begin construction on The Pointe's 45-slip marina. Work is expected to begin in two months and create 50-60 Bahamian jobs, he said.
Also included in the Pointe's second phase is a 150-room Margaritaville Beach Resort and 148 luxury oceanfront residences. Mr Liu said the hotel will feature a water park, surf simulator, 1,000 feet lazy river and other amenities. The hotel was initially to be a Hard Rock-branded resort, and is expected to create 500 permanent jobs when opened, although Mr Liu did not indicated why the operator brand had changed.
The Pointe's condo development will feature one and three-bedroom residences. The second phase is expected to begin a phased opening in mid-2019, with a grand opening scheduled for April 2020.
"We are working tirelessly to get everything done," Mr Liu said. The first phase of the $250 million Pointe development, which included a seven-storey, 900 space parking garage with spaces for lease, was officially opened in October 2016.
The CCA vice-president did not respond to criticism of The Pointe's design, which has come under heavy local fire for being incompatible with traditional Bahamian architecture and out of keeping with the surrounding downtown Nassau environment, looking like something more suited to Manhattan or the City of London.
The Prime Minister, speaking with reporters following yesterday's update and site tour, said: "We came because I wanted to see if they were making progress on the commitment they have made.
"I wanted to see the project itself because it's a part of the entire downtown redevelopment. This will be the catalyst for the downtown redevelopment, and it's essential that it is on target. I'm very impressed with what we have seen today."