Long Island developers hope for ‘quick’ approvals


Tribune Business Editor


Two developers targeting Long Island’s former Diamond Crystal plant with separate eco-tourism investments yesterday voiced optimism that the required approvals will be processed “very quickly”.

Diamond Crystal Properties and Maritek Bahamas, which have divided the 25,000 acres that once belonged to the island’s former largest employer between them, both confirmed at the Long Island Business Outlook that they both still have work to do to obtain all the environmental and other permits required for their ventures to proceed (see other article HERE).

However, the principals of both developers indicated they are confident that the nature of their respective projects should help ensure the approvals process proceeds relatively smoothly, as their investments will help revive both Long Island’s economy and a derelict site.

Nina Pesavento, president of Diamond Crystal Properties, the investor behind the Salinas project and its proposed 8,560-acre Nature Reserve, said: “Regarding the Diamond Crystal project, we submitted a master plan to the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) two years ago that was approved.

“We’ve not reached the Heads of Agreement yet. There’s quite a lot of work yet, including submission of the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) application. We anticipate beginning the DEPP process by the end of this year and early 2024. 

“We’re hopeful that with our recent efforts and the nature of the project, our application should go fairly quickly, but we are still working on that component.” Responding to the same audience question, Geoff Fulton, Maritek Bahamas chairman, compared developing resort and real estate projects to “an iceberg” on the grounds that much of the preparatory work goes unseen by the public.

Just as most of an iceberg is hidden underwater, Mr Fulton told the Outlook: “The Maritek project is lagging behind the Salinas project. In some ways, developing a project is like an iceberg. You may think you’ve seen everything, but only 10 percent is above the water.

“We have done a lot of work. We have done a lot of geotechnical work, and have done a lot of economic reviews to establish viability before we go back to the Government. We hope to be back before the Government by the end of the year. There will be some lag time after that. These projects take a lot of time, but we have done a lot of work leading up to it, so the approval process should go very quickly.”

Maritek Bahamas’ Chrysalis project is based on a similar model to that of its Salinas neighbour. Of its 14,720-acre site, some 11,720 acres will be set aside for environmental preservation with the remaining 3,000 targeted for the development of a total 1,000 modular homes that will be split into clusters no larger than 25-100. A range of eco-tourism activities will be available to residents and guests.

Chester Cooper, deputy prime minister and minister of tourism, investments and aviation, yesterday also sought to manage expectations regarding Long Island investment projects immediately after touting the Diamond Crystal proposal. His comments also referred to the $250m Calypso Cove cruise port targeted at the southern tip of Long Island.

Giving the keynote address at the same conference, he said: “I point out two things. First, these developments sometimes take a while to be fully designed, developed and come out of the ground. I’m delighted that progress is underway.

“The second point I would make is some aspects of both of these projects [Diamond Crystal and Calypso Cove] are subject to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), especially as it relates to the cruise piers. Unless we are fully able to satisfy minimising the environmental impact, there will need to be some adjustments to the designs potentially as it relates to the marina and the piers.

“Let me tell you how we are big on environmental sustainability, we are big on sustainable tourism, and we are big on protecting the environment for future generations of Bahamians.” Mr Cooper had earlier described Diamond Crystal Properties’ plans as “a multi-phase project encompassing marinas, hotels, residential lots, a nature preserve and more across 14,000 acres of Long Island.

“Phase One at Hard Bargain spans across 107 acres,” he added, revealing that it will include a 30-acre marina with numerous slips, cafes, restaurants, bars, local businesses, water sports facilities, nature tours and fishing excursions.

“It also encompasses a 64-bed lagoon hotel, a 127-bed oceanfront hotel, 17 large estate lots, 65 residential lots and 85 family homes,” Mr Cooper said. “Additionally, this phase incorporates an extensive 8,560-acre nature reserve.”

Mr Cooper added that Salinas’ second phase will feature 196 residential lots on 473 acres, with the third stage featuring a 47-slip marina along with a 75-bed hotel, 160-bed hotel and 58 single family home lots situated on 160 acres of land. 

A fourth phase on 100 acres involves the creation of a lagoon and 15-acre marina featuring a boardwalk alongside mixed-use facilities including shops, restaurants and recreational activities. A 220-room beachfront hotel, along with residential lots, are also included.

“Approval of these various undertakings showcases our destination with sustainable development and offers best prospects for residents and visitors alike,” Mr Cooper said.


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