A Chinese investment group will invest approximately $1 billion in a megaresort development on Antigua to be known as Singulari, on 900 acres on the island's northeast coast and 700 acres of islands.
Much of the land was previously owned by disgraced U.S. financier Allen Stanford, convicted in 2012 of fraud for running a massive Ponzi scheme.
The developer, Yida International Investment Group, plans to begin construction early next year, possibly creating more than 1,000 jobs in the early construction phase for the 108-square-mile Eastern Caribbean nation.
The project will transform the 455-acre Guiana Island (just south of Jumby Bay resort on Long Island in North Sound) and surrounding islands and lands with the construction of five five-star hotels, 1,300 residential units, a conference center, a 27-hole golf course, an entertainment district, plus a marina and commercial, retail and sports outlets.
Facilities also will include a casino, which is being billed as the Caribbean's largest, although that title currently is claimed by the Baha Mar destination gaming resort under development in Nassau, where a 100,000-square-foot casino will be the centerpiece of the 1,000-acre complex.
Singulari will cover 1,600 acres.
Total room count at Baha Mar will top 2,200 in four hotels; Singulari's room count in the five planned hotels is not known.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne signed the agreement with Yida after he took office in June, following the victory of the Labor Party in the country's general election.
During the lead-up to the 2014 election, Browne pledged that his administration would bring tangible investments to generate economic growth for the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
"I promised the people that my administration would bring the type of investments to the country that will transform Antigua and Barbuda into an economic powerhouse," Browne said during a campaign speech.
The prime minister pointed out that Antigua "is in dire straits and requires the efforts of all to move forward."
With its national debt close to 90% of the country's gross domestic product, the main challenges for the new government include reviving the country's tourism-dependent economy.
Yida plans to inject more than $200 million a year for the next 10 years into the economy of Antigua and Barbuda, according to statements on the country's official government website.
Job fairs will be held this fall to ensure that locals are given first priority for positions later this year when the lands are prepared for development.
No timeline has been given for completion, and no hotel brands have been named.
The Singulari deal comes on the heels of a recent agreement by Sheikh Tariq bin Faisal Al Qassimi, a member of the ruling family of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, to invest in a $120 million hotel in the village of Old Road on Antigua's southwestern coast.
While several other new developments in the Caribbean are coming on line through 2017, none is as large or as expensive as Singulari.
These include the Riu Palace Antillas in Aruba; the Park Hyatt in St. Kitts; the Real InterContinental in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and the Third Turtle Resort and Marina in Turks and Caicos.