Unfinished Baha Mar resort, amid stalemate, put up for sale

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Colliers says that the Bahamas government is willing to provide “special assistance” to get the resort opened.
Colliers says that the Bahamas government is willing to provide “special assistance” to get the resort opened.

The unfinished Baha Mar resort complex has officially been put on the block after the financial interests involved were unable to reach an agreement that would have resulted in the completion of the $3.5 billion Bahamas project.

Deloitte, which in October was appointed receiver for Export-Import Bank of China (the project’s lender) tapped broker Colliers International to market the resort, which includes four new hotels totaling about 2,200 rooms as well as a casino, a 200,000-square-foot convention center and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.

Colliers is marketing Baha Mar as a “substantially completed” project, adding that the Bahamas government is willing to provide “special assistance” to get the resort opened. Colliers did not list a price for the 1,000-acre beachfront property but said more than $3 billion had already been invested in it. For access to the project’s financials, the broker is requiring that interested parties deposit a $50,000 registration fee, produce satisfactory proof of financial ability and sign a nondisclosure agreement.

Representatives of the Bahamas government declined to comment. Deloitte representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

The listing follows a six-month stalemate between developer Sarkis Izmirlian; primary contractor CCA Bahamas, a division of China State Construction Engineering Corp.; the Export-Import Bank of China; and the Bahamas government.

Izmirlian, who originally planned to open Baha Mar in late 2014, blamed construction problems for repeated delays, then unsuccessfully attempted to put the project into bankruptcy in June in order to protect his assets.

Izmirlian, who laid off 2,000 employees at Baha Mar in September, has since criticized the Bahamas government for blocking the bankruptcy, which he filed in a U.S. court, and has accused CCA of misleading the government. Last month, Izmirlian’s camp lobbied for the Bahamas government to provide funding to help pay off creditors and potentially push the resort toward completion.

“The Bahamian government must step up and act now on behalf of the unsecured creditors to fulfill its assurances to you,” Tom Dunlap, who heads Izmirlian’s real estate holding company, wrote in an open letter to the project’s creditors last month. “The government must now fund the [joint-provisional liquidators] so that they can do their job on behalf of Baha Mar’s unsecured creditors, on your behalf.”

That request appears to have little chance of success. Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie last month called the situation “extremely complicated,” adding that local contractors have been hired to finish Baha Mar’s convention center so that the facility can be completed in time for the Inter-American Development Bank’s convention this month, the Bahamas Tribune reported. He also estimated that the Bahamas’ 2015 economic growth had been 1% lower than forecasted because of the failure to open Baha Mar.

Colliers, which cites “good relationships between the Bahamian and Chinese governments” as one of the project’s assets, lists the Baha Mar Hotel & Casino, the Grand Hyatt and the SLS Lux Hotel & Residences in its marketing materials, as well as a 240-room “five-star luxury hotel.” That building had been earmarked to be branded under Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which in August pushed for its licensing agreement to be voided. Neither Rosewood nor Baha Mar representatives have commented since then.

The 694-room Melia Nassau Beach, which remains open, was also slated to be part of the Baha Mar complex.

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