Saving Almond Beach Village At What Cost
Neal & Massy (52% shareholder) delivered the Almond Mess lo Barbadians last week which has knocked CLICO from the front page of the Nation newspaper for the moment. A scan of that paper’s front page this morning should create some concerns for Barbadians. Bjorn Bjerkham is mentioned as one of about four parties bidding for the 30-acre beachfront Almond Beach Village property in St. Peter. If Bjerkham gets his wish a small island is about to be divvied up between COW Williams and himself with CLICO’s significant land holding currently encumbered as a result of its publicised demise.
In the case of Bjerkham Barbadians may want to sit up and take notice. If he is able to acquire the Almond Beach Village property, he gets control of the greatest portion of St. Peter coastline – he already owns St. Peter’s Bay in the Road View area. Remember he is currently working on redesigning the Six Mens area with the Port Ferdinand marina project. For those who are familiar with the area try to visualize if Bjerkham is able to acquire Almond Beach Village property with its vast beachfront.
Officially our government boasts that there are no private beaches in Barbados but if Bjerkham is allowed to acquire Almond beach front it is akin to creating a private beach front in Barbados by effectively blocking off access at both ends. Whether by accident or design our laws of public beach access in Barbados are being circumvented by those who have deep pockets.
So what is new anyway!
If that was not enough to consider look who else is reported to be in the bidding for Almond Beach Village, none other than Paul Doyle of Skeete’s Bay fame! His plan to privatise Skeete’s Bay did not go well after protests by Mac Fingall and residents of Bayfield, he seems to be trying a thing on the west coast. It makes one wonder how did Neal & Massy (ARI) manage to lose this property screwing the 48% minority shareholders along the way.
To cap it all, our sources suggest to be wary of Ritz Carlton. It is true that we need brand name hotels in Barbados but at what cost. Take a look at what happened in St. Lucia when Ritz Carlton was supposed to be built there.
It is now going to cost the new Ken Anthony Government in St. Lucia almost US$60 million to buy back their own lands in very difficult economic times. This story has other meanings for Barbadians as far as the Four Seasons project here is concerned.
Barbados is a one leg economy, we all know it. Tourism is all we have for the moment and BU believes it must be treated as a strategic asset. There is no doubt the government has to make a deal happen. There is the impact to our major forex earner in a recession which cannot be ignored.
Yes we need to save Almond Beach Village but at what cost.