February 08, 2012
Construction of a $7 million airport will act as the catalyst for major development that is set to get underway on the island of Mayaguana.
Mark Herdegen, the vice president of the I-Group, revealed to Guardian Business that the airport project is just one among many that are slated to begin within the next 6 to 18 months on the island.
Mayaguana Island Developers Ltd., headed by the I-Group, has already commenced pre-development work on a master plan that will transform the isolated and largely undeveloped island.
"The airport's runway will be designed to accommodate Bahamasair's Dash 8 aircraft and the airport's terminal will have the capability to serve as an international port of entry," Herdegen said at a press conference yesterday.
"Working in good faith with tourism officials will ensure that the initial planning and work for the airport's runway and terminal will be in full effect soon, so that we are able to have a fully functioning and world-class airport that I think the people of Mayaguana are looking forward to."
The airstrip is expected to be completed over the next six months.
Boutique hotels and a marina will also be constructed simultaneously with the island's airport project.
Herdegen said there are plans for a slightly larger resort, but at this point, the I-Group is still looking for a partner to be a part of that venture.
""We always had a boutique hotel and marina facility, that remains in the agreement. There was a condition for a larger boutique hotel, 40 rooms plus," he said. "It is still our intent to pursue that with a third party that is a recognized brand operator."
These developments were announced yesterday after the government signed an amended and re-instated heads of agreement with the I-Group and the Hotel Corporation at the Office of the Attorney General on East Hill Street. In the amended agreement the I-Group transferred 5,825 acres of land back to the government.
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said the special development programs on tap are the most significant in the island's history. He noted that now that the project has been scaled down, the I-Group would be able to construct the development at the right size and at a pace that provides opportunities for Bahamians.
Michael Scott, the chairman of the Hotel Corporation, believes the development will be successful now that the focus is on low-density, high-end boutiques.
"Bahamians will have an opportunity to take advantage of prime acreage along with any spin-off opportunities that may arise from it," Scott shared.
"We feel this is the sort of model that could be used as a template for future Family Island development."
In 2006, the Christie administration signed a $1.8 billion heads of agreement that left the government and the I-Group with 50/50 ownership.
Initially, the government had transferred 9,999 acres of Crown Land to the company.
The $1.8 billion investment was meant to materialize over a 15-year period, but developers were expected to spend a minimum of $14 million over a two-year span after the original agreement was signed.
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