by S Brian Samuel
There is a long history of failed mega-projects at Mount Hartman and Hog Island, including the ‘bridge to nowhere’, excellently recounted by Leon Taylor.
This current incarnation, sixth in 35 years, incudes all the usual mega-resort embellishments: “USD2 billion development includes a boutique retail village, a waterpark, a casino and a marina operation on site to complement the hotels and real estate portions of the property.” But what really stands out, with eye-popping amazement, is its design: a shining monument to crassness and bad taste.
I’m speechless, dumbstruck with revulsion, at the thought of this massive monstrosity, that would dominate the entire southern end of Grenada – are we mad? What part of this eyesore bears even the tiniest resemblance, to ‘Pure Grenada’, our so-called marketing brand? Out of which window did we conveniently toss that out? Plain and simple: this so-called architectural design is hideous, completely out of place in Grenada. An opinion that will be shared, I’m sure, by every single tourist who’s ever been to Grenada before: they want to get away from that kind of mass-market nightmare, not see Grenada become one!
A word about numbers. Developers and politicians love to toss big numbers around like candy: US$2 billion here, US$4 billion there – your head spins. Coming back to earth just for a minute, can we put this into some kind of context: Do you know what is Grenada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? In 2020, the sum total of all economic activity in Grenada amounted to US$1.04 billion. So, we are to believe that one project, alone, will double Grenada’s entire economy, never mind all the other billion-dollar babies in the CBI belly. Where will twice the consumption of water going to come from? Electricity, ports, roads, plus the one that developers love to forget about: garbage and sewage disposal? Are we really that gullible, to believe these outlandish claims? More to the point: how many passports would we have to sell, to raise $2 billion? Do the math: 9,000. More or less. That’s an awful lot of nouveau Grenadians. What if they decide to move here?
For such a large, transformative project, there is a shocking lack of information, on the people behind it, Grenada Resort Complex, Ltd. Their website is in Russian, and none of the principals has any online presence. Mount Hartman is not ‘any old beach’ (in fact there is no beach). It is a National Park and Bird Sanctuary, a rapidly dwindling piece of ‘Pure Grenada’. Every citizen should demand to know: to whom are we entrusting our national treasure? A company name, a website in Russian, faceless names, no online presence – that’s all we’re told? This appalling lack of transparency and disclosure is a major cause for concern, if not alarm.
We may not know anything about the people behind it, but we know one thing: construction is well underway.
But, even at this late stage, one has to ask: construction of what? In the little information provided by the mystery backers, we hear the usual: hotel, boutique retail village, waterpark, casino, marina – plus this mysterious claim, which no one at SGU I’ve spoken to knows anything about: “Grenada Resort will include the development of a dedicated medical district which will be pioneering in the region involving a new hospital that will have operating synergies with St. Georges University School of Medicine.” A new hospital, is this public or private? Without Title IV, any medical school is a non-starter for US students, so whom will they be attracting? A silly question: are hospitals and 5-star resorts ‘naturally compatible neighbours’? And finally: a casino? I must have been sleeping, when did that law get passed?
Finally, just like at La Sagesse, there’s the location. As any Grenadian will tell you, that stretch of coastline is wild, beautiful, but it’s not what you would typically call ‘tourist territory’. For starters, there’s no beach. The National Park is ringed on 3 sides by dense mangroves. Are they planning to create a beach? In other words, destroy the mangroves?
Not much left to be said here and I, personally, am terrified of saying much publicly about the whole subject. There is so much unaccountable money sloshing around, and among so many people who we know nothing about, it is quite possible to imperil one’s personal safety by saying the “wrong” things while means anything at all, as there is no aspect of the program that I find supportable.
Having said this, I will risk my neck here to point out a critical aspect of the CBU Program that I have not seen recorded elsewhere. This is, the pricing of the Units in each Development is carefully calibrated to ensure that the Developer is able to walk away from the Project with an exorbitant profit, way before it is completed! The Strategy going in is likely to only spend as much in construction necessary to achieve a Sales level that optimizes their profit! I would be prepared to bet (anonymously, of course) that such levels will occur way before the Project is even 50% complete.
Ergo, this accounts for a profusion of Projects that are “Massive” and never completed, as Mr. Samuel so notably (and nobly) reports. Pray for his continuing well-being!