Construction of US$500-m resort in Hanover could begin soon despite COVID-19Thursday, June 18, 2020
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
GREEN ISLAND, Hanover — Country manager for Princess Hotels and Resorts, Rafael Millan, says despite the novel coronavirus pandemic the resort chain is committed to the planned construction of a US$500-million, five-star Grand Luxury Princess Hotels and Resorts in Hanover.
“We are very happy to keep our project up and running as soon as we can and keep it as a priority, because we are looking forward to working in Jamaica actively. The sooner, the better,” assured Millan in an interview with the Jamaica Observer West last week.
Millan said the hope was that the company would have already received the necessary approvals so that they could start construction by July.
However, with the pandemic slowing things down, Millan said the hope is that construction will begin before the end of the year.
“With the COVID problem, things have been suspended and the beginning of our process is obviously going to be delayed,” stated Millan.
“We are currently working on the permits with the Government and with a bit of luck, we are hoping to see if we can start our construction this year,” said the country manager.
In March, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study for the proposed construction of the five-star hotel was presented to the public at the Green Island High School in Hanover.
Chief executive officer of the National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA), Peter Knight, told the Jamaica Observer West last week that the requisite approvals for the applications submitted by Princess Hotels and Resorts to the agency were given during a Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and Town & Country Planning Authority (TCPA) meeting in April.
According to Knight, the four permits granted are environmental permit for construction and operation of a hotel or resort complex of 2,001- 3,000 rooms; environmental permit for construction of overwater rooms; outline planning permission for hotel/resort, and beach licences.
But before construction can begin, the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) and the Negril and Green Island Area Local Planning Authority (NEGALPA), must give their stamp of approval.
The corporation says it is still awaiting “a full building construction application” from the NEGALPA.
According to the physical planning officer at the HMC, Garry McLean, the approval process could take up to 90 days, but he pointed out that measures have been put in place to speed up the process.
“Normally it would have taken at most 90 days, but we saw the importance of such a development in terms of economic development within the parish of Hanover, offering work to construction workers, vendors, and so on. So, we saw the urgency in ensuring that we act upon it speedily once they submit everything to us and everything is okay, to get it out of the way before that three months,” McLean explained.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has presented major disruptions for global businesses and Millan said the calamity has resulted in the Princess Hotels and Resorts chain closing some 10,000 rooms worldwide. However, despite the blow, Millan stressed that no changes are expected to its plan for Jamaica, except for a slight delay for the commencement of the construction of the resort.
“This is a worldwide problem, and there is a clear uncertain element in how things are going to exactly come back to normal as you know. We stick to our plan, but we are a hotel company. Our hotels are being closed down. We have 10,000 rooms across the world, [and] we had closed down every single one of them. So, we are hoping to get back opening our hotels this summer, which I think is going to be feasible. So, if things go as we plan, we shouldn't be making any changes in our planning [for Jamaica] except for the delay that we had to face like everyone else,” the country manager argued.
The group is proposing to construct a 2,037-room resort on 84 of 180 acres of land owned by the developers in Industry Cove, Green Island, Hanover.
The developers are also proposing to construct a building to house a casino and four hotels in two phases, utilising a workforce of approximately 1,500 tradesmen and labourers. On completion of both phases, some 2,852 hotel workers — 1,417 in phase one and 1,435 in phase two — are expected to gain employment.
In the first phase, construction of 1,012 rooms inclusive of 14 overwater rooms, is anticipated over 18 to24 months. Following a year's break, the second phase will be carried out over a similar period, where some 1,025 rooms are to be constructed.