POND ISLAND–It looks like the massive Pearl ofChina hotel and conference centre will no longer take shape on Belair beachfront. An “alternative location”has been made by Government for the project.
Prime Minister William Marlin, fresh from his trip to Beijing, China, where he met with project developers, disclosed on Wednesday that an alternative has been given, but declined to give the name of the alternative location at the Council of Ministers Press Briefing.
However, the location is tipped to be the former Mullet Bay Beach Resort property. The alternative location has been suggested by Government “to facilitate” the continuation of the Chinese-backed project.
“The Pearl of China project is not off the books … it has not been abandoned … it has just stumbled its toes on a stone,” Marlin said.
The need for a new location stems from deed restrictions on height and density on the Belair land. Developers had been in negotiations with the original land owners to see if the restrictions could be lifted to allow a building permit to be issued by the Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment VROMI.
The developers had considered an excavation permit for the Belair land as a way to deal with the height restriction, but this would not solve the need for a bigger buildings than those of the scrapped Barbaron project. That hotel project had already received all permits and those were taken over by the Chinese developers with the land purchase.
The 326-room hotel with a showroom and 450 executive apartments is to be constructed by a Chinese public-private venture. A company reflecting 50 per cent share ownership of the Chinese Government and 50 per cent by the Chinese private sector companies has been established in St. Maarten.
The 450 apartments are to be bought by Chinese private sector companies for their executives and staff who will transact business from St. Maarten. This along with the showroom will make St. Maarten “a hub and centre” for Chinese commercial activities in the region, said Finance Minister Gibson Sr. when announcing the project in September last year.