Chinese project aims to bring Vegas-like business to country

~ Rep: Pond not part of project ~

LITTLE BAY–The idea of the Pearl of China project is to make St. Maarten “the Caribbean centre for conventions and tradeshows” for Chinese businesses and products similar to the kind of business carried out in Las Vegas, Nevada. That was the description given by Cengiz Kucuk, local representative for the massive project planned for Belair beachfront.

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The 326-room hotel with showroom and 450 apartments will create employment and business for the country, Kucuk, founder of Caribbean China People Foundation told The Daily Herald. “Time will tell about the jackpot the Minister [Richard Gibson Sr. – Ed.] was talking about,” he added.

“Think Las Vegas,” Kucuk said.

Conventions will bring hundreds of Chinese people to the country and (potential) business partners from the Caribbean, Central and South America to St. Maarten to broker trade deals. “China wants to do more trade with the Caribbean, because the Caribbean is the stage for Latin America and South America.”

“This is not direct tourism. We will not compete with any other resort … We are not in the vacation destination business … this project will bring a lot of good to the people and the country,” Kucuk said. “There are opportunities for employment for local people … Lots of subcontractors will get jobs. I mean they will not bring the people from China to do the hotel work.”

“The aim is to do conventions like Las Vegas. Imagine a Chinese company coming with 200 people and other people come here to meet them to do business. This is about face-to-face business. People can come to the showroom and see the products they can buy,” Kucuk said.

Instead of businesspeople going more than halfway around the world to China, Chinese businesses want to come closer to this potential market. St. Maarten was selected as the “perfect location” for this venture by Chinese developer Trey Cui of New Lifetown Limited Beijing, the private sector branch of the US $100 million project slated for ground breaking on Saturday, September 17.

Kucuk represents Cui in the project in which the Chinese Government also has a stake. Locally, the project is under Universal Light Real Estate NV and will be executed by Global Light Development NV.

The idea for such a project has been around for some 15 years. Realisation of it is coming now, because Cui, the private sector developer, spent two years exploring the possibilities of the island and was wooed by its duty-free status, top rated port and an airport that’s a region hub.

Cui is known on mainland China for building new cities. This is his first project outside of China, according to the local representative.
The Pearl of China Project has “nothing to do” with the 50 per cent sale of NAGICO Insurances to Peak-Re, a Hong Kong based company, he emphasized. The Pearl of China project developer is from “mainland China.”

New beach 
The “compact building” of 12 storeys will not hamper the Little Bay Pond, because the pond is not on the former Barbaron property. The pond belongs to and sits on a property belonging to a Venezuelan group by deed. That group is not connected to the Pearl of China project that covers 36,000 square metres of land.
The land for the project will be accessed via Chopin Road (behind Learning Unlimited Preparatory School).

Beach replenishment will be undertaken by the developer to widen the strip of sand and rocky shoreline. This undertaking will be an added value for the convention-driven project and for the country, said Kucuk.

Though the ground breaking is on Saturday, Kucuk, who was the operator of Dolphin Casino, said the actual construction will start in January and will take some 20 months to be completed.

“The idea is to connect China businesses with St. Maarten and Caribbean businesses,” Kucuk said. This approach is in keeping with China’s policy of getting closer to the wider world.

Protest
The development has drawn much outcry from the public since it was announced more than two weeks ago by Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. (National Alliance) at a town hall session dealing with the topic of inequality and demand.

An online petition with the aim to haul the project has garnered close to 700 signatures. The petition describes the project as “secretly negotiated” by two Ministers with the Chinese Government and private sector representatives of that country.

The petition is available via: www.gopetition.com/petitions/objection-to-the-chines-project-in-little-bay-st-maarten.html

Several persons have also submitted written objection to the planning permit request that is on public review at the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI. Objections can be filed until the end of the month.

Members of Parliament (MPs) Sarah Wescot-Williams (Democratic Party), Maurice Lake (independent) and Silvio Matser (independent), who are coalition partners of NA have questioned the project – They have claimed the project was never discussed with them.

Nature Foundation has also questioned the project and pointed out that the area chosen is a designate birding watching zone and the habitat of a number of birds and other wildlife.

The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) has submitted a number of questions to Government seeking clarity on the project.

 

Source: Daily Herald 
Chinese project aims to bring Vegas-like business to country

4 COMMENTS

  1. I have confidence in local construction workers. But we have to be also realistic: 1. according to the article it is the first real estate project outside China for that investors group. 2. The investors are telling us that local workforce will be used for the construction. 3. the construction period is scheduled for within 20 months to completed.
    All this together and seeing the magnitude of this project is letting me doubt. About the challenges that the investor will face using local work force, having a challenging construction and having that many local persons employed during the construction.
    The engineers and specialized workers for steel work, electrics, piping etc will def not come from this island!
    Local workers with a limited qualification will get some jobs for a scheduled period of 20 months, a limited period which is not what I would call a sustainable longterm employment.
    However, most concerning is the fact that the government is negotiating such size project in secret without informing any of its people before. So much for the respect ‘for the people of St. Maarten’.
    It’s only about some rich & influential business people from this island making some deals on the back of the population. With their car rental companies, their car dealerships, their heavy equipment they are using our infrastructure paid by us the tax payer – for their benefit making as much profit as possible. The normal man is left with the consequences: jammed traffic with a complete still stand for nobody making one inch forward, broken roads with potholes all over.
    These politicians and the involved business people have no vision for the future and its community of St. Maarten. Or how do they expect this island to move on and develop further if in high season all hotels are booked, cruise vessels spitting out thousands of guests on a daily basis, and more guests to be expected in connection with the new Chinese hotel? And all of them roaming the island on ONE SINGLE MAJOR ROAD around the rock.
    The island will be a complete chaos as our road network, our dump, our electricity provider and many more things are completely unfit for a challenge to cater for such huge amount of individuals.
    The information that the Chinese will give us in return some LED bulbs, solar panels etc I consider at this point a bad joke.
    How many jobs for locals they are planning to offer after the opening of the hotel? Will this be a repeat of the situation in the Westin Hotel where you have a majority of foreigners working which are afraid to stand up for their labour rights?
    Oh, sweet St. Maarten land…you are going to make a bad turn (at least for the massa) into the future caused by some selfish and greedy politicians and businessmen – which are far far away from being real leaders. A real pity.

  2. Is Mr. Kucuk the same gentleman that bankrupted Dolfphin Casino? I believe his former Landord MP Frans Richardson may be able to shed some light on Mr. Kucuk business history on the island? Why did Dolphin Casino closed? How were the employees treated when the casino closed?

    “Those who don’t know their history are destined to repeat it”

  3. Here is what doesn’t make sense in this explanation by this Casino manager who is the Chinese rep on the island (interesting combination by the way). If China wants to more trade with Latin and South America as this rep states, why not build Pearl of South America and a Pearl of Latin America on their own continent? Why go to the Caribbean?? Or is this all a big front for another Casino license, one that the rep has (Dolphin Casino) and will put Dolphin in this Chinese project at Bel Air so it can become a standard gambling operation again? Chinese projects in the Caribbean have a bad track record: not being finished, bankruptcies etc so WHY should we believe ANYTHING this rep and this Chinese developer says?!!!

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