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Harmony Cove casino resort project cost rises to US$1b

Published:Wednesday | January 13, 2016 | 1:00 AMTameka Gordon

Harmony Cove Limited said it will begin construction of the first phase of its integrated resort development by summer.

The company has further reshaped its budget with phase one now projected to cost approximately US$1 billion, up from the previously stated US$970 million, executive director of Harmonisation Limited, Dr Lorna Simmonds, told Wednesday Business.

Simmonds said the revised outlay includes the cost for the first 1,000 rooms hotel as well as the "core amenities" for the Trelawny development whose centrepiece will eventually include a casino.

Harmony Cove is currently a partnership of state-owned Harmonisation Limited, with 49 per cent, and private-sector partner Tavistock Group - a global investment company, with 51 per cent.

The Jamaican Government is expected to announce new financing arrangements for the casino resort project, which are expected to include a new Chinese backer, but Simmonds said disclosure of those details would be up to the Government.

"All key stakeholders have been secured and we are working through the paperwork and are in various stages of completing the financing," said the Harmonisation head.

"A lot of the thing is proprietary and the announcements will come soon and from the highest quarter of government ... in coordination with Tavistock and through the prime minister and the minister of finance."

Harmony Cove and Celebration Jamaica were the only two bidders to qualify for provisional approval of Integrated Resort Development orders from the Ministry of Finance, which requires each investor to develop 2,000 hotel rooms in two phases.

The investors may apply for a casino licence after building the first 1,000 rooms.

"We are on track to meet our Integrated Resort Development approval," said Simmonds. The provisional approvals require construction of the first 1,000 rooms to begin by mid-year 2016. "We are on track to break ground this summer."

MASTERPLAN REVISED

She added that said Harmony Cove's master plan had been reshaped and will now feature "multiple lodging" options with villas, small and large hotels and a wide variety of amenities and attractions.

The plan was redesigned to make the resort more "environmentally sensitive and responsible", she said, while noting that the marina had been eliminated.

The full development will sit on a 2,300-acre property located in Trelawny and will feature a casino, golf courses, a luxury spa, convention and entertainment centres and hotels.

Of financing for the venture, the executive director said "All key stakeholders have been secured and we are working through the paperwork and various stages of completing the financing.

"A lot of the thing is proprietary and the announcements will come soon and from the highest quarter of government ... in coordination with Tavistock and through the prime minister and the minister of finance," she said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com