Camilo Thame, Business Reporter
Keith Russell, real estate developer, has seven-year plans to build resort community in Duncans, Trelawny, his home parish. - File
Amaterra Jamaica Limited, a local firm principally held by land developer Keith Russell, has a seven-year plan to build a resort community comprising 2,000 hotel rooms and 2,200 villa lots, in Trelawny.
Amaterra's plans is the latest in a series of new hotel projects that have either been advanced or created since government announced its US$1.2 billion ($79 billlion) Harmony Cove luxury project more than two years ago.
Russell, a former politician, declined to give details, saying he had not finalised all aspects of the project.
But a synopsis of the plans outlined in the environmental impact assessment submitted to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) towards the end of 2005, revealed that "infastructural construction" was expected to begin this year.
Sources say Russell, who has been trying to evict 22 squatter families from the property, wants to start building by October.
Phased basis development
"It is proposed that the development be carried out on a phased basis, with the completion of most of the infrastructure scheduled to be ready by the end of 2008," said the NEPA report.
"The infrastructural construction will begin in 2006 and should be complete within thirty months."
The development is to take place on 850 acres (344.25 hectares) of beachfront land in Duncans, with the name initially envisaged as 'Ocean Pointe'.
The plans call for the development of villas, condominiums, and hotels; and when completed would total approximately 2,000 hotel rooms across five hotels, 2,200 villa lots, and an 18-hole golf course, as well as:
A 'Town Centre Village' with provisions for a business park with commercial units and public amenities, including a fire station, police station, health and other services.
A water park.
An equestrian centre.
A conference centre and amphitheatre.
"Construction of the first building is scheduled to begin in late 2006 with 'Oceanfront Golf Villas' and the 'Highway commercial centre'," added the report.
"This is to be followed in 2007 by a beach hotel, the Conference Centre, and several villas 'manors' and commercial buildings."
The resort is scheduled for completion in 2013.
Since the 2004 announcement of Harmony Cove, there have been announcements or reports of a development at Oyster Bay, which Spanish hotel group, Barcelo Group, has planned for the 220 acres peninsula enclosing the bay, a phosphorescent lagoon and tourist attraction on the north coast of Jamaica, which forms part of the eastern arm of Falmouth Bay.
The designs for that project include three hotels; holiday villas/ timeshare development; apartments; two marinas; a commercial complex, an equestrian centre, nature trails, and a health and sports complex.
The resort will also incorporate an eco-tourism element, with a nature park.
Lee Issa's Couples Group also plans to build a new 370-room hotel, starting next January, at a cost of US$57 million ($3.76 billion), on a 38-acre property purchased from the Veira family of Trelawny in the mid-1990s.
Another development company, White Bay Ltd., also proposes to construct 26 duplex units and 33 villa units on approximately seven hectares (18 acres) of land at White Bay, Trelawny.
The site falls within the north western corner of the Coral Spring/Mountain Spring not far from Oyster Bay.
The design will be based on Georgian architecture to complement the Falmouth historic area.
Harmony Cove, the most ambitious tourism development in Jamaica's history, is to be marketed as an exclusive commune for the rich and famous.
The indicative plans involve a mixed development of five star hotels and villas spread across 2,200 acres of beachfront property.
Guests will be served by a private airport.
Government, through a company called Harmonisation Limited, is in negotiations with Tavistock Group, the American private investment company that was successful in its bid to develop the Harmony Cove project, to finalise the financing arrangements and design concept.