MONDAY, JANUARY 28: A multi-million dollar redevelopment of Hamilton’s prime waterfront site took a step closer to reality.
And the Corporation of Hamilton has signed up Boston-based waterfront engineer Varoujan Hagopian to take the helm of the project, described as one of the biggest construction jobs in Bermudian history.
But the deal is likely to cause friction between the City of Hamilton and Government — who are furious that they were not consulted. A senior Government insider said: “We knew absolutely nothing about this — and when we asked them about it, they declined to tell us anything at all.
“This is a huge development — they shouldn’t proceed until we can sit down and talk about it.”
The development is likely to involve several major Ministries, including Tourism, Works and Engineering, Transport and Finance.
Mayor Graeme Outerbridge added that the redevelopment would not only bring in foreign investment, create much-needed new jobs and boost the economy.
He added: “There will be opportunities for new industries to flourish which will mean training and apprenticeship programmes for our students and young people.
It has been suggested that a casino could form the heart of a new look harbourfront.
But Mr Outerbridge said: “We are at the start of the process. No decisions have been taken as to what will be built.”
And Alex DeCouto, one of the heads of Allied Development Partners, which will oversee the massive construction job for the City of Hamilton, said: “It’s a bold vision to recreate Hamilton waterfront into a world-renowned destination.
But he warned: “In terms of breaking ground, we are closer to years than months away.
“It’s decades in terms of length – if there is going to be an end. It’s the biggest thing Bermuda has likely seen in one project.”
Mr Hagopian – who has worked on waterfront developments in Kuwait, Boston, New York and Charleston, South Carolina, as well as in Africa and Japan – said that a developer had already been picked from a field of eight and that planning permission from Government had been applied for.
He added that developers “had to be very sensitive” about the scale and impact of any redevelopment work and protect the unique flavour of Front Street.
Mr Hagopian added: “We can’t destroy what’s out there.”
And he pledged that an “important and inclusive element” was the preservation of existing facilities on the city’s premier shopping street.
Earlier, Mayor Graeme Outerbridge said that a reborn waterfront was vital to ensure the future financial viability of the city.
He added that the required financing was in place for a project likely to be funded by the city itself, the developers and Government working in partnership.
He said: “We will consult with the unions, environmental groups, the Hamilton business community residents and workers. We will seek input from the general public.”
And Mr Outerbridge added: “If Bermuda is to move forward and take its place on the world stage again, we must have a comprehensive way forward for our waterfront.
“We must make a bold step to overcome inertia. We can no longer just talk. It is time for action.”
He said: “We must move forward and ensure that this project is successful for those who are alive today and for the generations that will follow us.
“We are at the dawn of a new Hamilton. Together we will build a waterfront that glitters, shines and prospers over time.”