Sir John’s vision: Plans for a revitalized waterfront released recently by former Premier Sir John Swan feature a promenade, new cruise ship and ferry terminals and a hotel and casino at Albuoy’s Point. *AFP photo
Sir John’s vision: Plans for a revitalized waterfront released recently by former Premier Sir John Swan feature a promenade, new cruise ship and ferry terminals and a hotel and casino at Albuoy’s Point. *AFP photo

Hamilton waterfront has become the centrepiece of a battle for the hearts and souls of islanders.

It has seen city authorities clash with Government departments. And it prompted a former Premier to outline his vision of a new waterfront.

But are these plans realistic or empty rhetoric at a time when investment capital is hard to find? Here’s a breakdown on the state of play: 



Who owns the Hamilton waterfront?

Hamilton waterfront runs between the docks and Barr’s Bay Park. The waterfront is almost entirely owned by the Corporation of Hamilton – except for the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. The ferry port is owned by the Corporation but leased to Government, while the container docks are owned by the City, which has a contract with Stevedoring Services for the handling of freight.

What does the Corporation want to see done with it?

The Corporation has proposed a multi-million dollar redevelopment project. It has signed up Boston-based waterfront engineer Varoujan Hagopian to take the helm of the project, which Mayor Graeme Outerbridge says would bring in foreign investment, create new jobs and boost the economy. Allied Development Partners, under the leadership of Mike Maclean and Alex DeCouto, were chosen as the City of Hamilton’s lead development team. 

Where does Government stand on the idea?

Initially Government was furious that the City of Hamilton had not consulted with them about the Corporation’s plans. Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy, who is responsible for municipalities, even asked the Corporation to delay unveiling the project so Government had a chance to see the plans. It’s not known at this point whether Government favours the plan or not .

Are there any other proposals?

Yes — former Premier Sir John Swan has outlined ambitious plans of how he would like to see the waterfront revamped. The three-phase plan would see the demolition of the HSBC offices at Albuoy’s Point and the creation of a hotel and casino, as well as the relocation of the container terminal elsewhere on the island. There would be a new ferry terminal and a series of public open spaces including theatres, pools and trees, a marina and a new cruise ship pier jutting into the harbour. And a floating stage and seating on the land side of the cruise ship pier would create an entertainment area in a new, protected inner harbour.

How realistic are these ideas?

Few details of the Corporation’s project have been released so far – although the plans have now been shared with Government. While Sir John Swan’s proposal is detailed and comprehensive. However, both would require a huge cash injection – possibly from overseas – if they were to progress in the next decade.

If either of the proposals were implemented, what would be the knock-on effects?

Proponents of a waterfront revamp say that it will not only create jobs, but also give a huge boost to our tourism product. Practically speaking, the project has been described as one of the biggest construction jobs in Bermudian history. It would also necessitate moving the container docks to another location on the island to make way for the development.

Where are we now?

Sir John Swan has published his plans and is currently canvassing feedback.

The Corporation’s plans have been provided to Government and we are waiting on an official response from Senator Fahy. 

Research: Simon Jones