St. Vincent Times | 20 September 2023
Grenada govt in talks with developers to restart Kimpton Kawana Bay Resort
Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said on Tuesday that investors in an approved Citizenship by Investment (CBI) project who have been harmed by the government’s compulsory acquisition of land and property will be eligible to seek compensation.
“Anyone who has an interest in the property will have the opportunity to present any claims for an evaluation of their interest in the property, and they will be compensated accordingly,” Mitchell said during a news conference.
Last month, the Grenada government and a group of US investors who had been working through True Blue Development to build the 146-room Kawana Bay resort announced a resolution to their dispute, which had been pending before the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes since 2021.
True Blue Development’s request to fund the Kimpton Kawana Bay Project through the CBI program was approved by the then-government in 2016.
Grenada offered citizenship to foreign investors who made significant investments in the island’s socioeconomic development via the CBI program.
However, Grenada halted the clearance of CBI applications for the project in March-April 2021, citing financial problems.
The developer subsequently filed a lawsuit against the state, seeking US$111 million in damages.
When Prime Minister Mitchell took office in June of last year, his administration decided that the issue should be resolved by a discussion conducted by a group comprised of retired banker Richard Duncan, lawyer Leslie Ann Seon, and businesspeople Hassan Haddid and Henry Joseph.
Attorney General Claudette Joseph stated at the news conference that the acquisition of the property was not a financial burden on the state because the cost to settle was less than what was asked in the arbitration proceedings.
“Just to clarify for the benefit of the listening public, the state of Grenada was sued for US$111 million, and we settled the dispute for US$22 million, which is less than a third of what we were sued for,” Joseph, who is also the Minister for Legal Affairs, stated.
“There was no claim to the property (the land) as such in the arbitration claim because the property was owned by the True-Blue developers.” “Through the settlement, we were able to reclaim the property for the people of Grenada, which ended the arbitration dispute,” she added.
Prime Minister Mitchell told reporters that his administration has selected a new property policy for the future.
“In summary, the government made the decision to acquire the site so that we could have fresh negotiations with a new developer so that this project could be completed successfully so that construction could resume so that Grenadians who were previously working on the site and who became unemployed…could look forward to resumption of work.”
“So the government has acquired the site for a cost of US$22 million, and we will be making the necessary payments between now and next year,” he explained, adding that the government is “currently engaged in significant and advanced discussions with potential developers to resume construction.”
“At this time, we have not yet concluded a definitive deal, but we are optimistic that we will be able to return soon to announce the completion of this definitive deal.”
Mitchell stated that the site would only be transferred by leasehold, adding, “it will not be transferred by freehold…as we protect Grenada’s patrimony.”