ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Dissatisfied with how it dealt with financiers, a former senator has called on the Barbuda Council to explain why it rejected a multi-million dollar tourism investment for the island.
US investors made proposals to the Barbuda Council on Friday for a US $25 million investment that would see the revitalisation of the decaying K-Club Hotel and other investments.
However, former Senator Linton Thomas charged that the financers were turned away because the Barbuda Council is courting other investors.
“A proposal was put to the Barbuda Council on Friday and it was turned down. Because I was told, the counsellors are saying that someone else has the portion of land that they are asking for,” Linton revealed.
He said initially, the investors asked for the Beach House, an additional 60 acres of land and the K-Club.
Thomas is convinced that the US nationals, whose names he does not know, are “bona fide” people unlike the many who visit the 62 square mile island with no money to back up their plans.
“This group has money; this group told the council, we do not want your land to seek financing, we already have it,” Thomas said, adding that “in a gesture of good faith” the principals offered to place EC $10 million in an escrow account.
The former senator, who admitted that he did not attend the meeting where the proposal was made, said “all they want the land to do is to develop it.”
Council Chairman Kelvin Punter confirmed the meeting with investors last Friday. He agreed the proposal was sound but concluded that the former senator misunderstands the council’s position.
He said since the K-Club Hotel is not owned by the local government body, they can not give it away as part of any venture incentive.
“The investors that we met made it clear that without the K-Club, they do not want to consider any other part of the project,” Punter said.
“So with that, we could not have agreed to negotiate further where the K-Club is concerned.”
The K-Club, owned by Italian Mariuccia Mandelli, has been closed for the past eight years. Mandelli was given a 99-year lease, but there was no performance clause attached to the deal.
Since its closure, the facility has been in a state of deterioration and is now home to stray animals.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)