No room for faith alone

Is that an echo I hear?  Oh right, it must be that time of year again for Club Med development and Dr. Brown is once again trumpeting the proposed success of yet another developer.  While I am pleased to hear that something is happening, excuse me if I sit amongst the pessimists who listened to Dr. Brown the last time when we switched developers from Quorum to KJA all while he was trumpeting KJA as the people to get it done.   As the saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”.   At last report, Quorum is still waiting to find out why exactly they were turned down at the last minute in favor of KJA.  Why was that again?

“The pessimists among you will say: ‘So what, there have been others who said they were going to build.’ I appreciate and understand your pessimism, but let me tell you I made a commitment: in 2007, construction will begin on the new hotel in St. George’s. I can promise you it will be delivered.

I wouldn’t say there have been others who said they were going to build, I would rather say there have been others who were willing and capable, but were replaced by those trumpeted as so but clearly proved otherwise.  One also couldn’t bother holding Premier Brown to his promise for very simply it only requires the laying of a couple blocks in a row and calling it a wall to pass for “construction”.  Hell, we could have had that the whole time.

Tell you what.  I’ll make a promise of my own.  I promise that I’ll believe it when I see it.

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6 thoughts on “No room for faith alone

  1. The real pesimists ask “What’s the opportunity cost of two decades of undeveloped Bermuda land with a large eyesore on it… and also “How much would that land be worth if we were to sensibly subdivide it into small lots, park, and commercial areas to allow the Town of St. George’s to be expanded onto that land, complete with modern small lanes and cute houses.
    Urban village style… except of course… just another village, complete with fast ferry service down North Shore (which is where the St. George’s Ferry should leave anyway to be fast enough to compete with car travel).
    Of course, then housing prices would fall, capacity for productive expats would increase, and we’d all have a higher standard of living.

  2. …and nobody wants that, because it robs the politicians of a political point scoring and a photo opportunity. Which, let’s face it, is what really matters.

  3. De Onion,
    I’d agree with you if you were referring to southlands. I would rather see that turned into a mix of urban living and parks that best utilized the space.
    As for Club Med, I’m still on board with it being turned into a decent hotel.

  4. The advantage of Club Med site vs. Southlands is that it has the non-road links to the City of Hamilton in the form of a fast, convenient ferry route that could replace St. George’s, as well as continuing the general urban pattern of the town St. George’s… which is one of Bermuda’s true wonders in terms of being aesthetically pleasing for visitors as well as a really nice place to live.
    The question that needs to be asked is “What’s the value added by a hotel in St. George’s?
    – As far as I can see it’s pretty minimal since it’s using a large amount of our limited transport, space, and other resources for economic activity that really doesn’t generate the kind of foreign exchange to really compete with international business in terms of value added. What I mean is that it does not create many high-paying jobs, since a hotel must hire low-rent workers from third world countries to be cost competitive and secure a labour force, the profits will flow offshore into a foreign shareholder’s pocket, the financing will likely be done by a foreign bank, so you end up with really low local economic multiplier beyond a very temporary construction income – which is not a true capital asset and is akin to the government spending money to boost the economy – looks good for a few months but in the long run nobody is better off.
    You have to ask – what would the market do if this piece of property were to be given to its highest economic value. There’s not much room on this – on a per square foot basis we get far more from housing.
    Not only that, but the potential hotel deals also essentially involve selling part of Bermuda to a foreign company which is at odds with my belief that we should own Bermuda, as well as own as much as possible of the rest of the world.
    I would much rather see a decent effort to figure out how to allow the market to create a few hundred extra houses that are really nice places to live. It’s a bit of a false dichotomy, but following this I would like to see government stop trying to piss off international businesspeople and instead figure out how to make it easier for foreign businesses to make more money by being in Bermuda – ie. make it easier for them to attract/retain the best people, then you end up with higher-level business going on here, more competition for talented Bermudians, higher wages (since there’s still a limited labour pool, by increasing the housing stock there are lower costs of living, so those people not able to participate directly in the wealth increase at the elite level are still better off through both general wage inflation and greater supply of the most restricted consumable item – housing. By making Bermuda a better, easier place to do business we give ourselves more leeway to have really high salaries (because we can create more compelling reasons to have a presence here to overcome the high labour cost). Maximize wages while lowering housing cost with minimal cost to traffic additions and no destruction of Bermuda’s distinctive look – in fact it’s better after removing that huge eyesore – and we all win. Big time.
    These things are all connected, but the simple summary is that with a hotel nobody wins but the people in the photo op.

  5. Electioneering Bullshit,it’s NOT a hotel,it’s a sell off of Bermuda’s land,as is Tucker’s Point ,Coco Reef,Newstead,Invururie,Belmont,Loughlands,Mermaid,Lantana,Bermudiana,
    and worst of all Southlands.
    Double talking nonsense: if the fools who vote El Duce in think roads and housing is at a crisis now, wait a few years when thousands more expats flood the market.They get the government their greed and stupidity deserves.

  6. Onion
    I sort of half agree with you. The East end of the island is underdeveloped, but I can’t help thinking its just not the right place to solve Bermuda housing problem.
    The housing crisis in Bermuda isn’t just about a shortage of housing. It’s also about a shortage of a type of housing. The population demographic of the island has changes. People are having fewer children and later in life. The term rule mean more of the expats are childless twenty somethings. These two issues create a high demand for studio/one bed flats.
    But developers have no interest in building studio or one bed flat. When you’ve got a plot of land its, easier, faster more profitable and indirectly encourage by the planning system to build detached 3-4 bed housing. Which is a bit of shame because studio or one-bed flats are higher density, mean more people on the same plot of land, and therefore less land built on in total.
    While St Georges would be a brilliant place for more family housing that’s just not the sort of housing that needs to be built. The ferry is no real use either. I live in St Georges and never used it. I have the option of getting the ferry at a set time, to take 30 minute to get to the dock in Hamilton, compared to the cheaper bike that leave anytime I want with a 25 minute trip to the front door of my office.
    My suggestion to help improve the East End of the island.
    -build a concrete promenade above the existing causeway. Vehicle below and a promenade above. People could walk, running, cycle and fish along the promenade, and below it would make the causeway feel much safer for drivers during the high winds of the winter.
    -increase the speed limit to 60 miles an hour for the road from the airport to the swing. The road is wide and straight enough for this. It will reduce that 5-minute drive from swizzle inn to the swing bridge that makes the east end of the island feel so isolated.

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