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Harcourt freezes €250m Royal Oasis development
Sunday, 07 December 2008 22:02

Sunday, December 07, 2008  By Ian Kehoe, Chief News Correspondent

Dublin property company Harcourt Developments has told the government of the Bahamas that it will have to put a €250 million (U.S. $319 million) resort on hold because of the financial crisis.

However, the group, headed by businessman Pat Doherty, told the government it was committed to the Royal Oasis resort project and would advance it when it was financially able to do so.

Hubert Ingraham, prime minister of the Bahamas, confirmed the dialogue with Harcourt Developments in recent days, amid growing concern for the future of the landmark project on Grand Bahama.

‘‘The Harcourt Group has now told us that they have been affected by the financial crisis and they are not going to be able to proceed as they expected,” Ingraham said in a statement. ‘‘They sent my office a number of drawings and renditions as to what they are proposing to do when they are in a position financially to do so.”


Harcourt Developments completed the purchase of the Royal Oasis resort, a 427-acre property on Grand Bahama, last November, and the Irish firm is commit ted to a €250 million redevelopment plan.

The proposed development is to include a 650-bedroom hotel, a casino, restaurants, a mall and convention centre and two golf courses. Foxwood Development Company, a casino operator owned by a native American tribe, was signed up in February to manage the hotel and casino.

Ingraham said the government had an agreement with Harcourt Developments, under which it would pay the Dublin firm $8 million for marketing support. ‘‘We paid the first $4 million and another $4million is due; we have argued with them that we are not going to pay it - the second $4 million - until they commence the construction and redevelopment of the site,” he said.

The Royal Oasis closed four years ago after it was severely damaged by Hurricane Francis. The Bahamian government was responsible for selling the resort. It initially accepted an offer from World Investment Holdings (WIH), an investment consortium financed by Lehman Brothers.

However, that deal fell through, and Harcourt subsequently agreed a deal with the state to buy the property.