Beach bars located on the South Friars Beach have had their leases abruptly terminated as that area is getting ready to welcome the Ritz Carlton hotel chain.
Information reaching this publication indicates that the beach bar owners on the south-eastern section of South Friars last week were given notice that their leases will end at the end of February from the land owners.
The businesses that have been terminated in that location are the ever popular Shipwreck Bar, Discovery Beach Bar and Sunset Beach Bar & Grill. However the Carambola Beach Club who is located near to that location will remain.
In an official statement Shipwreck confirmed that they had the lease to their land terminated but stated it was expected. It read, “We have received a notice to vacate the land by the end of February, we did know it was likely, but yes it was a bit quicker than we thought.
They also noted they will be looking at their options and have requested for more time from the Authorities.
They however promised they will conduct business as normal until the situation changes.
Since news broke of the termination of the bars for a new hotel development reaction has been swift with rallying groups being formed to try and to save the beaches.
One such groups is “Save Our Beaches in St Kitts & Nevis” that was has made a call for everyone to support the local beach bars in that area with a rally on the weekend.
Also providing resistance is Charles Rothy who said he was a firm supporter of the local businesses on South Friars Beach and it’s culture and nature.
”I have started a petition to stop the development of this beach by the big corporations,” he said adding that he has contacted PM Harris to voice my concerns,” he said.
One past visitor to the island said, “This is such a beautifully rustic original tropical paradise. It would great to see it stay that way. Too many unique destinations are falling prey to big money and greed. Some of this island has already been overtaken by modernization. Please leave some of the paradise alone!”
Prime Minister Harris addressing the matter indicated that the Cabinet has met with the bar owners to see how the government could assist in their difficulty.
Dr. Harris stated that all the lands in that area are under private ownership after the former administration earmarked it for foreign interest. He said, “Truth be told all the lands at the peninsula are now privately owned and not by the government. When the former administration acquired lands there they seeded those lands to foreign investment.”
He stated that there is no truth to the rumours stating that the government owns lands in that area and are now making them available to private operators. ”We are prepared to use our good offices to bring reconciliation and amicable resolution to disputes especially where the ordinary people are up against the mighty and heavily resourced foreign interest.”
The Prime Minister noted that they intend to meet with the land owners as the one month notice was unfair. “It was with this good intention that the bar operators were invited. As a consequence of that meeting we now intend to meet with the seller and prospective buyers in the South Friars Beach area.
“It is now public knowledge that all of the operators know that the lands they presently occupy were privately owned and they know the private party because they entered into lease arrangements and consented vacate the demise properties within one months notice,” Dr Harris said
He stated that he understood the plight of the bar operators as giving someone one month’s notice to disrupt their business could be a real inconvenience and that has jolted the government into action. He said, ”We have reached out to the lawyers representing the other parties and I reached out to other persons and I said to them ask the principles to come and have a discussion and see how we can advance a win-win situation for all.”
“The government’s job in all of this is to step up and stand up for fairness and justice.”
He however, noted that this new development would provide significant jobs for the economy. ”What is important they tell us that this new Hotel will create over 300 new jobs when construction starts and they expect to start later this year.”
We will work with developers to ensure that there deep sense of social responsibility encourages them to create appropriate facilities and amenities for local people to offer a high quality product,” PM Harris indicated.
Dr. Harris also disclosed that at least three luxury hotels are showing keen interest in operating in St. Kitts and Nevis.
He added that in a matter of weeks he will be able to say which are the three luxury hotels with the Ritz Carlton Hotel being one.