Chinese national to invest EC$107 million in condo resort in St. Thomas “This will be different than HTrip Candy Resort”

A US$40 million condominium resort project funded by a Chinese national is expected to begin this year and is said to be nothing like “Candy Resort.”

On Thursday, a public consultation was held at the Methodist Church in Fountain as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the project. The resort will be located on a 8 1/2- acre plot in Spring Hill on the Westbury main road. The project consists of 150 units that comprise 36 700-sq.-ft. studios; 39 one-bedroom units at 775 square feet each; 75 two-bedrooms units with 1,012 square feet each; and three-bedroom units, a swimming pool, a restaurant, lobby, tennis court and gym.

The project is designed to be installed in two phases, with the construction work on the condominium commencing this year and concluding in 2020. Each phase is expected to involve the installation of six building during an 18-month period and the installation of the site and other ancillary facilities in a 12-month period. The resort is expected to attract high-income residential tourists from China and North America.

Speaking with the Observer at the conclusion of the consultation, Leith Richards, a consultant for the EIA who was joined by Richard Lee, project manager, said that a number of people are expected to be employed during the construction phases, as well as during the opening. It is expected that 130 workers will be employed during construction, and a little more than 50 during operations.

“The contractors are expected to be local, however, the construction process will be intensive,” Richards said. “Six buildings are to be constructed during an 18-month period, not including the facilities, the pools, the roads or the bridges. They are suggesting they will have at least six contactors on the site. As long as there is a workforce here, there shouldn’t be a problem.”

She said the project is a part of Siengen Investment and Development Corporation Ltd., which is located in Nevis but owned by a Chinese national.

“Siengen is owned by one individual,” Richards said. “This gentleman has citizenship [of] the federation. He owns a major share in the Jeshing Group, a major investment in China. The Jeshing group is funding this project; they are the major financing arm for this project, so this group is a development that does housing across Asia and Australia as well. They are providing the resources as well to put this in place.”

She revealed that the resort is expected to be a part of the Citizenship By Investment Program once the approval process is cleared. “The CBI program is dependent on the approval being granted locally,” she said

The government of St. Kitts and Nevis has a long-running citizenship-by-investment program attracting foreigners who make a substantial contribution to the development of the country. Investors, along with any family members, can directly qualify for citizenship through investment, either by making a  donation or investment in a real estate purchase.

Richards noted that this project will not fall in the same fate as the HTrip Candy Resort.

“Spring Hill Condominium Resort is a different project,” she said. “In this case, you have a wealthy investor from China building a condominium resort. This investor has already done this in other parts of the world. In the case of HTrip Candy Resort, you had a situation where people bought shares into a development and so, the pressure on such a system is different, because if you have shareholders leave you hanging, then you don’t have a project. But in this case, it’s not up to shareholders; the shareholder is the owner.”

Since 2011, there have been 25 hotel projects proposed. Five have started construction, according to the Department of Physical Planning. Projects include two for St. Paul, nine for St. Thomas, 11 for St. James, two for St. Georges and one for St. Johns.

None of the projects for St. Johns, St. Georges or St. Pauls have begun. St. Thomas has begun work on one development and four have been started in St. James.

When questioned as to how soon before the project begins,,Richards said, “as soon as the building applications are approved, they can start the tendering process.”