Two developers, one West End

A clearer picture of the development's future is starting to take shape. Going forward there are two intertwined developers on the property, Replay Resorts on behalf of the Resort Holdings (aka Credit Suisse Lending Group / G-LA Resorts) and Crave Real Estate Ventures on behalf of LRA OBB Resorts (Lubert Adler) / West End Resort (WERL).

Replay manages all the red areas in the map above (larger map), which include:

  • Existing unsold lots
  • Majority of the undeveloped land, specially on the east side of the property.
  • Airport
  • Gate House and Beach Clubs

Crave manages the other areas (excluding West End Settlement), which include:

  • Golf Course (dedicated to the use for all owners)
  • The "Core" and North Shore next to Old Bahama Bay
  • Water and Sewer Utility Plants
  • Old Bahama Bay Resort and the connected residential development

With the land holdings intermingled, it is important that both teams agree on a unified vision for the development and work in tandem to offer complementary services and amenities. This is fairly common in the development of properties as large as West End.

Lorne Bassel, President of Crave, told the Bahamas Weekly that the "West End region is now a community of developers, not just a single entity. What that means is that present and future property owners can take comfort in the diversity of expertise and the concentration of focus. We’re happy to see other developers and investors involved. Anyone who understands this industry knows that having more participation from distinct contributors is beneficial to the entire effort, especially in today’s market.”

He expanded, “This new community structure allows all other stakeholders to assume control of their lands rather than rely on one company for all services. Many resorts have moved away from a ‘one ownership’ structure and become extremely successful. There are simply more people to carry the load.”

Bassel acknowledged to the Tribune that investor confidence in West End had been undermined by "the involvement of so many parties, together with uncertainty over division of land/responsibilities and the protracted process for the Credit Suisse-led lending syndicate to take control," but added that clarity will be restored.

While both developers are still tuning their plans, it is clear that the previous mega resort concept is a "a thing of the past." Instead expect a more sustainable, eco-friendly development with an authentic feel.

Basset told the The Nassau Guardian that "the concept of a hotel and casino has been placed on the back burner." To The Tribune he added that they "are doing what we can to stimulate interest [with external investors], and it'll come when the market and the financing is available. We are talking to different groups. We are making sure the opportunity is known internationally, but we aren't pushing too hard."

Instead, Crave plans to first build 25-30 homes on the western tip of Harbor Island (behind the OBB marina) through a partnership with West End Resort and slowly expand from there.

Derek Gape, senior Project manager for OBB Resorts told the Bahamas Weekly that “with the Old Bahama Bay condo hotel and marina as the existing anchor property, we are working to extend that success along the north shore beach land. That’s the natural and obvious path of progression for the property."

Replay has not announced plans for their parcels yet, but is actively seeking input from existing lot owners through surveys and phone conversations.

News Clippings

OBB Resort pursues 'critical mass' development

Old Bahama Bay owners clarify the situation on land ownership and responsibilities in West End developments

WEST END PROJECT 'CRAV-ING' SUCCESS

WEST END'S 'FRONT DOOR' DEAL BOOST

'NOT PUSHING' ON WEST END HOTEL/CASINO

Title Transfer Complete!

Finally!

Resort Holdings (aka Credit Suisse Lending Group / G-LA Resorts) today announced that it has obtained controlling title of the former Ginn Sur Mer resort community and has engaged Replay Resorts to continue its two-year relationship with the new owners in advancing the development of the resort community.

The transferred assets include 1,500 acres of land and the associated development rights, 632 finished lots, and an airport including a helicopter landing pad. Replay is an internationally recognized Vancouver-based company focused on the planning, design, development and operation of destination resorts and resort villages.

“Replay is an ideal partner to manage this incredible asset,” said Ted Dameris, Managing Director of the firm with the largest stake in the new ownership group. “With its extensive experience in large-scale master-planned resort developments, we are certain Replay can help us bring this irreplaceable oceanfront community back to life. We are also grateful to the Prime Minister and the Bahamian government which has been diligent and responsive when necessary to assist getting this transfer done in a timely manner.”

Although the Sur Mer resort community has endured a prolonged period of uncertainty, the new owners ensured that the construction of vital infrastructure never ceased and has now been completed. With the finalization of the title transfer process, the resort is ready to begin marketing again to potential owners. More than $500 million has been invested to create a distinctive community complete with a marina, hotel, golf course and airport.

On behalf of the new ownership group, Replay intends to bring this vision to fruition with preparations underway to re-engage the market and to continue the development of the residential component of the resort.

Over the next six months, the focus will be on master planning, re-engaging the marketplace with today’s emerging destination home customer in mind, commencing a builders’ program, construction of model homes, and preparing for a sales launch. This process will include market research within the US and Canada, as well as discussions with the existing owners in the community.

“We are pleased for all involved that this resort community has a chance to move forward once again,” said Bill Green, C.O.O. of Replay and spokesman for the project. “Dialogue will begin immediately with the current owners and other stakeholders so that they can help to shape the master planning process. We have been working with this ownership group at Ginn sur Mer for over two years and are eager to re- engage the marketplace”.

After years of nearly no communication from Ginn, it will be very nice to have an engaged development group involved with the project. I am still uncertain on Lubert Adler's involvement with the new entity - hopefully we will have some answers later in the week.

News Clippings

GINN SUR MER RESORT SOLD

Title transfer signals new beginning for Sur Mer

G-LA Resorts gains control of Ginn

BIG MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB' OVER EX-GINN PROJECT

Title Transfer Imminent

The Nassau Guardian is reporting the Replay is onsite at the development, and that the title transfer from Ginn is "imminent".

Bill Green, the chief operating officer of the aptly-named Replay Resorts Inc., told Guardian Business from Grand Bahama the company will take on the title on behalf of the owners and move forward with development.

“We’re trying to make our way through, but I can tell you the title transfer is imminent,” he said.

“We’re at the final stages now and we’re here in person because the title will transfer in the next few days. And we want to make sure if there are decisions made we have boots on the ground.”

...

Replay Resorts has been brought on to serve as manager of the still unnamed development. Originally envisioned as a $4.9 billion development, it was meant to include houses, condos, an airport, a marina and an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course.

Although many of these elements will likely come to pass, Green told Guardian Business a shift in development philosophy could be underway.

“Taking a look at the master plan, we will make sure it is paced and sized to match the speed of the market,” he explained.

“The houses we build must match the market. Florida purchasers who wanted to build big homes with a strong investment orientation are not so much the focus. Now we’re needing to look in other places and adjust. We also need to gear ourselves to people who spend significant time there because they love the place.”

...

Green confirmed that the Ginn Sur Mer name has been “taken off of everything”. For now, the staff are simply referring to the site as “Old Bahama Bay”

Resort Holdings ready to move forward after legislature passes transfer tax bill

The ongoing drama of Ginn's default is edging closer to a resolution. The Bahamas legislature this week passed a bill that allows Resort Holdings (aka Credit Suisse Lending Group / G-LA Resorts) to pay 2% stamp duty on the transfer of 1,500 acres (instead of the normal 12%), and assigns the lender "developer status" under the original Heads of Agreement. That agreement, which Ginn negotiated in 2005-2008, contains economic incentives for the development.

With the law passed, Credit Suisse is ready to execute transfer agreements in which Resort Holdings - a company owned by the lenders - would "become the absolute beneficial owner of the mortgaged property."

Resort Holdings proposed to the government that within the first six months following the transfer of the land, they will focus on "master planning; re-engaging the marketplace; commencing a builders’ program; construction of model homes; and preparing for sales launch."

It is still unclear if Resort Holdings and Lubert Adler are finally joining forces to develop the project together.

From the Bahamas Prime Minister

Background to the Ginn Act

My Government has tabled a Bill to amend the Modification of Provisions (Ginn LA-West End Grand Bahama) Act.

This honourable House may recall that in 2005, the Government of The Bahamas concluded a Heads of Agreement with Ginn-LA West End, Limited, the original Developer of the Ginn Sur Mer Project at West End, Grand Bahama.

The 2005 Heads of Agreement purported to grant the Developer considerable concessions which were not permissible in law.

My Government, in 2008, sought to honour the Agreement made between the Government and the Developer, and did so by enacting appropriate legislation to give effect to the concessions provided for in the Heads of Agreement. Accordingly, My Government enacted the Modification of Provisions (Ginn LA-West End Grand Bahama) Act 2008 (“the Ginn Act”) .

Many of the concessions in the Heads of Agreement related to the stamp duty rates which would be applicable in certain circumstances. Clause 2.1.8(a)(i) of the Agreement provided that the applicable rate of stamp duty for sales of $250,000 or more shall be 2% for any unimproved lot sold by the Developer during the period commencing on the date the Developer shall sell the first unimproved lot in the Project and ending on the date which is five years after the date on which the Developer shall sell the first unimproved lot in the Project.

In 2008, My Government concluded a Second Amendment to the Heads of Agreement. Clause 2 confirmed and ratified that the date of the first sale of an unimproved lot was the 12th day of October 2006. Accordingly, the concession provided under this provision will expire, five years later, on or about the 12th October 2011.

Background to the Mortgage

This Honourable House is advised that the Ginn Sur Mer project is owned by the Developer, as well as another company called Ginn-LA OBB, Limited, which was a subsidiary developer.

The Developer owns approximately 1,500 acres of the Project. The Developer mortgaged its land as security for a loan of $276,750,000 in favour of Ginn-LA Conduit Lender, Inc., which subsequently (in 2006) transferred its rights to Credit Suisse AG, Cayman Islands Branch as Administrative Agent and Collateral Agent for a syndicate of Lenders (“the Lenders”).

In 2008, the Developer defaulted on the loan and the Lenders commenced steps to realise their security. As at 2010, the parties contemplated amicable measures to convey the Borrower’s equity of redemption to the Lenders using the concessionary rate provided in the 2005 Heads of Agreement and the Ginn Act 2008.

My Government was advised that once these measures had proven unsuccessful, on 12th May 2011, the Lenders commenced foreclosure proceedings in the Supreme Court of The Bahamas. On 1st September 2011, the Lenders filed to discontinue the foreclosure proceedings, as the parties again determined that they would pursue a conveyance of the equity of redemption in the mortgaged property.

Conveyances to this effect were concluded and placed in escrow, pursuant to an Escrow Agreement executed on 31st August 2011, between the relevant parties. It is intend that a company owned by the Lenders, namely G-LA Resorts (Bahamas), Limited, would become the absolute beneficial owner of the mortgaged property.

Requests of the Government – Amendments to the Ginn Act

In furtherance of continuing the Ginn Project in respect of the mortgaged land, the Lenders have requested that Government:

  • Approve an assignment to the Lenders of the Heads of Agreement made the 9th day of December 2005 between the Government and Ginn-LA West End, Limited, as amended in 2006 and 2008;
  • Amend the Ginn Act 2008 to include the proposed assignment of the Heads of Agreement and to enable the Lenders to benefit from the Ginn Act as a Developer.
  • Amend the Ginn Act 2008, and Heads of Agreement, to enable the concessionary rate of 2% stamp duty to be applicable beyond the 12th October 2011, but solely in respect of the proposed conveyance of the equity of redemption from the Borrowers to the Lenders.
  • Allow no stamp duty to be payable on conveyances or transfers of property or equity interest in a property from a Developer to an entity wholly owned by members of the resort community (for example, a homeowners association). This is provided the property is for the benefit of the community. It is contemplated that this would accommodate the transfer of roadways, canals and amenities, which would otherwise have no intrinsic value.

Accordingly, My Government agreed and did so table the Modification of Provisions (Ginn LA-West End Grand Bahama) (Amendment) Bill, 2011.

In making such a decision, My Government took into consideration:

  • The potential benefit the continuation of this development would have on the economy of Grand Bahama
  • The capital invested in the Ginn Project to date
  • The Lenders’ development intentions once they become the absolute owners of the mortgaged properties.

My Government has been advised that approximately $505 million have been expended by the Developers as at 30th June 2011 on the development of the Ginn Project. Besides land acquisitions and various legal and marketing fees associated with the Project, the amount expended includes capital works amounting to approximately $200 million including in respect of

  • Roads and canals infrastructure
  • Marina infrastructure
  • Beach club and gatehouse facilities
  • The utility infrastructure required for the Project
  • And a championship 18-hole golf course

The Lenders have advised Government that it intends to continue the development of the property once they have full ownership of the same.

My Government has required that they do so in conformance with the plans and designs previously approved in the Heads of Agreement, as it relates to the mortgaged property.

The Government is advised that the Lenders have engaged in extensive preparations to continue the development of the residential component of the resort, including market research and planning.

They have retained Replay Resorts, a Canadian-based company which specialises in large-scale master planned resort developments, to move forward with the development.

The Lenders’ Project Timetable submitted to Government provides that during the first six months following the Lenders becoming the absolute owners of the mortgaged lands, they propose to focus on: master planning; re-engaging the marketplace; commencing a builders’ program; construction of model homes; and preparing for sales launch.

I am advised that whereas the Lenders were prepared to execute the conveyances in escrow, they are reluctant to close the transaction before knowing that they would be approved to obtain the benefits and concessions provided for by the Ginn Act 2008 to enable them to carry on the development as originally intended.

Accordingly, My Government has table the Bill to amend the Ginn Act before this Honourable House.

Read More...

Oct 10th: Statement from the goverment

Oct 10th: TRANSPARENCY CALL ON '$35M' CREDIT SUISSE TAX BREAK

Oct 7th: CREDIT SUISSE GAINS 10% PT GINN TAX BREAK

Oct 4th: JUSTICE BLASTS 'ABUSE' BY GINN/CREDIT SUISSE

Sep 9th: Credit Suisse 'drops' $4.9bn Ginn foreclose

Ginn Foreclosure NOT Complete!

Update: The foreclosure did not occur, as both parties agreed it would be easier to simple transfer the land voluntarily. See later posts for updates.

The Nassau Guardian is reporting that the "intense three-year legal battle between the Ginn Development Company and a Credit Suisse-led consortium of lenders has finally come to an end."

Ginn agreed to the foreclosure of 1476 acres instead of paying more than $78 million in overdue payments ($61m in back payments, $16m in interest).

“The defendant does henceforth stand absolutely debarred and foreclosed of and from all right title interest and equity of redemption of in and to the said mortgaged property,” the Supreme Court ordered.

As previously reported, the Credit Suisse syndicate will now control the majority of the development, with Lubert Adler retaining the Core, North Shore Beach, and Old Bahama Bay.

Crave Real Estate has been retained by Adler to develop their property, and Replay Resorts are working with Credit Suisse.

With the foreclosure complete, the teams can move forward with a new vision for the development.

Ginn is out, Replay Resorts knocking on the door

Lubert Adler (the money behind Ginn) has severed its relationship with Ginn, and is working with Credit Suisse to bring in a new developer to take the development from the current base infrastructure level to an actual resort. Lubert Adler likely controls the resort core, golf course, and land surrounding Old Bahama Bay, while Credit Suisse controls the unsold solds, so they have to work together.

Re:Play, a Vancouver based company that focuses "on the planning, design, and operation of destination resorts, resorts villages and urban villages" is rumored to be the leading contender, and may take over the development as early as this quarter.

Ginn out, Lubert-Adler takes over?

GoToby reported in December that "Bobby Ginn's 12-year business affiliation with his Philadelphia-based real estate investment partner Lubert-Adler is now winding down." "The last property to lose the Ginn name is Ginn sur Mer, Bobby's flagship $4.9B mega yacht - casino project which remains unfinished on Grand Bahama, though significant infrastructure has been completed. The future of the Credit Suisse portion of the development is uncertain at this time. However there is significant unencumbered real estate including Old Bahama Bay, which is operational."

Source