Royal Gazette: Trust urges public to oppose Southampton Princess SDO
A conservation charity urged residents today to speak out against a proposal for almost 150 residential units at the Fairmont Southampton resort.
The Bermuda National Trust, in a letter signed by its executive director, Karen Border, said that the properties will have a “severe” negative impact on the site’s tourism offering and the environment in general.
It came after Westend Properties, an affiliate of the Miami-based investment firm Gencom, unveiled plans to area residents to add a total of 261 units to the resort in a phased construction project expected to last up to 20 years.
Ms Border said that the BNT was pleased that the redevelopment of the iconic hotel — closed in October 2020 — looked as if it will begin soon, bringing “much needed economic benefit” to the island and hundreds of jobs.
She added: “BNT strongly supports the Bermuda tourism industry, which is such an important part of our economy and of our cultural heritage.
“For this reason, we understand that building additional fractional tourism units on the Fairmont Southampton site may be necessary to make the hotel renovation more financially viable and to increase visitor beds and local job opportunities.”
Ms Border wrote: “However, we are extremely concerned with the proposed new special development order, which would double the number and height of the buildings proposed in 2009 from 130 to 261 units, some of them six storeys high, saturating all the remaining open space on the site — apart from the golf course — in concrete.
“Our primary concern is with the addition of the 147 proposed residential units, most of which will be sold to foreign buyers as second homes and would bring very limited benefit to Bermuda and Bermudians.
“Gencom will gain from the sale of these units, but everyone else would lose, as they would have a severe negative impact on the tourism amenity at Fairmont Southampton and our environment overall.
“The golfing experience and the views from and of the hotel will be impacted, and the infrastructure and facilities of the whole site will be overburdened.
“In exchange, Bermuda gets a short-term bump in construction business, and some low-paid cleaning jobs.”
An SDO granted in 2009 gave planning permission in principle for 71 fractional tourism properties, 37 residential villas and 22 town homes.
Plans seen recently by area residents indicated that the developers hoped to add 114 tourism units, each with two to four bedrooms, at the site, as well as the 147 residential units.
Westend Properties said in a February update that a new SDO application was “in the process of being submitted”.