Stake Bank is a project that had as many twists and turns in its development as any Disney themed ride. The project was given parliamentary approval in 2014. The exclusivity issue for the Fort Street Tourism Village was an issue, but that had been resolved. Therefore in August, 2017, the Government signed “Definitive Agreement” with the Feinstein Group to build the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility. The developer Mike Feinstein had received financing from Atlantic Bank and a consortium of international investors for the world class facility with two docks that would accommodate 4 Voyager class vessels and feature an 80 room resort and a marina, a theme park with water rides, a roller coaster and aquarium spread over 17 acres. At the time a Government press release stated that at least 500 Belizeans would be employed by the investment which was then estimated at 50 Million US dollars. Fast-forward to today’s groundbreaking that featured bipartisan support that would make the ICJ Referendum jealous, the Stakebank groundbreaking ceremony had the attendance of former Minister of Finance Ralph Fonseca; Leader of the Opposition John Briceno; UDP Senator Aldo Salazar; Attorney General Mike Peyrefitte; Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber; Pup Cayo South’s Julius Espat; Minister of Trade and Investment Tracy Taegar Panton, and Caribbean Area Shores Representative Kareem Musa. Mike Feinstein said that by the time the project is completed, the cost would be up to 82 million US dollars.

Mike Feinstein: “The Bankers for this project is being led by the Atlantic Bank Group. The Atlantic Bank is the lead organizer for the money for this project which is $67 million US on the island for a total of about $82 million before this project is done. This again will be 95 percent Belizean and from here the tenuring has been reduced by 40 percent going over to North Round Caye in much calmer waters, in a much more stable scenario. The terminals will be there, parking for 200 buses. Nobody will be left out of that one. Inside the terminal we make space for everybody so again all Belizean so the proposals is to do a causeway from Belize City to North Ground which is two miles. The causeway from here to North ground I have a feeling that will not be necessary but I will have to do what I have to do but the tenuring will work just fine, now reduced by 40%.

Jose Sanchez: “So have you completed all the EIA’s, gotten approval from NEAC, did your consultation. Did you expect any issues with environmentalist or people concerned about the environment.

Mike Feinstein: “Well this one is a done deal. North ground has full environmental clearances, the Cabinet sub committee has approved it. We are working out a few technicalities on moving forward with that project but there is no hold up with this one.

John Allyn VP EDSA INC.:  ‘We are Resort designers. We do destination Resort design all over the world. We have worked in six continents for over 50 years.

Jose Sanchez: “Okay so what do you expect to do in relation to State Bank?”

John Allyn VP EDSA INC.: “Well we want to create an experience that is unique and I have worked on projects in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and one thing that struck me from day one is that it is extremely unusual to find a place in Belize that offers everything. You have centuries of culture, you have history going back to the Mayans, natural beauty. Opportunities for all kinds of different things and you can find elements of those things all over the place but it is hard to find a place that has the potential for everything so I am very excited to find out what this can be. I think this project can become a gateway to the world, to the rest of Belize and to what Belzie has to offer but what we are trying to do is create a private pristine tranquil environment. Guests can get off the ship, they can spend the day in snorkel lagoon, they have opportunities to relax, to enjoy a water park. They can shop, dine and have fun and if go no further they can have an amazing time but the wonderful thing is you are literally minutes from the mainland. You’ve got everything that Belize has to offer there then you are literally minutes from offshore experiences, the best diving and fishing in the world so for guest experience that combination is phenomenal so I really think this project is going to be great for Belize.”

The project could be completed in two years.


Finally, A Stake Bank Groundbreaking

We first reported in the possibility of a cruise port with a docking facility at the Stake Bank Caye in 2006. It's an island owned by Mike Feinstein which is 6 miles off the Belize City Coast - and it promises to be the first Cruise Port in the Belize District with a berthing facility - meaning that cruise ships can pull right up and there would be no need for tendering.

But the promise has been lost in legal, political and financing battles for 13 years - and for a long time, it seemed to be a sure thing, but just never materialized. Matter of fact, there was even an act of parliament with bipartisan support to push it through...but until today, there were no shovels in the ground.

But, this morning, ground was actually broken on the mega million dollar project which promises to re-map the face of cruise tourism in the Belize District. Daniel Ortiz reports:...

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Government Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition, the Mayor of Belize City, and even past ministers of Government were among the VIP's who all travelled this morning to Stake Bank Caye.

To participate in the ground breaking ceremony for the Stake Bank Cruise Port project.

Developer Mike Feinstein, and his family enterprise, the Feinstein Group, went through quite a struggle, cutting through executive red tape for years, and they even had to win a legal battle against the owners of FSTV to make this day a reality.

Mike Feinstein - Developer, Stake Bank Cruise Port
"It has a very long time, but as I told one of the ministers, I said, I have a tiger by the tail, and I refuse to let it go. It will turn around and bite my ass (beep out "ass") but, I rest my case."

The Stake Bank Cruise Port should be up and running in about 2 years from today.

Troy Gabb - Project Manager, Stakebank
"In 18 to 24 months, these cruise vessels will now be able to turn off their engines, while in the Belize harbor, and additionally, the older passengers can now be encouraged to disembark, as well as majority of the cruise. This is not an option presently available to the cruise lines. Since the project is to construct the docking facilities which was announced back in August, many cruise lines that do not presently visit Belize, such as Holland America, and MSC etc., have formally expressed interest in obtaining docking space, so that they can now place Belize on their future itineraries."

Mike McFadden - Consultant
"We will start seeing many brands calling Belize that have not called before. My discussions with Disney, with MSC, with Viking, with Virgin, a brand new cruise ship under Sir Richard Brandson, are all very excited about this project, and most especially that they can come to a dock."

And that's because Stake Bank will become the second berthing and docking facility in Belize that can accommodate the latest models of cruise ships used by the worlds biggest cruise lines.

Mike McFadden - Consultant
"3 weeks ago, I attended a Florida Caribbean Cruise Association conference and presented this project to a number of cruise executives. The response was very positive, and 1 clear message was repeated over and over. The Western Caribbean needs a more dedicated cruise berths and port infrastructures to accommodate the latest generation of cruise ships to be deployed to the region. So, please get this project up and running ASAP. We heard that over and over again."

Developer Mike Feinstein now has the Government's full support build this facility.

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Attorney General
"Brother Mike, you have more bipartisan support than when we proposed to legalize 10 grams or less for marijuana. You have even have an Imam and a catholic priest."

Mike Feinstein - Developer, Stake Bank Cruise Port
"The bankers for this project is being led by the Atlantic Bank group. The Atlantic Bank is the lead organizer for the money for this project which is 67 million US dollars on the island and a total of 82 million before this project is done."

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Attorney General
"The time has come for Belize and Belizeans to stop thinking small. We have to accept that we have the ability to do anything on a world class level, like anybody else in the world. Brother Mike, you are extremely brave, and adventurous to start an investment like this from this stage. And the vision that you have for this place only an aggressive entrepreneur like yourself could see it, could envision it, could want it, and are willing to work so hard to get it."

And even though He's is a homegrown developer, Feinstein isn't compromising on what his vision for Stake Bank is.

John Allen - VP, EDSA INC
"What we're trying to is create a private, pristine, tranquil environment. Guests can get off their ship. They can spend the day here snorkel the Lagoon. They have opportunities to relax, to enjoy a water park. They can shop, dine, have fun, and if they go no further, they'll have an amazing time. But, the wonderful thing is you're literally minutes from the mainland. You have everything that Belize has to offer there. You're literally minutes to off-shore experiences, the best diving and fishing in the world. So, from a guest experience, that combination is phenomenal. So, I really think this project it gonna be great for Belize."

Feinstein says that Stake Bank will also make space for local tour operators to conduct business.

Mike Feinstein
"When we did the FSTV, it was called BTV at the time, Belize Tourism Village. It was 95% Belizean owned, all the stores and operating everything inside that village. Since we sold it, it became 95% foreign. This, again, will be 95% Belizean. And from here, the tendering has been reduced by 40%, going over to North Drowned Caye, in much calmer waters, a much more stable scenario. The terminals will be there, parking for 200 buses. Nobody will be left out of that one. We'll make space for everybody."

As viewers may be aware, the Stake Bank project has two major parts to it: Stake Bank and North Drown Caye. Mike Feinstein told reporters that there are some "technicalities" being worked out for North Drowned Caye.

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