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Stake Bank Project Unveiled #471893
09/05/13 05:25 AM
09/05/13 05:25 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 60,573
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP

Bright Future But Could There Be Dark Clouds Ahead?

Tonight, Belize City’s Cruise Ship Future is either brighter than ever – or more clouded than it has been in a while. That’s after Developer Mike Feinstein unveiled his Stake Bank Caye Project today. The project has been in discussion for nearly a decade, but Feinstein says the stars have aligned, and he’s pushing forward to make it happen. Our sources say, there are more than a few hurdles in the way, not least of which is that, unlike Norwegian Cruise Line in the South, Feinstein has no Memorandum of Understanding with Government. But, to hear him tell it, the project – which will be developed 2 miles off Belize City – is too good, too big for Government to resist. 7news was at the press conference, and Jules Vasquez has a full report:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
This morning at the Biltmore Best Western, the Toucan Hall was very full - standing room only, actually for the public unveiling of the Stake Bank Plan. The mix in the crowd was interesting, we saw bankers, lawyers, industry stakeholders and businesspeople wanting to know what the promise of this mega project means for Belize.

First, an introduction: What is commonly called the Stake Bank project is actually two complementary projects. One on the smaller Stake Bank which would be a berthing facility for four cruise ships and a destination complete with duty free, beaches and a theme park. And that would connect via causeway then to North Drowned Caye for a mega development called Ocean View Grand. Feinstein outlined the Stake Bank Proposal:

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"This area is shopping, this is going to be a theme park - the theme actually we're trying to recreate the Blue Hole with the Mayan theme - the rest of it is beaches and bars, restaurants and so on. Also a small marina for bigger yachts and very importantly a crew facility when a ship has an average of 1200 - 1300 crew, I think we're getting presently 7 million dollars a year revenue from the crew - that should increase to about 40 million."

From there we go to the other project component which is is North Drowned Caye, a mega development called Ocean View Grand - that would be connected to State Bank with a 2 and 3 quarter mile causeway t

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"This is North Drowned Caye, here we have the facility which is another destination which is about 10 to 12 acres. A hotel company, a residential area and a duty free shopping area for Belizean; this entire island is accessible to Belizeans."

North Drowned Caye connected to Belize City via a 2 mile causeway and Belizeans - he proposes would be able to come over for duty free shopping.

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"With 350 million dollars being spent in Mexico, Chetumal annually - there doesn't seem to be a plan to keep that money or any of it at home so I think this project is designed to do just about that."

As visualized on the artist's rendering, it is a huge project, the likes of which have never been seen in Belize:

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"What this whole entire project means to the economy of Belize and presently Belize receives 61 million US dollars from Cruise Tourism, 7 million from crew, the number will definitely go up to at least 250 million US dollars and another 40 from the crew. If we can keep 200 million Belize back into the economy here, you're looking at a project that will give back into the economy 700 million Belize dollars a year."

Big money and big talk but today’s understated presentation was perhaps too simplified, because if this all seems so simple, so doable, one has to wonder why it had not been done before:

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"Government interference - that's what it is - I think we're all understanding."

And while that terse response won coos from he audience, it’s not clear where this project stands with Government. Firstly, they have one last environmental hurdle to clear:

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"We have a copy here of a new ACP that was drawn up in August and what is left is a decision has to be made on a monitoring fee and that has not yet been done. I understand that should be done this week and then that document is then ready for signature and I was told that I can quote that."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you in accord with the state or is there any agreement with the state that you can go ahead?"

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"We have a full agreement drafted and Mr. Marshall Eck is here to confirm that - it has been presented to the government already (13 copies) and my understanding is that the government will start dealing that at the next Cabinet meeting on the 14th."

But there is very reliable word that A National Economic Development Committee led by Investment CEO Mike Singh does not approve of the project. Feinstein said, basically, government has to agree:

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"One answer - 700 million dollars a year pumped into the economy, there are a few negatives that's been around but I hope we've cleared that up today."

"Job creations?"

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"3,700 permanent jobs, thet trickle down effect is thousands more."

And while it is left to be seen if, on the balance, Government finds that sufficiently persuasive, the fact is Feinstein doesn’t currently have 100 million dollars to invest in this project:

Jules Vasquez
"Have you sourced financing or are you prospecting for financiers?"

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"We have a bridge financing in place to begin now and the complete loan will take about 6 months but we have bridge financing to get started tomorrow."

Jules Vasquez
"As far as I know, you do not have any sanction or any agreement with the state and then the second question arises - that is Norweigan Cruise Line - they are the third largest cruise line in the world and out of the big ones, they are the most elite. How can a homegrown effort, with all due respect and patriotic sentiment, hope to compete with the great Norweigian Cruise Line which is a multinational company?"

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"There's no competition, we have 100 million to do ours and they have 50 million to do theirs."

Michael McFadden - President, MAC Martime Inc, Consultant
"I think you can see where we are going today and what a great advantage it will be to have a project like State Bank - that is in the hands of local developers, local stakeholders and local population - rather than just being an extension of a cruise line business."

But even as the project is being touted as homegrown, Feinstein said some very big fish are interested in swimming up to his island and making way:

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"We have an agreement that is signed by even Carnival as well as Royal Caribbean that they cannot object to the State Bank Project. In fact Royal Caribbean is hoping to be an investor in this project and they have pretty much committed to that."

But even with that backing, Feinstein says there is only one sure fire deal breaker:

Mike Feinstein - Developer
"The Prime Minister is - as said publicly - only Norwegian will be allowed to use that facility, that being the case then I have no problem. But if that changes, the agreement actually reads that they are allowed to bring whatever they want down south - then I will not do this project."

But, according to his consultant, the timing is ripe:

Michael McFadden
"Is the timing right to do a project like this? I should say so and what this accommodates is in the first phase is dedicating four berths to accommodate 4 vessesl of any size as a start plus all the related infrastructure and that will make a quantum change"

A 'quantum change' that FECTAB is completely signed unto. Presdient Tom Greenwood positively gushed:

Tom Greenwood - President, FECTAB
"There is this magnificent project by the Feinstein family - 100 % Belizean project. Were we caught between fires? Of course not, FECTAB is there to do one thing first - and that is to take care of it's members. We sat down with the Feinstein Group and said well let's look at this whole thing and it behooves us to support this project because the industry is evolving. If by 2015, just a year and a half away, if by then we don't have direct berthage and I think you all can support me on this - the cruise lines are out of here."

But what about those FECTAB members who operate cruise tenders?

Tom Greenwood
"Evolution is taking place and within evolution there is pain - there's not only pain, there is loss, something’s are left aside while some things move forward. We were caught in a particular fire there because we've got probably about 17 people involved in tendering. I have said to them, it's time to take your catamarans and fix them up in such a way that 8 or 10 people can sleep aboard and establish a fantastic tour from Belize City to Punta Gorda and back. Wouldn't that be a seller? That's what we're talking about, evolving. All these dozens of Belizeans, doing what they need to do to survive, will they be able to access that island? Resounding Yes was the answer from Mike. Are we going to get a space there? A resounding yes. Is it going to be free? A little hesitance and so I want to ask Mike to endorse our request that the federation members will have access to that island."

Mike Feinstein - Developer

Tom Greenwood
"Well, ladies and gentlemen"

And if you didn’t hear it, Feinstein said absolutely, and of course, he would because the project right now is looking for allies because it will likely be opposed by environmentalists since the causeway cuts clear across a marine protected area:

Jose Pepe Garcia - Environmental Consultant
"The environmental impacts were very minimal - it was studied and mitigated against and the other one is the social impact. I think the social impact is very great in this project so I will endorse this project also."

Roque Matus - Project Engineer
"I can't see how some piles in the water will affect these fishes and the marine life. Absolutely no manatee will die from this project, however, if you look at the tendering back and forth - I think that is more dangerous to the manatee than a bridge."

For those not familiar with his record, Feinstein was the developer and founder of the Fort Street Tourism Village which he sold to Royal Caribbean for a rumored 18 million dollars.

We were unable to reach investment CEO Mike Singh who is on leave.

As for the project’s environmental compliance plan – which was reviewed by the National Environmental Assessment Committee yesterday – we are today told that the situation is not as dire as Chief Environmental Officer Martin Allegria put it to us yesterday. NEAC did have issues with an environmental monitoring fee and did oppose what is called “fuel lightering” on the island, but pending those issues, best reports say, it has the environmental green light. The question now is whether it will get the governmental green light. Weeks to come will tell that story.

Channel 7

Re: Stake Bank Project Unveiled [Re: Marty] #471946
09/05/13 06:01 PM
09/05/13 06:01 PM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,054
Asheville, NC USA
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Lan Sluder/Belize First  Offline
Is this new version of the Stake Bank causeway a big joke, or what? Surely Feinstein and his pals are kidding?!

Re: Stake Bank Project Unveiled [Re: Marty] #471957
09/06/13 03:06 AM
09/06/13 03:06 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 12,424
San Pedro Belize
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline
This could be good material for the Onion.

Re: Stake Bank Project Unveiled [Re: Marty] #472518
09/14/13 05:55 AM
09/14/13 05:55 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 60,573
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP

Stake Bank Cruise Port worries conservationists

The Feinstein Group’s plan to construct a causeway through the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary poses great risks for the manatees that live in that area, Sea to Shore’s Manatee Research Associate Jamal Galvez said Thursday.

Galvez, while not able to give an exact figure for how many manatees are in the area, said that the causeway, which is significant component of the Stake Bank Cruise Port initiative, threatens to disturb what could effectively be defined as a manatee nursery.

“Many manatees and their calves can be seen around Swallow Caye. The mammal often goes to that place because it’s quiet, calm and relatively safe,” Galvez explained.

Last Wednesday, Civil engineer, Roque Matus, of M&M Engineering, the company which the Feinstein Group has contracted to build the causeway, says the causeway will actually diminish the threats to manatees.

Matus said the causeway would considerably reduce boat traffic in the area, since the port would remove the need for cruise tenders which presently ferry 150 to 200 cruise pasengers at a time from the cruise ships to shore.

This, Matus argued, would improve the manatees’ chances of survival, since many of them have been injured or killed as a result of collisions with fast-moving boats or from cuts from a boat propeller.

He added that the concrete pylons which support the causeway eleven feet above the sea will be entirely benign to manatees and all marine life, since that part of the structure, which will be submerged, will serve as a base.

It is to serve like an artificial reef, for all forms of marine life and vegetation to grow upon, including the sort of vegetation upon which the manatee feeds, Matus said.

Galvez, however, was not convinced. He told Reporter that tenders do not currently traverse that area, so they have not been posing any consistent threat to the manatee population in the sanctuary.

Cruise Ships don’t ‘park’ near Swallow Caye, so there have been no need for those boats to be in that area. This project, however, could potentially bring traffic to that area,” Galvez explained.

He also pointed out that even the construction of the structure itself would disturb the very same “quiet and calm” that had attracted the docile mammal to the caye in the first place.

The action of driving piles into the seabed will create noise and sound travels much faster through the water than through the air. There’s no telling if the manatees will find the underwater noise levels intolerable during the months of construction, he said.

“The noise might cause the mammals to abandon Swallow Caye altogether,” Galvez suggested..

He also underscored the fact that it may pose a threat to the vegetation in the area, which the manatees use as food.

While it may not necessarily be in the immediate vecinity, Galvez also expressed concern about the proposed dredging that would be necessary for the cruise ships to be able to approach the port..

Galvez recalled that there are presently only about 1,000 West Indian manatees in Belize.

The proposed deep-water port for cruise ships at Stake Bank could earn Belize about $700 million per year, the Feinstein Group’s Mike Feinstein explained at a press conference last Wednesday.

The causeway is to stretch from the Stake Bank Port to the North Drowned Caye, where the developer proposes to build a US$89 million resort named Ocean Grand View.

At its closest point, the causeway passes a mile from Swallow Caye.

In the past, pioneer manatee conservationist Lionel “Chocolate” Heredia (R.I.P.), who founded Friends of Swallow Caye, had proposed that a pier be built outside the caye where tour boats might dock.

The tourists could then walk by an elevated walkway through the mangrove to points where they could observe the manatees without need for boats to enter the lagoon. The idea was scrapped when it was considered that the manatees might find the construction of such a jetty too disturbing.

Reef conservationists who have been battling the cause against offshore drilling for oil are equally concerned about the possibility of a fuel spill from the fuel barges which the Stake Bank port proposes to use to refuel cruise ships.

Mike Feinstein says there’s really no cause for alarm as the equipment the port would use would be to international standards, the same as is used to refuel the ships in Miami or anywhere else in the Caribbean.

He said the barges which will be used are double hulled, so even if the outer hull were to be pierced, the inner hull would still contain the fuel cargo against any possibility of a spill.

Similarly, the hose linking the barge to ship is very short, so even if the hose were to rupture, the most that would spill would be about 30 gallons of fuel.

Any project of this size requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which the 13-member National Environmental Assessment Committee (NEAC) reviewed in an all day meeting at the Belize Biltmore Plaza in Belize City last Tuesday, the day before the Feinstein Group announced the project.

Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria has been deafeningly silent on how close they are to granting approval. If NEAC approves the project’s EIA, NEAC would then draft an Environmental Compliance Plan, which the company would need to follow.

The Reporter

Re: Stake Bank Project Unveiled [Re: Marty] #472532
09/14/13 07:48 AM
09/14/13 07:48 AM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,460
Belize City
Katie Valk Offline

Katie Valk  Offline
Roque Matus M&M Engineering was given many of the contracts for the Belize City street paving, which flooded over the past few days. Devastating affect on manatees in the breeding grounds.

Belize based travel specialist
Re: Stake Bank Project Unveiled [Re: Marty] #473493
09/27/13 07:11 AM
09/27/13 07:11 AM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,460
Belize City
Katie Valk Offline

Katie Valk  Offline
There you go. Cruise ship tourism now trumps sane environmental and economic development. The end of the manatees as this is their prime breeding grounds.

Belize based travel specialist
Re: Stake Bank Project Unveiled [Re: Marty] #473519
09/27/13 01:56 PM
09/27/13 01:56 PM
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 6,031
San Pedro AC Belize
Diane Campbell Offline
Diane Campbell  Offline
madness. total. madness.

Re: Stake Bank Project Unveiled [Re: Diane Campbell] #473522
09/27/13 03:03 PM
09/27/13 03:03 PM
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 5
TravelBug1 Offline
TravelBug1  Offline
This is very sad indeed.

Re: Stake Bank Project Unveiled [Re: Marty] #473524
09/27/13 04:30 PM
09/27/13 04:30 PM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 914
San Antonio TX and Seine Bight...
ckocian Offline
ckocian  Offline
Belize's soul has been sold to the devil, himself!

Re: Stake Bank Project Unveiled [Re: Marty] #473704
09/30/13 01:44 PM
09/30/13 01:44 PM
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 3,280
Barbara K Offline
Barbara K  Offline

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