Calvin Ayre confirms he has not bought ‘Best Western’ site, contradicting gov’t claims

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The fate of a long-abandoned steel structure in Valley Road – once tipped to be a Best Western Premier hotel – hangs in the balance after Canadian billionaire Calvin Ayre confirmed he had not in fact bought the site.

A spokesperson for Ayre told Observer today that no such sale had ever taken place.

The news leaves the government with egg on its face after the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Lionel Hurst told local media repeatedly that Ayre had purchased the property which was now set to be completed and branded by a well-known North American hotel chain.

Hurst told Observer on February 28 that Ayre had bought both the land and the unfinished building and was already in negotiations with various high-end hotels.

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Hurst repeated those claims at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing a week later. His comments were also carried in a subsequent newscast by state media.

Meanwhile, the rusting hulk of steel continues to loom over neighbouring homes, infuriating local residents who say it’s a blight on the landscape and could have a detrimental effect on their property prices.

The area’s MP Kelvin Simon today called the structure an “eyesore and a health hazard” and said he had been contacted by numerous residents about it.

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Simon called on the government to take immediate action to ensure the building is either completed or demolished.

The Best Western Premier had been set to comprise 126 suites, a fitness centre, two pools, two restaurants and a cocktail bar. It was tipped to become the largest internationally branded hotel in Antigua.

Suites were to be sold from US$400k offering buyers the chance to apply for an Antigua and Barbuda passport.

Construction began in 2016 before grinding to a halt in 2019.

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