Plans ahead for rusting eyesore long angering local residents

The steel shell looms over the homes of nearby residents who say it is a blight on the community (Photo by Observer media)
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It was tipped to be one of the country’s most exciting new developments – adding some welcome accommodation to the more affordable end of the tourism market, and dollars to the Citizenship by Investment unit.

Five years later, the rusting hulk of steel in Valley Road that was intended to be a Best Western Premier hotel remains partially built, looming over neighbouring homes and infuriating local residents who say it’s an eyesore and could have a detrimental effect on their property prices.

Work had been intermittent since construction began some years ago before halting entirely in 2019.

And – rather than the holidaymakers who had been set to frequent its smart surrounds – the structure is today home only to a handful of stray dogs using its five-storey frame as shelter from the elements.

The hotel was set to be a 126-suite Best Western Premier with a fitness centre, two pools, two restaurants and a cocktail bar

However, that could soon change.

The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Lionel Hurst told Observer that Canadian billionaire investor and local resident Calvin Ayre has expressed an interest in buying the property.

Ayre had previously discussed with government buying the former Jolly Beach Resort and transforming it into a high end hotel.

Those plans fell through after government decided plush low density accommodation was needed less than cheaper rooms which would help fill the “back end of the plane”.

“The Best Western was going to be a private-public venture between government and two private parties,” Hurst told Observer.

“That is no longer going to happen.

“Calvin Ayre is interested in going ahead on his own to do a hotel. It probably won’t be a Best Western,” he added.

The structure’s overhaul cannot come soon enough for some nearby residents.

Several told Observer that the bare shell was a blight on the area and diminished the island’s beauty.

The Best Western Premier had been set to comprise 126 suites, a fitness centre, two pools, two restaurants and a cocktail bar within what was said to soon be 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.

Observer did reach out to Calvin Ayre’s team for further clarification who said they were unable to comment.

Private businessmen involved in the Best Western venture also declined to comment.

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