First step for planned resort

Tuesday September 04, 2018 Written by Published in Economy
The unit to the left in this photo of the old Sheraton building was originally set up to demonstrate how the derelict hotel could be renovated to modern standards. Merchant of Paradise developer Tim Tepaki says he was interested in tackling the site again, but has now set his sights on land at Titikaveka. 18090319 The unit to the left in this photo of the old Sheraton building was originally set up to demonstrate how the derelict hotel could be renovated to modern standards. Merchant of Paradise developer Tim Tepaki says he was interested in tackling the site again, but has now set his sights on land at Titikaveka. 18090319

Merchant of Paradise chairman Fred Webb says MOP and the owner of land earmarked for a proposed new Rarotonga resort have signed a memorandum of understanding.

 

Webb declined to name the landowner or to identify the land where the resort will be constructed, but CINews understands it is at Titikaveka. He said the way was now clear for Pa Enua landowners to sign their own memorandum of understanding for various components of MOP’s “Paradise Prosperity Plan” for the outer islands.

In a statement released on Sunday, Webb said it had been necessary for MOP to complete “scoping” of the resort to design stage and demonstrate the project’s viability to the landowner, and this process had delayed signing of the MOU until later than initially anticipated.

“But the upside is that budgeting for the development is now realistic, with much of the guesswork taken out of it.”

MOP says the planned resort will act as a “feeder” for a raft of other developments the organisation has planned for the outer islands under its Paradise Prosperity Plan (PPP).

Developer Tim Tepaki has previously said the ambitious plan, which includes a golf course on Atiu and a fishing centre on Penryhn, as well as a two-jet airline and a shipping service, will cost around $300 million, with funding provided by China.

Webb said the landowner was “over the moon” with the opportunity to participate in the MOP Paradise Prosperity Plan (PPP) to develop the Pa Enua and is happy to share the prosperity of development with community non-government organisations (NGO) Ui Ariki, the Religious Advisory Council, Vaine Tini, Pa Metua and sports and cultural bodies.

He also confirmed that the commercial structure and “prosperity share” in the resort would be the same as the planned Pa Enua developments, meaning the landowner would hold 67 per cent shares in the development and gift 5 per cent profit to each of six NGOs, retaining “only” 37 per cent profit.

The signing of the MOU on the Rarotonga feeder resort land also cleared the way for Tepaki to release details of the PPP “prosperity outcome”, Webb added.

He said this would be rolled out in stages to give people time to “digest” aspects of the plan, beginning with tourism and agriculture developments.

Both these developments would involve MOP as “virtual” developer only. The landowner and their Chinese joint venture partners would be the real developers, holding 67 per cent and 33 per cent shares respectively, Webb said.

“MOP will not hold shares in developments on the islands.”

He said Tepaki would follow the rollout of the PPP with “prosperity outcomes” for fishing, shipping and airline developments. A yet-to-be formed MOP Trust with all Cook Islanders as beneficiaries would hold the 67 per cent shares in these developments.

“MOP has received much global support for its project, now seen as correcting our ‘fake economy’ and helping our Pa Enua people, who have suffered economic vacancy in silence long enough,” said Webb.

The announcement of the signing of the MOU for the Titikaveka land follows the abandonment last month of MOP’s original plans to redevelop the old Sheraton site at Vaimaanga.

Webb claimed the landowner, Pa Ariki, had declined MOP’s offer of help to get the site developed.

Tepaki’s previous claims that he would build a resort on the Sheraton site, which he has unsuccessfully attempted to develop in the past, have been refuted by Pa Ariki, who has said that least three other parties are interested in tackling the project.

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