Area residents who live near the site of the new St Regis Hotel in St George’s were put on notice that the New Year will ring in a lot of noise for three months, when Crisson Construction starts piling work in January.

In an update delivered in the House on Friday, Tourism Minister Jamahl Simmons told MPs that foundations are stet to be laid early next year.

“We are well beyond the shovels-in-the-ground phase. We are now seeing real-time activity and that’s just what we have committed to deliver,” he said.

“In the first weeks in the New Year, the very foundation of a once-forgotten land will be formed. Simultaneously the site will be thoroughly prepared for the next construction phases and that implies the ring-fencing of the site, the installation of facilities for the work force, offices for the technical teams, workshops and warehouses.”

Photo: Courtesy of St George’s MP Renee Ming

He also moved to reassure concerned residents that the public will have access to Gates Beach, as he pledged to keep the public up to date on work at the site.

“This development celebrates those things in clear ways, as it brings to Bermuda a renowned hotel brand, operated by a world leading hotel operator,” said the Minister.

“Through the investment in the bricks-and-motar projects and roadworks to the investment in our people by creating hundreds of jobs in multiple industries, we are poised to return Bermuda to the tourism apex – not just by creating jobs, but by enriching an industry and, in doing so, our island’s culture.”

Hotelco Bermuda Holdings, the developers, anticipate that the first phase of the development project would be completed by early 2021.

The first phase includes the new hotel, amenities, a casino and two condominium buildings.

The Minister noted that east end residents “have been holding out hope that some form of development would take place” for years, to revive St George’s with “much needed jobs at the new hotel – from entry level to management”.

“This development should also encourage existing businesses to prepare for the additional customers and offer opportunities for budding entrepreneurs,” he said.

On the technical side, since the last update, he said: “The developers have confirmed that there have been numerous soil tests, with excavation and road works well underway.

“To address and facilitate the first phases – and produce a lasting ‘roadworks’ product – Barry Road has undergone realignment, surface improvements and asphalting.”

He also commended GL Construction, a Bermudian company “engaged by the developers and contracted” on a “job well done”. “In addition to all of the roadworks the ‘Hotel Excavation and Fill’ process is well underway,” he added.

Crisson Construction crews will begin the ‘piling’ phase. “These piles will steady support for structures built on top of it. Once the piling has been completed, the foundation works for the hotel will proceed. The progress beyond this point will be very noticeable,” Mr Simmons said.

On the noise factor, he also issued a reminder for area residents “that the hammering of the piles does make a bit of noise”.

“Fortunately, there aren’t many residents in the direct vicinity of the piling area – but I would still like to prepare them for any added noise they may hear. The piling is expected to last for around three months.

As Minister, he reiterated that Gates Beach, commonly known as Fort St Catherine Beach, “will remain open and accessible to the public”.

“Let me be clear: This is a public beach. The developers are aware of this and supportive of its use by all. I want to ensure all, that this Government and the developers remain open to keep the St George’s residents and their constituency Members of Parliament apprised as the development progresses,” said Minister Simmons.

“Building a world-class tourism product is one of the reasons Bermuda became known for tourism. It was not just the developments of hotels, restaurants and golf courses – but a showcasing of our culture and our people,” he added.

In closing he said both he and the developers “remain in constant contact and are committed to progress.

“We are excited of the developments to date and extremely optimistic that we will see those professional renderings become a reality for Bermudians and visitors to enjoy.

Said Mr Simmons: “This Government is unwavering in its commitment to St George’s, her people and all of Bermuda.”