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Friday, April 11, 2008

What's Going On With Merricks?

It is almost a given that there will be costs and development overruns in any project of any size in Barbados, just look at how difficult a time Almond Resorts are currently having trying to open Almond Casuarina or the government in getting the Pierhead Redevelopment off the ground. The Merricks project at Palmetto Bay in St. Philip, however, is becoming a cause of concern particularly for those who have invested their hard earned money in it. In January and February last year the local media was reporting that nearly all of the apartments, etc., in this development were sold and that construction would be starting within days or weeks with a completion date targeting the 2009-2010 timeframe. To date nothing has started on the site except for the cutting of a road which was never paved and is now overgrown with weeds. Meanwhile, the Internet is full British real estate websites all aggressively trying to market the same apartments in the development which the public was told were already sold last year.

It begs the question - what is going on with Merricks? This is the question being asked on Internet chatrooms. It is the same question that was asked about the Sapphire Cove development in St. Lucia before armies of investors were banding themselves together to try to recover their money. Not that this sort of thing has not happened in Barbados before, but the size and scale of Merricks can give a small country like Barbados a bad name in a hurry. Do we really want potential investors worldwide associating the island with Ponzi schemes and other dubious practices? The latest sales push is to pressure people to invest now before they announce who the 5-star hotel/resort operator is going to be when prices will skyrocket another 20-30%. Which 5-star luxury hotel brand is lining up to ruin its reputation by associating its flag with such gimmickry?
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