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MacLean still fighting waterfront deal

  • Michael MacLean

Developer Michael MacLean is still counting the cost of a deal to massively overhaul the Hamilton waterfront nearly five years on.

“The whole case has cost me close to $4 million,” Mr MacLean said in the wake of his protracted legal battle.

“All I can do now is continue to fight. I can still lobby politically with the people who know that what’s happening is wrong.”

The deal ended up before an arbitration panel after Mr MacLean lost his 262-year lease on roughly 20 acres of Bermuda’s choicest real estate.

Hamilton’s sweeping development, announced by then mayor Graeme Outerbridge in January 2013, was touted as “the dawn of a new Hamilton”, with Allied Development Partners, headed by Mr MacLean, chosen as the partner company.

The new One Bermuda Alliance administration swiftly objected to the agreement, with home affairs minister Michael Fahy protesting that the Government had been left in the dark.

Legislation was then approved in October 2013, which retroactively required any Corporation of Hamilton lease of more than 21 years to get parliamentary approval.

Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs recently said that the arbitration, which started in 2014, was terminated last month and that that the Government stood ready to “bring this issue involving the voiding of the waterfront lease to an end”.

Mr Brown added that the Progressive Labour Party administration was “fully mindful of the interests of those claiming redress for the cancellation of the leases and the public purse”.

Answers were not forthcoming last week when The Royal Gazette asked for details on how the dispute would be put to rest.

Meanwhile, Mr MacLean was adamant that no settlement had been proposed, saying he had “never been offered anything”.

He was convinced that the Government ultimately planned to “leverage the waterfront away from the Corporation”.

He said: “It will be exactly what I was going to do with it. The proposal I put forward was for a mixed-use development and an investment hub.

“The OBA took it from me and the PLP now has a free run at being able to take the waterfront.”

Mr MacLean noted the PLP’s intense criticism of the voiding of the lease had gone silent since the party triumphed in the General Election in July.

Mr MacLean said that he was now waiting on an explanatory document from Ian Kawaley, the Chief Justice, outlining his reasoning on wrapping up arbitration.

The Government’s case, as outlined in the House of Assembly, was that Mr MacLean had failed to participate after his claim for $156 million in compensation was turned away, and his constitutional challenge against the arbitration also failed.

Last week, the developer said he planned a new constitutional challenge once Mr Justice Kawaley’s documents were released.

“The only way for me now is to find a lawyer and an advocate that can take my case,” he said.