Stake Bank is a project that had as many twists and turns in its development as any Disney themed ride. The project was given parliamentary approval in 2014. The exclusivity issue for the Fort Street Tourism Village was an issue, but that had been resolved. Therefore in August, 2017, the Government signed “Definitive Agreement” with the Feinstein Group to build the Stake Bank Cruise Docking Facility. The developer Mike Feinstein had received financing from Atlantic Bank and a consortium of international investors for the world class facility with two docks that would accommodate 4 Voyager class vessels and feature an 80 room resort and a marina, a theme park with water rides, a roller coaster and aquarium spread over 17 acres. At the time a Government press release stated that at least 500 Belizeans would be employed by the investment which was then estimated at 50 Million US dollars. Fast-forward to today’s groundbreaking that featured bipartisan support that would make the ICJ Referendum jealous, the Stakebank groundbreaking ceremony had the attendance of former Minister of Finance Ralph Fonseca; Leader of the Opposition John Briceno; UDP Senator Aldo Salazar; Attorney General Mike Peyrefitte; Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber; Pup Cayo South’s Julius Espat; Minister of Trade and Investment Tracy Taegar Panton, and Caribbean Area Shores Representative Kareem Musa. Mike Feinstein said that by the time the project is completed, the cost would be up to 82 million US dollars.
Mike Feinstein: “The Bankers for this project is being led by the Atlantic Bank Group. The Atlantic Bank is the lead organizer for the money for this project which is $67 million US on the island for a total of about $82 million before this project is done. This again will be 95 percent Belizean and from here the tenuring has been reduced by 40 percent going over to North Round Caye in much calmer waters, in a much more stable scenario. The terminals will be there, parking for 200 buses. Nobody will be left out of that one. Inside the terminal we make space for everybody so again all Belizean so the proposals is to do a causeway from Belize City to North Ground which is two miles. The causeway from here to North ground I have a feeling that will not be necessary but I will have to do what I have to do but the tenuring will work just fine, now reduced by 40%.
Jose Sanchez: “So have you completed all the EIA’s, gotten approval from NEAC, did your consultation. Did you expect any issues with environmentalist or people concerned about the environment.
Mike Feinstein: “Well this one is a done deal. North ground has full environmental clearances, the Cabinet sub committee has approved it. We are working out a few technicalities on moving forward with that project but there is no hold up with this one.
John Allyn VP EDSA INC.: ‘We are Resort designers. We do destination Resort design all over the world. We have worked in six continents for over 50 years.
Jose Sanchez: “Okay so what do you expect to do in relation to State Bank?”
John Allyn VP EDSA INC.: “Well we want to create an experience that is unique and I have worked on projects in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and one thing that struck me from day one is that it is extremely unusual to find a place in Belize that offers everything. You have centuries of culture, you have history going back to the Mayans, natural beauty. Opportunities for all kinds of different things and you can find elements of those things all over the place but it is hard to find a place that has the potential for everything so I am very excited to find out what this can be. I think this project can become a gateway to the world, to the rest of Belize and to what Belzie has to offer but what we are trying to do is create a private pristine tranquil environment. Guests can get off the ship, they can spend the day in snorkel lagoon, they have opportunities to relax, to enjoy a water park. They can shop, dine and have fun and if go no further they can have an amazing time but the wonderful thing is you are literally minutes from the mainland. You’ve got everything that Belize has to offer there then you are literally minutes from offshore experiences, the best diving and fishing in the world so for guest experience that combination is phenomenal so I really think this project is going to be great for Belize.”
The project could be completed in two years.