“This, for me, is the million-dollar shot—and it’s our mission to keep most of them.”
This is what Alter City Group’s managing director Ken Lin told Tinian residents at a public hearing last week, showing them a scenic view of the Puntan Diablo cove where, in 12 years, the whole of their 150-hectare project will rise.
“We want to put Tinian on the map of the world to become the world’s tropical island destination,” Lin said at the hearing prior to the Division of Coastal Resources Management’s approval of Alter City’s major siting permit.
The Puntan Diablo cove, developed or not, is a wonder.
Varying hues of blue and aquamarine paint the sea beyond what the eyes can see. By the shoreline, the water is so clear that from above, you can see the schools of fish and corals, giving a mistaken impression that it is shallow waters. On the horizon sits Aguijan Island.
The cove is lined with beaches such as Barcinas Beach, Leprosarium Beach, and other pocket beaches where fine white sand carpets the shore. Beyond it are rows of trees and plants, providing green canopies. Rock formations dotted with plants, seemingly thrown randomly by a giant hand, decorate the water.
This is what Alter City saw as a potential for development. And even though they will “alter” and build a “city” on the island, they promise to retain its natural beauty.
“What we have strictly ordered our designers when we ordered them to design [is] not to touch the coastline as much as we can,” Lin said.
The Macau-based company’s chief executive officer, Edvon Sze, said they don’t have plans for marine activities and attractions just yet.
“As you can see we haven’t touched anything on the water. We want to preserve the beauty of this scenery, the water, the sea turtle, and things like that,” Sze said.
Alter City assured that these beaches will still be accessible to the public as is required of them.
Aside from not touching the coastline, Alter City also plans to protect the historic sites of the place. The property that is now under lease has a rich history and a number of historic sites, including a cave where a World War II canon hides, the leprosy sanitarium, cemetery, as well as a latte stone quarry.
During the public hearing last week, Alter City Group said that their approach toward cultural and historic sites is to respect and protect them.
The group said that known historic sites have been avoided and that they plan to create a cultural trail. They will also be building a museum and will be displaying historical finds at the lobby of their upcoming hotel to further promote the island’s culture.
Alter City even showed how their architectural plans for their hotel and casino resort project was inspired by various natural and cultural elements such as the plumeria flower, sea turtle, the taga and the taga house.
According to Sze, they spent lots of time planning different types of preservation because he believes that “this is the island where World War II ends and where peace begins.”
He believes their project is a matter of striking a balance between development and preservation.
“We want to take a balance while we’re doing something, constructing buildings here while on the other hand we’ll preserve the environment, the beautiful scenery of this island,” Sze said.