BSI bares plans for Phase 2 of integrated casino project

Says if hotel or resort impacted by land acquisition, they will hire affected employees

No site has been identified yet for the second phase of Best Sunshine International, Ltd.’s massive integrated resort project in the CNMI—even as their Phase 1 in Garapan has yet to be built—but some plans are already in the works and locations are being eyed.

According to Imperial Pacific chief services officer Tao Xing, they are actively looking at “different options” in terms of public lands.

“Most likely it will be a combination of public lands and private lands,” he said.

The site could be anywhere, Tao said, but they have a number of options that they are evaluating. If they do acquire a location where an existing facility is already built, he assured that they will hire the employees of that facility.

“Our goal is really to increase employment, so we have the commitment to hire everyone if there is any hotel impacted in the process,” Tao said.

“Our commitment is that we want to make sure that if there is any hotel or resort that will be impacted in the process of land acquisition, our commitment is to hire all the employees, make sure they have continuity in terms of employment,” he added.

However, BSI officials assured they would be constructing new buildings.

“The plan is going to be all new construction for Phase 2,” chief operating officer Matt Harkness said.

Both officials declined to answer when asked if Best Sunshine will be bidding for the property of Mariana Resort and Spa in Marpi once a request for proposal is issued. They also declined to say if they already acquired leases for some properties for Phase 2.

In September 2014, the Department of Public Lands offered Best Sunshine over 20 hectares of public lands south of Mariana Resort.

Mariana Resort, whose lease will expire in April 2018, sought a 25-year extension but received a letter from DPL which said that “at the end of the lease term the leased premises revert to DPL and all improvements become the property of DPL.”

DPL said it will be conducting a “global solicitation” for proposals for the public land upon expiration of existing leases and that this “will be the rule for any expiring leases with our government.” 

Best Sunshine said Phase 2 of their project will be “at least 10 times bigger” than Phase 1 and will feature thousands of rooms in about 20 hotels, multiple casinos, the world’s largest water park, and a kilometer-long shopping mall.

“Phase 1 is incredibly exciting, Phase 2 is even more so,” Harkness said. “It’s not just going to be hotel rooms. It’s going to be a very spectacular integrated resort that will draw people from all over the world.”

Harkness said this will open up thousands of jobs and will have a huge impact on the islands’ business and tourism.

He said that over $100 million in tax revenues would benefit the island.

Tao also cited the millions-worth community chest fund that will be released once they break ground for Phase 2.

“At the groundbreaking of Phase 2, within 60 days, we’re obligated as part of the license agreement to release a community chest fund of $20 million,” he said. “I think, as a community, we should all be looking forward to that because that’s a large fund to be released and will benefit the community.”

When asked for a timeline on when they plan to start Phase 2, Tao said, “As soon as possible.”

“As soon as we have the land, we will start,” he added.

No definite length of time was given as to the opening of Phase 2 once construction starts.

“A project that large will be opening in phases,” Harkness said.

Best Sunshine was recently approved by the CNMI Zoning Board to increase by about 50 percent the number of rooms for Phase 1 of their project.

“The ownership has very wisely determined that the increase in hotel rooms is beneficial to the islands and the business that Best Sunshine has,” Harkness said.

The Grand Mariana Casino & Hotel Resort at the former Samoan Housing area in Garapan, which is expected to open by the end of next year, will now have 373 rooms from the previous 254, increasing its height and decreasing the number of parking spaces. The investment will be up to $190 million from the prior $165 million.

Aside from beachfront villas, pools, and two casino floors, the hotel will also feature about 10 presidential suits, each with its own pool, according to Tao.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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