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PM clarifies Sheraton redevelopment endorsement

Monday 16 May 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Business, National

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PM clarifies Sheraton redevelopment  endorsement
Part of the abandoned old Sheraton complex which is undergoing a major redevelopment led by local businessman. Photo: Supplied/2205040

Prime Minister Mark Brown says he endorsed the Vaima’amga redevelopment located at the abandoned Sheraton site because he was “thrilled” the project was finally going to be completed after sitting idle for 30 years.

Brown has told Cook Islands News no taxpayer money is going to be spent on the redevelopment.

Cook Islands News asked if it was normal for the Prime Minister to endorse private sector operations.

“As the Minister responsible for the economy, of course I believe it is normal to support private sector initiatives that add value to our economy,” Brown said last week.

“Both Pa Ariki and the local developers met with me as a courtesy to advise of this major development taking place at the old site. To me this is great news and I am happy to advise our people of what is taking place.”

The newspaper was notified of the Prime Ministers “official endorsement” through a press release from the Office of the Prime Minister on April 29.

Located on the site of the old Sheraton complex, the development will be led by local businessman Chris Vaile, managing director of Radun Limited, a new partnership formed with landowner Pa Ariki.

Their concept for the site envisions a sustainable, mixed-use, village-style development that will include residential, short-stay and tourist accommodation, recreational facilities, local stores and markets, eateries and other ancillary services.

The development also proposes the creation of an ecosystem that will support and enable a self-sustainable and environmentally friendly operation when complete, the Office of the Prime Minister said in an earlier statement.

“In addition, one controversial element of the original resort design – a network of inland, salt-water lagoons – has also been significantly altered. In place of lagoon-pumped salt water, the lagoons will instead be fresh water, constantly circulated as part of the pumped hydro installation.”

The National Environment Service confirmed an anonymous complaint about storm water runoff on either end of the abandoned Sheraton hotel over a week ago.

National Environment Service (NES) director, Halatoa Fua said NES was going to undertake further investigation into the storm water runoff.

“Following the notice sent to all operators, NES will be increasing its monitoring work in these respective areas,” Fua said.

He said NES was liaising with the developers on the environmental impact of the maintenance work on the Sheraton site.