Property owner reportedly seeks land swap with Gov’t; but sources say building in question is already collateral for loan

A businessman reportedly is attempting to acquire beachfront property by means of a land swap with the Government.

In this regard, the Cabinet Notes say, the Executive invited the owner of a property in St. John’s, as well as a Crown counsel from the Ministry of Legal Affairs, to join this week’s meeting.

The Notes allege that the former CIBC building, located at the corner of High Street and Corn Alley, was owned by the businessman and had been rented by the former Administration.  The report says the structure was gutted but never used. 

It is further alleged that, in 2014, due to unpaid taxes and other unmet obligations, the Browne Administration entered into an agreement to acquire the building.

The Cabinet Notes claim that the owner reneged on that agreement and has now returned to the Cabinet with a different proposal: to exchange land that he owns elsewhere for Crown land with an ocean front. 

According to the Executive, a decision on the old building has been put off for one week.

Sources tell REAL News that the old CIBC property was owned by a family with the surname Gore; and, reportedly, there is unoccupied land east of that building.

It is not known whether it is this plot that the businessman reportedly wishes to swap.

What is known, however, is that the former bank building is not only now owned by the Government, but it was listed among other assets as collateral for a huge loan the Administration received from the Antigua Commercial Bank in 2021.

Therefore, the sources say, they cannot imagine what decision on the building the Executive has delayed until next week.  

“There appears to be something the Cabinet is keeping from the public,” a banker tells REAL News.