Sunset Coves, Ltd. filed bankruptcy in September of 1996 for what they thought was a "reorganization", a chance to catch their breath and figure out how to deal with two large problems - a large debt owed to Rudy Gillett and possible liability over the political morass of the lots west of the high school.
The receiver in bankruptcy was Santiago Gomez of International Services, with offices at 35 Barrack Road in Belize City. A notice of a sale of the assets of Sunset Coves, Ltd. (185 acres) by the receiver was placed in the National Alliance, (the official organ of the political party the National Alliance for Belizean Rights) on December 3, 1997. The offering for sale included "...185 acres known as the "San Pablo" development... except all those lots, pieces or parcels of lands previously transferred by Sunset Coves, Ltd..." and "All that other property of Sunset Coves (in Receivership) Limited including but not limited to all receivables, claims and choses in action." The sale was scheduled to take place three days after - on the 6th of December. The sale came as a surprise for the directors of Sunset Coves, Ltd. - all former members of the People's United Party San Pedro Town Board in 1988.
The San Pedro Sun is unable to determine whether the entire 185 acres or a portion was sold on that date - however, it does appear that all the assets of Sunset Coves were sold, as explained by the following press release (which is dated the 6th of December but not sent out until the 17th of December.)
Although the press release indicates the project will be completed, there are major differences between the present ownership and the former Sunset Coves company. Western Caribbean Properties had four subscribers when it was originally set up - Hector Knight, Roy Cadle, Ray Yusi and Harry Pilgrim. Attorney for the transaction to set up Western Caribbean was Glenn Godfrey. The address of all parties was listed as 35 Barracks Road. (Please note that the original subscribers are not necessarily those in control of Western Caribbean today.)
San Pablo was originally set up to provide lots to locals at underwritten prices, with the filling of the land paid by higher prices charged for canal frontage lots. The canal lots were purchased in large part by "foreigners." The creation of San Pablo can be viewed retroactively as wildly successful. The original intent was for locals to own a buildable lot. In many cases, this has proved the case, with San Pablo growing at a steady pace. Most lots have not been built out, however, and instead have been treated as investments. It is not unusual for a lot sold for $300 Bz. in 1988 to sell in today's market for $10,000 US - or more.
Sunset Coves, Ltd. was a politically allied company with the ability to claim "for the good of the people", thus providing justification for the filling in of many acres of mangrove swamps. Whether a private developer will be able to "continue the project" seems to be questionable at this time. The filling of mangrove swamps is almost like wearing a fur coat - it is not popular in this internationally sensitized environmental era.
Here is a brief history of San Pablo/ Sunset Coves: San Pablo was originally designed to be created in phases. In 1989, Corry McDermott wrote about the project in the Fall issue of Belize Currents. He said, "Sunset Coves, Ltd. a local company owned by Belizeans and spearheaded by Belize City attorney Glenn Godfrey, arranged the purchase of 200 acres south of the airport and fronting in the lagoon. Town Planner Gustavo Bautista drew up a plot plan which provided for large residential lots, civic areas, commercial sites fronting on a series of deep. wide canals from the lagoon. Demand for lots was so great that a lottery was held to determine who would get which lots. Three houses are now being built and a Roman Catholic Church is being erected..." The first phase is what we see today, including Ambergris Stadium. Lots were sold in the first phase and promises of lots made for future phases. 300 lots were the total, with a little over 100 lots involved in the first phase.
In 1992 and 93, Ambergris Stadium was built, using funds from the sale of the 30 lots located west of the high school. The stadium grounds were filled in - at great expense. The problem with the sale of the lots at the high school was that title was held by Central Government. Following the national election in 1993, the new government refused to complete a proposed exchange of land (the stadium land for the lots) and leased out the lots to the very same people who had purchased them - and paid for them (with the exception of two purchasers who did not receive leases.) Sunset Coves, Ltd. filed suit against the Government of Belize. The suit is not yet resolved and is scheduled to resume this month.
In April of last year, Central Government filed a notice in the Belize Government Gazette that "preliminary surveys and other investigations" would be done of the stadium land with a view to taking the property as "required for a public use".
The San Pedro Sun asked Mr. Ray Yusi, three questions. Mr. Yusi replied as follows:
Mr. Yusi stated he would be out of the country until February 1st, and asked that people who have claims begin their documentation, no matter the form, so that they can make their claims expeditiously.
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