Developers Get OK To Revive Cooks Sheraton Resort Project

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Mirage Group can continue preparing Environmental Impact Assessment

By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 14, 2015) – Developers of the Sheraton hotel have finally given the green light to government that they are ready to revive the derelict Vaimaanga site.

National Environment Service (NES) advisory and compliance division manager Vavia Tangatataia says local lawyer Tony Manarangi who is acting on behalf of Mirage Group Limited has told NES they can continue with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project.

"The previous EIA under the name of Mirage Group Ltd and Herbert Constructions has now been referred back to Mirage Group Limited for revision purposes, to be resubmitted to NES," says Tangatataia.

Manarangi says as he has only recently been appointed as the lawyer for Mirage Group Limited, he is unable to comment on the details of the development, except that it is ‘proceeding’.

BTIB approval for Mirage Group Limited and Herbert Construction was granted in October 2013. Last year, Mirage Group Limited and Herbert Construction lodged a request for an EIA wanting approval to turn the site into a five-star resort.

But the EIA request lodged by the developers was put on hold after Herbert Construction pulled out of the project, said to be worth $40 million [US$30 million].

Once an EIA is completed, it must go through a public submission process before going to the Rarotonga Environment Authority which makes the final call on the project. A decision could take months.

Herbert Construction head Malcolm Herbert said in November that guests could be staying at the refurbished hotel by mid-2016.

Last year the developers said the finished resort would have 198 rooms, 16 apartments and 18 bure-style units.

Tim Arnold, lawyer for the site’s landowner Pa Marie Ariki, says his client supports the development as she wants the hotel running as soon as possible.

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