Best Sunshine International (Imperial Pacific) will place a bid for 160 hectares (about 400 acres) of public land in Marpi, Saipan including an area occupied by Kan Pacific’s Mariana Resort & Spa. Kan Pacific’s lease ends in April 2016. On November 20 the Department of Public Lands (DPL) put out requests for proposals on the Marpi land.
The public land comprises some 115,500 square meters on the west side of the main road; 109,003 sq m of vacant lot; 69,300 sq m, containing a miniature golf course and hotel; 49,500 sq m holding a race kart track; and 30,738 sq m with the resort’s main lobby, hotel rooms, cottages, villas and maintenance facility, along with a much bigger property on the main road’s east side including a pool, ball fields, golf course and clubhouse, a 30,000 sq m house and about a quarter million sq m of vacant land totaling 1.2 million square meters.
Best Sunshine operates a temporary casino in Garapan at the T Galleria and has two more phases of development planned on the island. Phase I will see the Grand Mariana Casino & Hotel Resort with The 370+ rooms on a four hectare site of the former Samoan Housing area. Phase I will be completed by end of 2016. Phase II, which is the subject of Best Sunshine’s bid for the Kan Pacific land will be located on the north or south end of Saipan and be 10 times bigger than Phase I with about 20 hotels, a 1km long shopping area and the world’s largest water park in addition to casinos.
The company is required to invest $2 billion and open at least 2,000 rooms as well as contribute $20 million annually to a community fund. $10 million has already been tendered to residents for utility vouchers.
Kan Pacific is not taking the action lightly and contend that no-one, including themselves are in a position to bid on the public land lease. According to Marianas Variety, copies of an amended 2003 lease agreement between the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) and Kan Pacific state that, “At least five years before the expiration of the lease extension term, the lessor shall inform the lessee whether it intends to initiate the transition of the management of the facilities to lessor.”
The lease reportedly states that within 90 days of such notice the parties are to enter into a transition and management plan to train U.S. citizens to assume management. Saipan is the largest of the CNMI and a United States Territory.
Kan Pacific lawyer Joseph Iacopino is quoted in local media as saying, “DPL was contractually obligated to give notice of intent,” Iacopino said. “However, such notice was not given, the deadline passed and, instead of giving such notice, DPL encouraged Kan Pacific to enter into subsequent lease with another 40-year term.”
On November 15 Kan Pacific held a rally to solicit public support for a lease extension. Hundreds of islanders attended the rally which was headed up by Kan Pacific founder Nauki Kitami, his nephew and Kan Pacific president Yoshihiro Takami, and the resort’s general manager, Gloria Cavanagh. The Saipan Tribune reports that Reps. Vinnie Sablan, and Tony Benavente, House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero, Power 99, Stanley Torres, Manny Borja, Rep. Ed Propst, former representative Andrew Salas, former governor Juan Babauta, and Hyatt Regency Saipan supporters were also in attendance.