Gibraltar Properties - Costa Del Sol Properties - Costa De La Luz Properties - Morocco Properties - Portugal Properties 2nd September 2014 
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123 Property News speaks to Gregory Butcher, the man behind Ocean Village

Gibraltar’s skyline is being transformed thanks to the continuing construction of Ocean Village, an iconic luxury residential and commercial development on Gibraltar’s western waterfront. The main building, Royal Ocean Plaza, has now reached its full height and is being swiftly finished and fitted out, on schedule for its fortunate residents to be moving in by early next year. The ground is already being cleared for the second phase of Ocean Village; this will consist of two 17- storey buildings, the residents of which will also have access to Ocean Village’s extensive leisure area, home to seven swimming pools, five Jacuzzis, extensive green areas and other attractions. The buildings in the second phase are being built to the same very high specifications as those in the first phase, with floor to ceiling windows, spacious terraces and luxury fittings.

And now Ocean Village Investments Ltd. has announced another impressive project – the company is to take over Marina Bay, home of Gibraltar’s first integrated luxury homes and marina complex, which was built during the 1980s. 123 Property News spoke to Gregory Butcher, the company’s Chairman, to find out about what had brought this dynamic businessman to Gibraltar and his plans for the future of his company’s investment in this area.

Gregory started out as a young entrepreneur while still at school. Anticipating the popularity of discos in the wake of blockbuster films such as Saturday Night Fever and Grease, he had the foresight to block-book municipal halls in his home town of Kingston upon Thames and other nearby towns such as Richmond and Surbiton, as well as contracting popular DJs from London’s Capital Radio, running successful promotions while he finished his education at Kingston upon Thames University. His next business venture was inspired by his decision to become a vegetarian and involved manufacturing vitamins, supplements and health food products that are free of animal products. The business expanded in the early 1990s, when, with the help of a grant from the Welsh Development Agency, he opened a larger factory in Swansea; the building included a green roof and numerous environmentally advanced features. Soon, the factory also branched out into the Montagne Jeunesse natural beauty products, which can now be found in 72 different countries worldwide, gaining global brand leadership in 2004. In the mid- 1990s, with the Welsh factory and its foreign subsidiaries running smoothly, Gregory looked round for other investment possibilities, finally settling on property investment and development in southern England.

This led eventually to a total of 248 separate projects, both residential and commercial. The stage was now set for Gregory to look further afield, and he finally settled on Gibraltar as a place that had a great number of possibilities, coupled with a highly educated population with a unique can-do attitude to problem solving. Gibraltar Government was also extremely supportive of his investment plans for waterfront regeneration and improvement.

Gregory sees the adjacent sea as one of Gibraltar’s greatest assets - he describes it as ‘Gibraltar’s Valderrama’, a reference to the world-class golf course in nearby Spain that has helped attract numerous visitors to the Costa del Sol. He began to make plans that would see the sea play a major part in his future projects.

After Gregory and his team had completed a few small scale renovation and building projects in Gibraltar, the Ocean Village development was announced, a breath-taking residential and commercial building project that would also see the incorporation of a state of the art marina for the use of Ocean Village’s residents and visitors. However, Gregory’s vision did not stop there - he dreamed of an integrated development taking in the whole area of water front between Gibraltar’s Waterport and the runway of the nearby Gibraltar Airport, creating a top marina with the latest facilities for both visiting mariners and residents of and visitors to the area. And, with the announcement last month that Ocean Village Investments is to take over the assets of the adjacent Marina Bay Complex Ltd, Gregory’s dream looks marina will merge with the new Ocean Village marina, to create a unified facility that will be able to compete with the best that the Mediterranean has to offer. The whole area will undergo a facelift, from the Watergardens residential complex bordering Ocean Village on the south, to the northern end of Marina Bay, with coordinated street furniture, lighting and paving, and plants, plants, plants! If plans are approved, Ocean Village’s promised 11,000 plants will be joined by an identical number that will be used to enhance the surrounding areas. However, Gregory’s most exciting plans involve the development of the marina area. He hopes to create a marina that will rival the best that the nearby upmarket resort marinas of Sotogrande, Puerto Banus and Duquesa can offer, and provide a venue that will be attractive for organisers of international boat races and rallies.

There has been strong growth in visitor numbers recently in nearby Mediterranean marinas, but over the last few years boat visits to the Rock’s marinas have declined in number, a phenomenon that has been exacerbated by the number of boats that have taken up long-term occupancy of the marina berths available in Gibraltar, meaning that the berthing spaces are full and therefore there is little or no space for visitors. Marina hopping, a popular pastime for yacht owners stationed in nearby Spanish marinas, was not possible in Gibraltar due to the lack of berths, leading to a substantial 19% decline between 2004 and 2005 in the number of boats visiting Gibraltar. Gregory has a number of plans for the integrated marina that should change all this, most notably the introduction of ‘free berthing’, whereby visiting mariners will be able to come to Gibraltar without notice and berth their boats for up to 8 hours, or even overnight, without charge. During this time they can refuel their boat at a substantial saving, visit the local shops, including those in Marina Bay and the Ocean Village complex, eat in local restaurants, and visit other businesses in Gibraltar, something that should help the rest of the Rock’s economy as well, not just that section of it based adjacent to the marina. With great improvements planned for the fabric of the marina, including greatly improved facilities for visiting mariners, and a s u fficient mass of berths, Gregory hopes to attract international yacht and boat races to use Gibraltar as a base for competitions and races, and helping the Rock to achieve the status of a world class resort. As a first fruit of Ocean Village's purchase of the Marina Bay complex, the company is sponsoring the Fifth Gibraltar- Morocco Yacht Rally, which is to take place over the first weekend of June. While many of the rally's participants are based in Gibraltar, an increasing number based on the Costa del Sol are also taking part in this sociable event, and Ocean Village's sponsorship will undoubtedly enable the rally to attract greater numbers in the years to come.

And what next for Gregory Butcher and Ocean Village Investments, after he completes the Ocean Village projects and the planned improvements in Marina Bay? Although he refused to be drawn on specific plans, Gregory, soon to be a resident of Gibraltar along with his family (he is a buyer at Ocean Village and will be moving there), remains enthusiastic about Gibraltar’s future. He is sure that the opening of Ocean Village and its commercial outlets will give a strong boost to the local economy, creating a residential and commercial ambiance that will rival anything available on the other side of the border and helping to enhance employment opportunities for both local residents and cross-border workers. He sees Gibraltar continuing to improve, both in the business sense and visually, with the attractive landscaping of the Ocean Village and Marina Bay complex providing an impetus for much more beautification in both public and private areas. 123 Property News congratulates Gregory on what he has achieved in Gibraltar thus far, and we eagerly await news of his future plans.

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