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Bahamas approves resort development financed by Woods, Els

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NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) _ Tiger Woods and Ernie Els gained approval Thursday from Bahamian officials for a luxury resort they're helping finance along with a group led by a British billionaire.

The $1.3 billion private residential community, planned for an exclusive corner of New Providence island, will include an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Els, Woods said in a statement. It will be called the Albany Golf & Beach Club.

``With Albany, I look forward to spending more time in the Bahamas and playing Ernie on our new golf course,'' Woods said. ``We plan to make Albany very special.''

The government and representatives of the Tavistock Group, a holding company managed by British billionaire and Bahamian resident Joseph Lewis, signed the deal on Thursday allowing construction to go forward after two years of negotiations and environmental impact studies.

Investors said construction of the resort, on 565 acres on the southwestern end of New Providence, was expected to begin immediately. It will include cottages, oceanfront homes, luxury apartments and a marina.

Lewis, who amassed a fortune through currency trading, paid $2.1 million at a charity auction in 2000 to play 18 holes with Woods in Florida. He lives in the gated community of Lyford Cay, not far from the new development.

The project is expected to create 1,600 jobs during construction and will provide more than 1,100 full-time jobs upon completion, Prime Minister Perry Christie said.

The resort is expected to open in fall 2008.
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