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Coalition proposes $23m Lighthouse Point development

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

A COALITION of environmental organisations and local developers have proposed a phased development for the highly sought after Lighthouse Point property valued at more than $23 million.

The alliance, which is comprised of the Bahamas National Trust, Leon Levy Foundation, One Eleuthera Foundation, The Island School, Cape Eleuthera Institute and several other local organisations described as having "deep and enduring commitments to the Eleuthera community," made its pitch to officials from the Office of the Prime Minister on Friday.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis did not attend the meeting, according to a representative for the coalition.

Nonetheless, the group's 42-page proposal centred on establishing a Lighthouse Point National Park on the multi-acre peninsula.

The national park seeks to preserve the site's natural and cultural assets, according to the coalition's proposal.

The park would feature 800-acres of preserved natural environment; an extensive trail system with boardwalks and interpretive signage; a visitor centre; viewing platforms and towers; improved access roads and sustainable infrastructure; a weather station; marine conservation and environmental education programmes and an extensive marine protected area.

Additionally, the group has proposed constructing a sustainable development which will include a 100-unit eco-lodge and a learning and research centre with space to accommodate a 20-person class on a 100-acre site adjacent to the national park.

The proposal also noted the project is designed to stimulate and facilitate economic opportunity in the surrounding communities by attracting internationally-recognised, best-in-class eco-tourism brands as anchors to provide the stable economic underpinning upon which local entrepreneurship could operate.

The coalition claims the project should yield permanent economic contributions of 190 jobs, $7.7m in annual earnings, $13.76m in economic output annually, $11.56m in annual GDP increase and $300,000 in annual NIB payments.

This, the coalition says, would be in addition to one-time economic contributions of 166 persons per year for construction, $11.25m in earnings, $16.9m in economic output, $14.3 one-time GDP increase and $438,000 in NIB payments; over two years of construction.

Over the last decade, One Eleuthera had pitched a previous proposal to local organisations and successive governments, hoping to secure funding and support for its initial bid to acquire Lighthouse Point.

The major difference in what was presented Friday and that initial proposal, comes in the clarification of the organisation's funding.

One Eleuthera has, in the past, been reluctant to disclose its sources of financing, an issue that has led many residents in Eleuthera to speculate that the foundation was being funded by donors positioning themselves to acquire the property for their own self-interests.

However, the proposal put forward on Friday included letters of "financial capability" submitted by the Leon Levy Foundation trustee Shelby White and One Eleuthera's president and chair, Lane Glaze - a combination which has raised and invested in excess of $16m in Eleuthera, according to the proposal.

Additionally, signed and dated letters of interest and support were included from the Little Island Group's owner and CEO, Ben Simmons; the Holowesko Partners, Mark and Lauren Holowesko; and the Bahamas Boutique Hotels Group Limited chairman, Peter Andrews.

The proposal also featured a phase-cost breakdown for the $23m development and the prerequisite land acquisition cost.

The first and second phases of the development - pre development and initial national park improvements and an expanded visitor centre and national park amenities, respectively - a $7m value, would be covered by the coalition.

Phase three, the construction of the eco-tourism resort and supportive amenities, estimated at $10m plus in the proposal, would be covered by unnamed development partners.

Lastly, phase four, the research, education and training facility, estimated at $6m, would be covered by the coalition and various grants.

The coalition also would cover land acquisition costs.

The group's 42-page pitch also noted that the development would be constructed and laid out over three to five years.

The proposal further noted: "Local job creation will occur promptly upon site acquisition as we undertake the labour-intensive process of site work and stewardship on hundreds of acres of National Park grounds."

It added: "Through intentional partnerships with individuals and organisations who share a common vision, Lighthouse Point will become a model for preservation, sustainable development, and workforce training that leaves no one behind.

"This proposal is locally driven and harnesses international partnerships to support the creation of a world-class eco-tourism resort destination that protects and celebrates the unique history of the area and its people."

Supporters of the coalition have sought to block Disney’s acquisition of Lighthouse Point, claiming the cruise line's plan would be unsustainable and hazardous to Eleuthera's eco-system.

The cruise company has taken preparatory steps to acquire the historic site for the construction of multi-million-dollar cruise port, promising a $400m spend.

Dr Minnis is expected to make a final decision on the project on Tuesday.

Comments

TalRussell 5 years, 4 months ago

The rude absence prime minister from Friday's proposal at PMO, should send clear message even his supporters about the brushing off contempt for anythings any comrade local have say - be it about Lighthouse Point or anything else. Further toleration is boiling over and be hard believe that members of his own appointed Imperial red shirts cabinet - could possibly think their jobs are too prestigious to risk being taken away by this PM. God Save Da Queen. God Save Her Excellency Marguerite.

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DDK 5 years, 4 months ago

You are being too polite to the PM. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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becks 5 years, 4 months ago

They were wasting their time, the decision has been made, adisney is getting the go-ahead.

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scampi75 5 years, 4 months ago

I tend to agree the decision has already been made by the sheer arrogance of the PM not to attend the meeting. However, I would hope he could see the passion of our people and the lengths they go to, to try and preserve this location for Bahamians for generations to come.
When Disney takes it over, our own people will not be welcome there. This is such a sad state of affairs and speaks volumes for the environmental interests the Government does (not) have. Mr. Prime Minister, PLEASE, at least humour this proposal!

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Clamshell 5 years, 4 months ago

Becks is right. It’s a done deal. And those here who view everything through a political lens should note that PLP stalwart Tommy Sands, whose family operates the largest business enterprise in South Eleuthera, has weighed in on the side of the Disney effort, alongside the FNM efforts of Dr. Minnis and MP Hank Johnson, the FNM who reps Central and South Eleuthera. If both parties’ kingpins are backing it, then it’s a done deal.

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Porcupine 5 years, 4 months ago

Clamshell, I appreciate your insights. Hard to swallow, but equally hard to argue.

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OldFort2012 5 years, 4 months ago

Their proposal is valued at $23m.

Between them, they have enough money in the bank to buy a pizza.

Guess who they want to pony up the $23m? Yup, you and me.

"Environmentalist" seems to be the new synonym for leech.

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Clamshell 5 years, 4 months ago

I respectfully disagree ... the Leon Levy Foundation has serious money and has invested heavily in Central Eleuthera, as anybody who has had the pleasure of visiting the Leon Levy Preserve would note. It has been a wonderful addition to the island, and they hire locals. The question is how much they’d be willing to pony up at Lighthouse Point. The other organizations you mention may be all wind and no $$, but not so with the Levy group.

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OldFort2012 5 years, 4 months ago

I am sure the Levy Foundation has lots of money. Q. is, how much would they want to spend on buying a piece of land and competing with Disney? As we all know, the price of a property with planning permission and one without are 2 completely different things. I am sure that the owners have done a deal with Disney to sell it for far more if planning suiting Disney's needs is granted. If it is not, the property has very marginal value. Would Levy or anyone else pay the same price for the property as Disney with planning? Obviously not by a factor of probably x20.

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Clamshell 5 years, 4 months ago

Uh ... yes, if you read my comment, I said it was unknown if Levy would pay the full freight to purchase this land. It pays to read before posting. Earlier, you said Levy et all did not have enough $$ to buy a pizza ... then you admit they have serious $$ behind them. Hah, you gettin’ dizzy much from all dat spinnin’?

Regardless, if you think that property is of “marginal value,” even without an active plan approval, bro, I’d like a hit off whatever you’re smoking.

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momoyama 5 years, 4 months ago

So I guess you have access to their bank accounts? Do you know than among "them" is Mark Holowesko?

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Porcupine 5 years, 4 months ago

Who are "you and me? Please don't include me, in your "me". I would love to see The Bahamas actually get on board with the environmentalists taking note of the damage being done to our children's environment. We, for our history, seem not to give a fuc. Your post seems to suggest you can eat money. The true results of a stupendous education. It is a matter of priorities. Thanks for showing me yours. "Leech" is actually what we are doing by leaving the "externalities" for our kids to deal with. They are real costs to doing business. We simply ignored them, pretending they weren't really costs. Oh right, they weren't costs to us. Let the next guy deal with it. Responsible economics some call it. You and Trump and Minnis have much in common.

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screwedbahamian 5 years, 4 months ago

Seem to me that maybe with some of the named executives involved, the unnamed partners may just be the web shop boys. Knowing that a deep pocket investor is interested in a project there, and a huge profit maybe made in the future if lets say the proposed project were to run out of funds. I too would like to see our Bahamian brothers and sister shape the economic growth of our Bahamas and less dependent on foreign Investors, but lets be open and transparent for Real sustainable Bahamian Investments.

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 4 months ago

The One Eleuthera group is good. Just not IMO nearly as great as Disney. Disney could change the entire Eleuthera economy and would be considered an anchor project. One Eleuthera apparently has been struggling along for years. The obvious, logical choice is Disney, provided the beach and amenities are accessible to all Bahamians and a certain amount of well paying jobs are guaranteed to Eleutherans, year round.

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becks 5 years, 4 months ago

Except the beach and the ameneties won’t won’t be available to all Bahamians. As for a certain number of well paying jobs guaranteed to Eleutherans,year round??? Disney will promise that until a year after the facility is opened....then a few menial jobs is it.

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 4 months ago

I find it suspicious that everyone is so hell bent on Light House Point. Eleuthera has thousand of acres that are free to build on -- the island is basically uninhabited. Why fight over one tract of land? Further, when Disney is involved, there's often people trying to get a cut of the action. This is unavoidable and why Disney usually negotiates property deals in secret without disclosing their names to Vendors. They probably have a signed agreement to buy the property for 20 million. The property is probably now worth 40 million, just because Disney is involved and wants it.

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SP 5 years, 4 months ago

Claiming Disney’s acquisition and development plan of Lighthouse Point would be unsustainable and hazardous to Eleuthera's eco-system is a bit far-fetched.

However, we do not need Disney or any other foreign entity owning 100% of a resort development in our country. The Chinese have way too much of a foothold already.

Disney and any other tourism related foreign developers should be made to partner with a Bahamian group and/or steered to Freeport where the infrastructure already exists to support major developments.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 4 months ago

The PM didn't attend the meeting?? Wow so that's people over 35, anyone who didn't support the purchase of the grand Lucayan and any Bahamian investor. Find someone else to vote for Minnis don't have time for you.

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truetruebahamian 5 years, 4 months ago

The P.M.has batted his third strike. His acolyte, Hank has ostensibly profited and says _there are many beaches in Eleuthera, nothing wrong with letting this one go to Disney. Obviously paid off and eager for more.and obfuscating the most important points. Disney lies, confuses, profits and leaves tremendous wrecked lives and properties.

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truetruebahamian 5 years, 4 months ago

I will be joining One Eleuthera, being a native of and resident of Eleuthera to counter with every strength available to throw out the P.M.,Hank and Disney.

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 4 months ago

Re: Truetruebahamian I'll be honest, I'm at a total loss where all this angst is coming from. Have you ever been to South Eleuthera???? The place is a ghost town. I hardly saw a single person during my time driving around. Would you be angry at Sol Kerzner's Atlantis? Everyone agrees that the Chinese must go, but Disney?

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momoyama 5 years, 4 months ago

Correction: "Everyone STUPID agrees that the Chinese must go."

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 4 months ago

ReMomoyama I would clarify that I did not mean the Chinese people as a race, but companies owned by the Chinese Government and not private persons. I have a huge problem with another country operating businesses in our Country, because then there are issues of sovereignty, espionage, corruption, interference with elections etc. I have no problem whatsoever with Chinese individuals privately operating and running businesses in The Bahamas, so long as the Chinese Government is not interfering with same. I would hold this same standard with any country, not just China. I would not like the French or Italian Government to own our tourist industry either. Though, China, being communist, is even more dangerous and deleterious in my opinion.

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TalRussell 5 years, 4 months ago

I could be mistaken but doubtful Disneyland and Disney Cruises are anything more than than a cruise ship company - entering into license agreement with comrades Mickey Mouse and his cousins of characters. They ain't the real Mickey Mouse.

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DDK 5 years, 4 months ago

How wise, Comrade, you may be right! Not that it matters to cruise ship decimation of the seas and lands they traverse and visit. Too bad a much smaller Viking sort of cruise line did not jump in first.

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TalRussell 5 years, 4 months ago

Ma Comrade DDK, I get it that Disney Cruise Line is a cruise line operation that is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company..... but still operates under separate corporate entity...... and I have no issue with the excellent Disney reputation as long doesn't be asking for us sign over a single beach to be used exclusivity cruise passengers. What we don't need more of anywhere on colony of islands are foreigner nor native projects billed as too damn big allow fail.

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Porcupine 5 years, 4 months ago

Tal, The real Mickey Mouse is our PM Minnis. The rest of the cast is up for grabs, but seems most of them are vying for Donald Duck and Pluto.

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Porcupine 5 years, 4 months ago

I am astounded that there is little to no discussion of what the dredging of a massive harbour, the building of a pier and the comings and goings of a ship this size will have on the local environment. It as if all of the commenters here spend your lives inside writing, instead of seeing and understanding what is proposed here. Are we all so money struck that that's all we think about? And the sordid state of our politics and short-sighted vision-less politicians we have. We are currently in the Sixth Great Extinction. Look it up if you seriously don't know what we are talking about here. You would think that among educated people this would weigh heavily in the discussion. What should be clear to our people and our Prime Minister, thought it is apparently lost in their thought process, is that we do not have the right, just because we are all in agreement, to despoil, degrade and destroy that which was put here for the benefit and enjoyment of all. The cry for jobs, jobs, jobs is another story about our failures as a country and and the great need for education of both our people and our population. The "gimmee a job attitude" has left us in the position where we are now. The begging of foreigners to come in with their money to do what we failed to have the vision to do. As well, the Bahamas National Trust must be revamped. It is morphing into a fundraising political organization that has little to no accountability to the people. As if they are just a clearinghouse for those who want to do business in The Bahamas with a "green" label, but only profit driven. I am in favor of this new proposal, yet am very skeptical of all players involved due to our past history of how things get done here, and for what reasons. The BNT continues to cry about lack of funding to explain their abject failure in actually defending our natural resources. Yes, it is up to the taxpayer to set aside and manage our natural resources. The government refuses to do so. Why? Because we continue to run this country as if it is a rummage sale going to the highest bidder. Because we are broke, and so few who had the capability to make change actually did so. They joined the pirate club. That's where we are today. No money for our hospital. No money for a decent education system. No money to keep the lights on. No money for anything but to beg others to come here and do what we should have done many years ago. Quit the legacy of The Bahamas being a corrupt, pirate state. If you read the papers even poorly you understand that this mendacity, hypocrisy, endemic dishonesty and moral vacuum is a national problem, not confined to the politicians, lawyers and web shop owners. We are, and have been a country for sale.

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DDK 5 years, 4 months ago

Very good commentary Prickly One, loaded with valid points, as usual. The sad truth is, like Big Oil and Big Pharma, neither our Government nor the Mouse Cruise Line gives a good squeak how much of the environment or how many lives they ruin on the way to overfilling their Big Piggy Banks.

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 4 months ago

Re Porcupine Very well written piece. Excellent. You have many valid arguments.

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Porcupine 5 years, 4 months ago

BahamaPundit, After reading these posts, I appreciate your compliments especially, since I see that we are of differing opinions on this matter. I have witnessed first hand the unacceptable damage done to the environment and the economies of the places where cruise ships go. Like the anchor projects, cruise ships offer the opportunity for a few well-positioned people to get a cut, but rarely do these entities provide the sustainable benefits to the people and places that they impact.

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Soapstop 5 years, 4 months ago

What I have a hard time believing is that the government doesn’t abide by their own counsel. Both D’Aguilar and Minnis have stated that the cruise ship model of tourism does not work and is not the model that needs support. Minnis just stated that a change is needed from old models 2 weeks ago at the State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC). D’Aguilar’s own department says that 75% of tourists see the Bahamas on the deck of a cruise ship, but only account for around 10% of the spend. 25 % of the tourists are stayover (heads in beds) ones that account for 90% of the tourism spend. And then there’s the whole rebate policy the government signed that has the Bahamian taxpayer pay the Cruise ship companies a rebate on the departure tax. Turns out government is in arrears to the cruise ship companies for nearly 18 million. Yet this is the model that the government wants to endorse?

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DDK 5 years, 4 months ago

They just lie and pay lip service to the electorate.

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Soapstop 5 years, 4 months ago

Oh and let’s take a look at Disney’s track record in the Bahamas, what they really think of Bahamians. We have but to look no further than Castaway Cay, Disney’s private cruise port in the Abacos. 160 full time jobs. 55 of those are Bahamian. One manager of one department is Bahamian. All the rest, foreigners. No Bahamians in skilled positions or in the trades. Not one. No Bahamian electricians, no Bahamian plumbers, no Bahamian carpenters. No Bahamian future. My source, in case you want to refute my facts: a man who just left there who worked for 10 years for Disney. He woke up one day after being passed over for promotion time after time. He was even forced to train new people to be his boss. Yeah, Disney loves Bahamians alright.

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 4 months ago

ReSoapstop Cruiseship tourists are here to stay. The legitimate question is how do we provide these tourist good value for money or at least make the cruiships pay huge entry fees to make it worth our while. Any intelligent country would find ways to make millions from these cruiseship. One idea would require the cruiseships pay a percentage of anual profits to the Government.

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TalRussell 5 years, 4 months ago

Imagine going back 1967 had this and all previous comrade administrations invested into our building and operating we own cruise ships?
So little, if any, credit has ever been given for revolutionising overnight with the parachuting Bahamalanders into Hotel Management positions when Pindling stepped-forward save West Bay Street as Hotel Strip under Bahamaland Hotel Corporation. Had we invested in cruise ships way back day we would in 2018 be flying Bahamaland's flag as we sailed the open seas as Cruise Barron's the world's largest fleet cruise liners.
Like Sir Stafford is owed credit giving birth we tourism baby - so should Comrade Pindling, for saving West Bay Street's hotel strip.

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DillyTree 5 years, 4 months ago

TalRussell, you have a very short and very defective memory -- the so-called "We Hotel" was a fiasco! And the BHC became the vehicle for one of the most corrupt government entities around. It was the personal piggy bank of so many, and certainly not for the Bahamian people!

Pindling and his crooks couldn't manage a damn hotel on dry land, surely you don't think they'd be able to steer a cruise ship in a straight line! Crooked, maybe, but not straight!

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 4 months ago

LOL Tribune used the wrong image for those against Disney. That sun of a gun Lighthouse Point looks like God designed it to be a cruiseship port. God even started building a dock.

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TalRussell 5 years, 4 months ago

Ma Comrade BahamaPundit, refresh me head - wasn't Theodore Brent not a former chairman of the 'Bahjamaland' Hotel Corporation....... and least we forget, was it not Comrade Cecil, who gave Theodore Brent his very first political appoint?

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