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Entrepreneur, Royal Caribbean Continue Pi Crown Land Battle

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

A Bahamian entrepreneur and Royal Caribbean last night continued their clash over disputed Paradise Island-based crown land that their separate projects are both competing for.

Executives representing the global cruise giant at a virtual public consultation on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for its $110m Royal Beach Club project were forced by Toby Smith to deny that they plan to start construction this October even though that is the date given in the document.

Royal Caribbean is sticking to its May 2023 opening date even as Mr Smith, principal of Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club Company , warned the cruise line about proceeding with the project when between two-three acres of the seven Crown Land acres that it needs are subject to active Supreme Court litigation between himself and the Attorney General’s Office.

Mr Smith said: “My curiosity is that Royal Caribbean thinks that they’re going to start in October when Ms (Rochelle) Newbold says the question and answer session is going to be extended until October 12. Then, how do you expect them to get boots on the ground when there’s a Supreme Court writ, suing the government, specifically the Attorney General, when the Attorney General’s Office is telling you to go ahead with the project?”

Mr Smith is seeking a Supreme Court declaration that he already has a valid and binding lease agreement for some of the same seven to 10-acre parcel sought by Royal Caribbean. He is asserting that he was granted a valid Crown Land lease over two-acre and three-acre parcels, including the lighthouse and the area at Colonial Beach for his own “beach break” destination.

James Boink, Royal Caribbean’s vice president of private destinations, responding to Mr Smith last night, said: “We have not announced that we will be starting the project in October. We will be starting the project once we receive all approvals. So when the process is complete, if approvals are received, we will be starting construction.”

Acknowledging the current court proceedings that do not involve Royal Caribbean, Mr Boink said the project has a completion date of May 2023. “We have fully executed leases with the Government for seven acres of crown land and three acres of seabed,” he said.

The date for completion of EIA public consultation is October 12, when all comments and questions about the project must be submitted to the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection.

Mr Boink said: “Today, Royal Caribbean has spent $60m and we anticipate the overall project budget will exceed $110m.” The Royal Beach Club project will include beach amenities for families, a splash pad for children, a heated swimming pool and beverage facilities for guests as well as Bahamian retail facilities for local businesses to set up shop.

“The economic impact for our project is approximately $1bn in the first 10 years. The Royal Beach Club will drive increased demand to Nassau, resulting in 1.2m additional guests each year, so that by the end of this decade, we will bring 2.5m guests annually to Nassau,” Mr Boink added.

“Not only will we bring more guests to Nassau, but more guests will also disembark the ship and stay in Nassau for a longer period of time to enjoy the Nassau experience. Royal Beach Club guests will enjoy the beach break for approximately four hours, leaving over four hours to five hours to enjoy local bars, restaurants, shopping tours and historical attractions.”

Royal Caribbean is also pledging to create 250 new jobs for Bahamians, as well as spur new commercial activity for locals through the project bringing in a “maximum” capacity of 3,500 visitors a day.

Comments

mandela 2 months, 2 weeks ago

If the government gives in to RCL it would be a tragedy. These greedy suc$ers don't give a rats a$$ about Bahamians or the average ones, or how they destroy islands and cays, all they care about hogging all the money for themselves, and our governments act as they did in the slavery days they sell the peoples assets and their people for their own enrichment.

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truetruebahamian 2 months, 2 weeks ago

There are many legal and clever ways to boycot RCCL. They must all be explored and put into action.

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licks2 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Why????? Yinna know that Mr. Smith talking that "thing" yall say them other peoples dem are talking aye? If Mr. Smith has such a strong case why not request a judicial review?? A JR can "net" him an injunction ya know? Plenty of us need to grow the hell up and "smell" the international business community. . .Smith carn even "scrape-up" 2 mills to go forward with his project. . .which carn even pay for the break-water works he will absolutly need in order to put his project on that land!! Child please. Some of yinna even een know what the heck yinna talking about. . .selling what land fella? All them talks in the news papers about leasing that land and yinna still talking "fally" about selling land!!

Yinna go "rest" yinna behinds with that talk. . .Smith could access the courts in a number of ways it he so have a "tight" case ya hear!!

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Mr Smith already has the money for his project

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