Residents voice objections to new PI resort proposal

THE proposed Paradise Yacht Club hotel on Paradise Island.

THE proposed Paradise Yacht Club hotel on Paradise Island.


Tribune Business Editor


RESIDENTS last night argued that plans to transform the former Paradise Harbour Club site into a seven-storey hotel represent an “overdevelopment” that will impact quality of life and devalue their properties.

Joshua Brooks, representative for HotelConsult Bahamas, pledged after the Town Planning Committee’s public hearing on the project that the developer will “do everything we can” to address the concerns of neighbours and other Paradise Island residents as it seeks to forge a “partnership” approach to make the development a success.

“We are glad the community came out this evening to learn more about the project and voice their concerns,” he said. “We look forward to continuing to be a constructive member of the Paradise Island community.

“Residents can rest assured that we will do everything we can to resolve their concerns where possible, and hope to work in partnership with the community to make the project a success to the benefit of Paradise Island, our existing and future Bahamian workforce and The Bahamas as a whole.”

Neighbours voiced concerns over the extra traffic the development will generate in a residential area of Paradise Island. They also expressed opposition to the proposed rezoning of one of HotelConsult’s land parcels, lot 13, from residential to commercial to facilitate a 74-space parking facility.

A resident of the Shangri-La Condominiums said the planned resort should not be given permission to convert the lot as its commercial use will devalue neighbouring properties.

He also argued that the project is not financially beneficial to the residents of Cloister Drive, who are mostly Bahamians, adding that one property owner should not make the entire community “suffer”. If the resort proceeds, he warned the developers “leave us no choice but to take legal action”.

“It will not financially benefit the residents of Paradise Island Colony Subdivision; it will benefit someone [else],” he asserted. “I’m sure at some point someone’s going to ask, if you don’t already know, who are the ultimate beneficial owners of that property. And does a portion of one lot within a community dictate that everybody else should suffer?

“For example, if you have a home and there’s a lot built on it next door to you. And they tear it down and they decide, well, we’re going to build a parking garage. We’re going to build a mechanic shop and then everyone and their mother is going to bring cars to it, and they’re going to be on cement blocks. Your value of your home is not what it was the day before. This is why we are here.

“We bought this, we are no different to you as individual residents. Most of us, like you, are Bahamian and we spent hard-earned money to make a difference for our families. I do not believe, and I could be corrected, that the developer is Bahamian, and I do not believe that that development is for the benefit of Cloister Drive nor for the benefit of Paradise Island Colony subdivision. And you will leave us no choice but to take legal action...” It is understood that the project’s principal is a Bahamas resident.

Another Paradise Island resident, meanwhile, argued that the parking garage will attract extra traffic volumes that will negatively affect the quality of life of neighbours.

He said: “Cloister Drive east and west is a residential area. Children ride their bicycles; we walk unhindered on Cloister Drive. I’m very concerned about lot 13 and the new entrances being proposed for the parking garage at the top of lot 13. That is of concern to me. And the quality of life of those of us who live on Cloister Drive can be very affected by that particular concern.”

Plans submitted to the Department of Physical Planning revealed that the project is being expanded to a seven-storey hotel featuring a 46 percent increase in units compared to earlier plans. The number of hotel rooms and apartments, which will be spread across the upper six floors, is being increased by 32 units - from the 69 cited last year to 101 in the latest version submitted to the planning authorities.

Neighbours questioned why the developers, who had previously met with them, decided to increase the number of rooms by such a large amount. “We want to know why did it change from 39 or 38 units to 100,” a resident inquired.

HotelConsult Bahamas said it is working within their rights and that “everyone wishes to

maximise their property. We obviously sat down, we engaged with yourselves, but we just want to point out we all work within our development rights and are not contributing anything that we’re not allowed to do. Everyone wishes to maximize their property,” said Mr Brooks

Another resident asserted that the proposal is an “overdevelopment” of the site and that the property is not wide enough to accommodate the scope of the design. They said: “The width of that property isn’t even 100 feet for most of it. How are you gonna get this huge building on this tiny piece of property?”

In response to traffic concerns during the construction phase, Hotel- Consult said it has adequate space to accommodate workers and will manage the traffic as best it can.

“We have multiple sites around Paradise Island so we have more than enough space to accommodate construction workers, as well as transporting to and from. They can get dropped off and they can go park on our other properties on Bayview,” said Mr Brooks. “We’ll manage that as best we can within our allowances.”

Architects for HotelConsult Bahamas, owner and developer of the southern Paradise Island site as well as the former Columbus Tavern, revealed to the Department of Physical Planning in a March 5, 2024, letter that the revised proposal calls for a one-storey increase in the hotel/ apartment building’s height compared to previous plans submitted to the regulator in April 2023.

Brent Creary, principal with ArchVenture Ltd and the project’s Bahamian architect, told physical planning chief, Charles Zonicle, that “the primary structure of the project sits on the site of the former Paradise Harbour Club and former Columbus Tavern”. The location was described in accompanying documents as “land currently in a state of disrepair and unused”.

“The project consists of a seven-storey hotel/ apartment building of approximately 101,370 square feet with primary parking housed within a two-level structure on the adjacent portion of lot 13 of Paradise Island Colony Development (PICD),” Mr Creary wrote.

“The Paradise Yacht Club consists of 101 units, which range between 372 and 1,004 square feet located across the six upper floors of the structure. The project will comprise of a mix of serviced apartment and hotel rooms. Each unit is provided with a balcony with harbour views. The total conditioned area is 72,920 square feet with non-conditioned areas totalling 28,450 square feet.”

Details such as dollar figures for the total investment and the number of jobs, both construction and full-time, were not included in Mr Creary’s letter. “The ground floor houses typical amenities including a restaurant (with indoor and outdoor seating), a retail area and a yacht crew lounge area,” he added of the current proposal for the 1.6 acre site.

“An outdoor gym, swimming pool with jacuzzi, as well as back of house administration spaces are also located on the ground floor. A small roof-top bar will occasionally be operating from the fifth floor and would cater to small groups of no more than 25 persons.”

The proposed parking lot, located at the intersection of Cloister Drive with Paradise Island Drive, will feature 37 spots on both the ground and below grade levels for a total of 74 spaces. A further 15 places will be provided at the main project site for a total of 89.

“Staff will be given the option to use a company- provided shuttle service collecting from multiple locations around New Prov- idence,” said Mr Creary, adding that the project will use utility services provided by Paradise Island Utilities and local communications providers.

“Preliminary conversations with Paradise Island Utilities have successfully occurred to ensure projected demands are available to the site,” he added. “To meet the project’s goals for sustainability, the roof will be equipped with photovoltaic panels to supplement power consumption.”

Mr Creary added, though, that the project’s parking strategy and needs depend on “extinguishing” the covenant governing its proposed 74 parking spaces site and rezoning this from residential use to commercial.


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