July 8, 2001 – The West Indian Co. board of directors has given WICO president Edward Thomas the go-ahead to negotiate with the Chicago-based company that purchased the Yacht Haven Hotel and Marina last year to lease the Long Bay landfill adjoining the hotel property.
"This project has the potential to be of great significance to our community," Thomas said in the July WICO News bulletin. "We are anxiously waiting for the dilapidated property to be removed from the landscape and … replaced with an attractive development."
David Dibo, principal of PRM Realty Group, said Friday that the WICO board's authorization is one more link in the chain of his company's plans for the Long Bay property and added that he is "really happy about it."
Thomas, a PRM representative and attorneys for both parties have held discussions regarding the leasing of the seven acres of WICO-owned landfill extending westward from the 4.5-acre Yacht Haven property. At a meeting in June, WICO board members were briefed on the discussions and, the newsletter said, authorized Thomas "and his team to proceed to negotiate a lease, subject to the board's ratification."
Dibo said Friday, "It's a process. The chains and the links keep coming together." He added, "We're waiting for a couple of documents, then will probably be coming down" to meet with Thomas and the WICO team.
Thomas, who also chairs the WICO board, pledged the "fullest cooperation" of the West Indian Co. with PRM to achieve "an aesthetically pleasing project" on the landfill property, according to the newsletter.
Dibo indicated in late May that PRM had held informal preliminary talks with WICO personnel before submitting a proposal in writing. This, he said, was in order to "understand what their expectations are and where they're coming from. There are a lot of issues in terms of the use of the property and how everything fits together … We have to master plan the whole site. In that process, we've got to figure out how their uses mix and match, and how it all goes together."
Preliminary design work, he said, had dealt with land "uses, rather than design." But he said PRM's concept was "to make it into some sort of exciting retail, resort-type use, definitely expanding the marina, definitely looking at the yachting community and catering to it in a way that's far different from how it is now."
Last year, PRM purchased the derelict Yacht Haven property, unrepaired and largely abandoned since sustaining major damage in Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, from Malaysian investor Tan Kay Hock for about $8 million. Tan had purchased it from a bank several years earlier but put it back on the market without making any improvements. A major stumbling block to Tan's expressed intention to rehabilitate the property was his failure to work out an arrangement with WICO to lease the adjacent landfill.
Dibo had said in May that he hoped to reach an agreement with WICO "within the next month," and the board gave Thomas its go-ahead three weeks later.
PRM already has completed preliminary technical site surveys, held permit pre-application meetings with Planning and Natural Resources Department personnel, and held discussions with the League of Women Voters and representatives of the yachtnig community. Dibo said that once agreement is reached on the landfill lease, PRM will apply for Coastal Zone Management Commission approval to raze some of the dilapidated Yacht Haven structures. He said in May that he envisioned the demoliton occurring "within six months or so" and that the project would be into the rebuilding phase "by this time next year, maybe even a little earlier."
Dibo has described his company's potential investment in the project as "hundreds of millions of dollars" involving the land, the marina, a retail component and a resort component.
According to Thomas, "the temporary and permanent employment this project will generate, and the caliber of clientele it should attract, will be a real boost to our economy."
For further background, see the earlier Source report, Yacht Haven owners readying WICO proposal.