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VIPA Board Votes to Proceed with Request for Proposal for Lindbergh Bay Hotel

Members of the V.I. Port Authority board during their July board meeting. (Screenshot from Zoom meeting)

Tensions were heightened Wednesday during the monthly Port Authority board meeting when the discussion to vote on a Request for Proposal (RFP) phase for a hotel at Lindbergh Bay on St. Thomas was addressed.

The Port Authority board voted to authorize to commence an RFP phase of the leasing of Estate Lindbergh Bay Parcel Nos. 70-X, 70-T, 70-T-1, and 80-U (the former Island Beachcomber property) for the purposes of building and operating a hotel with the shortlisted bidders PCL Management, LLC and Purpose Lodging, but not all members were in favor of it.

PCL Management is a new company formed by Caroline de Lyrot and Paul de Lyrot. They have been involved in operations management of hotel properties for more than 10 years. Purpose Lodging is a hospitality development firm operated by Bill Murray and Ryan Morgan, who have 10 years of hospitality experience. Their company is registered in Birmingham, Alabama.

In February, the governing board rejected the recommendation for the demolition, leasing, development, and operation of a hotel at Lindbergh Bay and requested to re-solicit services due to the time period of solicitation. In April, the Port Authority issued a Request for Qualification (RFQ) for qualified and experienced firms for 60 days. In June, responses were given by PCL Management and Purpose Lodging. Both proposals were reviewed for compliance by the procurement and contract manager and members of the evaluation team. One proposal was deemed “non-responsive” for failure to comply with minimum requirements and the firm resubmitted their information. After another review, both firms were deemed qualified to undertake the project.

Member Joseph Boschulte had concerns that hotel developers were not directly asked to submit RFQs for the project.

“I just spoke at a hotel development conference last week in Miami. Tremendous interest in the USVI,” said Boschulte. “I spoke at another hotel development conference earlier this spring … What’s surprising to me is none of them mentioned this project.”

Executive Director Carlton Dowe responded and told Boschulte that he should have invited developers to apply. The executive director highlighted that there were lengthy discussions about changes for the RFQ and the changes were applied to be re-solicited. No concern was raised for the authority to reach out to developers. He pressed that all members need to attend meetings so that concerns are addressed.

Member Celestino White shared his concern regarding the matter. “It appears to me the purpose that went out is because we did not see on that listed the preferred entity being selected by the committee,” said White. “We continue to give the impression that we are looking for a specific group to put in a bid for this hotel.”

“The reason why this bid went back out is because most persons that were applying did not want to go through a plan design. We asked that it go back out so people can know what is required of them,” said member Kevin Rodriguez. It was not “special interest,” he said, regarding White’s response.

“We have to keep in mind who our real target audience is for the projects we are trying to develop,” said member Ariel Smith. “Part of the port’s role is to find a group of people or professionals who would be interested in that type of project and from that pool we select the best for our community.”

Boschulte, Smith, and Lionel Jacobs voted against the authorization.

After the vote, members began discussing technicalities about previous board and committee meetings and member attendance at those meetings that allowed the matter to get to its current point.

“We had a chance to tell them [in committee and board meetings] exactly what we wanted and who we wanted and where we wanted, and they followed the instructions that we gave,” said member Derek Gabriel. “The property is sitting there and it is doing no good for us sitting in its current condition.”

“We have to come to the committee meeting. That’s where certain things are done,” said Dowe.

Board members Joseph Boschulte, Derek Gabriel, Lionel Jacob, Willard John, Kevin Rodriguez, Ariel Smith, Leona Smith, and Celestino White were present.

Related Links:

Port Authority Renews Effort to Replace Old Island Beachcomber Resort

Search Broadens for Replacement of Defunct Island Beachcomber Hotel

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