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Search Broadens for Replacement of Defunct Island Beachcomber Hotel

As illustrated in a vintage postcard, the Lindbergh Bay property was a popular tourist destination for decades, starting in the late 1950s when the Island Beachcomber Resort was built there. (Photo courtesy of Michael Resch)

The Port Authority is ready to reboot its solicitation for replacement of St. Thomas’ old Island Beachcomber Hotel, and at least one entity is already prepared to respond.

At a meeting Wednesday, the authority’s board rejected the staff’s selection of PCL Management, LLC for the project, saying it didn’t like the way the selection process was handled.

A principal for PCL, Carolina de Lyrot, responded to a Source inquiry Thursday that the entity will again submit a proposal.

It was unclear whether Dhruv Development, LLC, the only other entity considered, would try again. Its principal, Amit Patel, did not respond to an email inquiry.

The board’s primary objection was that the authority had issued both a Request for Qualification and a Request for Proposal simultaneously, presumably both rushing and narrowing the process.

“They wanted to broaden the scope of the search,” Executive Director Carlton Dowe said Thursday.

It’s only the process, not the substance, that will change, according to Dowe.

The authority is seeking someone to raze the old Beachcomber hotel, which has been closed since 2018 and replace it with a three-star or higher hotel and/or a water recreation facility. The successful entity would lease the beachfront property, almost two acres near the Cyril E. King Airport, from the authority, most likely on a long-term lease.

The next solicitation “will be pretty much the same” as the one issued in September. “I can’t think of any change,” he said, adding, “We should be getting it out by next week.”

People will have 60 days to respond to the Request for Qualification, he said. After the staff reviews those, it will send out a Request for Proposal.

“Anybody can apply,” Dowe said. That “certainly” includes those who already submitted proposals.

Asked if he thinks the authority will get a greater response than it did last fall, Dowe said, “I’m always optimistic.”

This will actually be the third time the authority has tried to replace the old hotel.

In 2012, it awarded the project to Penn Hotels Lindbergh Bay Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Penn Hotels, which owned the Treasure Isle Hotel in Tortola. The company ran into permitting problems and eventually withdrew.

There were two other competitors at the time: Michael M. Resch, the son of the original owners of Island Beachcomber, and nearby Emerald Beach Resort doing business then as a Best Western.

Emerald Beach owner, Louis de Lyrot, had told the Source last fall that he was considering submitting a proposal in response to the 2022 request for proposals. He didn’t, but his daughter is a PCL Management principal.

The PCL proposal included a 60-room resort hotel, swimming pool, restaurant, bar, retail space, parking, and a water recreation facility at the beach. It estimated its investment at slightly over $17 million and said it could complete construction within three years. The proposal called for a 50-year, renewable lease and a rent of at least $90,000 a year, and possibly higher, depending on the resort’s gross receipts.

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