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RCI to spend $50 million removing derelict PI homes

Royal Caribbean International (RCI) will spend close to $50 million removing the derelict, collapsing, and decaying former private homes from the property they hope to turn into their Royal Beach Club in the next two years, the company’s Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider told Guardian Business yesterday.

Schneider, along with other RCI executives, gave members of the media a tour of the company’s privately held 13 acres slated for development into the beach club, and the four acres of Crown land that will also be converted into part of the beach club property.

Media were shown a property once owned by renowned actor Nicholas Cage, which is now in a state of extreme disrepair, with pools overflowing with mosquito larvae and algae.

Some homes are still filled with photographs and remnants of a privileged life once lived on a now deserted part of Paradise Island.

The former owners have left elliptical machines, Hi-Fi players and old video tapes to the mercy of elements on the island.

Royal Caribbean hopes to clean up the houses whose docks, the only access to the properties, are sliding into Nassau Harbour.

Schneider hopes RCI can keep at least a small piece of Paradise Island’s history that was sold to private interests years ago.

A former armory that sits on the shore of Paradise Island will be salvaged by RCI.

The company released its 89-page public consultation report on Friday and reported that the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC) did not find any structures on the property that need to be protected.

However, Schneider said RCI has determined that the former armory and Bahamas Customs building are worth saving and refurbishing, and will use the buildings as part of the Royal Beach Club.

Atlantis has been the biggest voice of protest against the development of the beach club on the western end of Paradise Island, following the protest of local entrepreneur and developer Toby Smith, who also proposed a Paradise Island beach club, and whose proposed Crown land leases overlapped with Royal Caribbean’s. RCI decreased its Crown land holdings, which no longer overlap with the other developer.

Environmentalists continue to protest the RCI project and took the media to part of the property looking toward the beach club area, explaining that much of the western end of Paradise Island needs to be protected.

Schneider explained that invasive species on the property will be removed, because the company has been asked to remove any invasive species on the property.

However, he said that RCI wants its beach club to be an experience where guests are surrounded by plant life, and will therefore plant trees on the property where trees are removed.

“Non-native invasive trees were taken out, and that’s just been an effort that the government has, and we’re living up to that effort or helping with that effort,” said Schneider.

“Our plan is to remove all of the invasive, non-native species, and then protect all of the native species. The challenge is if you remove all of the invasive, non-native species, this would be a barren strip of land because there’s so much of it.

“And so one of the significant parts of the budget is to put landscaping back in, because what we essentially want is a complete, lush forest.”

RCI will have another public consultation on the project on June 8 at Queen’s College, to answer any further questions on the project.

There were concerns that the project might affect the coastline of Paradise Island. However, RCI said they will be removing sea walls as part of recommendations by their engineers, in order to improve the coastline at the western end of the island.

Many of the changes made when the private properties on the island were acquired already negatively affected the coastline, Schneider said.