• Seeks fresh approval for ex-Scotia site
• Up to 100 total jobs if given go-ahead
• $3m spend on 175-seat dual location
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Wendy’s is urging the planning authorities to take “great care” to ensure approval for a Paradise Island restaurant, which could create between 75-100 total jobs, is not again derailed by procedural irregularities.
Psomi Holdings, the corporate vehicle seeking to redevelop the former Scotiabank branch into a combined 175-seat Wendy’s and Marco’s Pizza eatery, called on the Town Planning Committee to make sure “the correct procedures” for holding “a fair public consultation” on its application are followed.
Launching its fresh bid for site plan approval, Psomi Holdings told Keenan Johnson, the Town Planning Committee’s chairman in a July 23, 2023, letter: “Having regard to the decision of the [appeals] Board setting aside Psomi’s previous approval due to the lack of public consultation, we would respectfully request that great care be taken to ensure that the correct procedures are implemented by the Town Planning Committee in dealing with the application.”
It also called on the planning regulator to make sure “appropriate measures are taken to ensure that the public consultation is fair” after the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, in a June 14, 2023 verdict, overturned the original go-ahead for the Paradise Island restaurant project on the basis that the Town Planning Committee did not carry out adequate public consultation in accordance with the Planning and Subdivisions Act.
The original ‘change of use’ application for the former Scotiabank site by Aetos Holdings, the Wendy’s and Marco’s Pizza Bahamian franchisee, was heard in March 2022 when COVID restrictions were still governing the staging of public meetings. The Appeal Board determined this hearing did not meet the Act’s requirements for public consultation, thus overruling the original decision and requiring Aetos Holdings to restart the planning approval process all over again.
Tribune Business understands that, if successful in obtaining planning permission, the Paradise Island restaurant project will create between 75 to 100 construction and full-time jobs. Aetos Holdings could also invest up to $3m in the site’s redevelopment, including all the necessary restaurant equipment to outfit the location.
Revealing some of its plans online, Aetos Holdings said: “The proposed plan for the old Scotiabank building features two of our modern state-of-the-art restaurants fit for the community in one unique space. This retrofit will utilise the same two-storey building which the bank previously occupied, but with a few design updates on the interior and exterior.
“It is important to note that there is no Wendy’s drive-through included in this proposal, as there will only be walk-up service to cater to our guests for Wendy’s, and Marco’s Pizza will offer both walk-up and delivery services within the area. Therefore, this proposal will not create additional traffic in the community for neighbouring residents, tourists [and] business, or to motorists. It also gives us an opportunity to cater to Paradise Island residents, tourists and guests.
“There is adequate space for parking, with 19 spots on the property, and directly across from our property is the paid parking lot. It is also conveniently located across the street from Marina Village and next to Dunkin’ Donuts. The building will feature large floor to ceiling hurricane impact doors and windows to allow natural light to come into the dining room on both levels,” Aetos Holdings continued.
“On the inside ground floor there is seating capacity for 56 guests, plus an additional 44 seats on the covered outdoor seating area on this level. Additionally, on the second level there is indoor seating for 40 guests plus an additional 32 seats on the covered outside dining area. This gives combined seating of up to 172 persons on both levels.
“This will give our guests the opportunity to enjoy their food in a new, modern dining space that both Bahamians and tourists deserve.” Chris Tsavoussis, who with his brother, Terry, is the principal and owner of Aetos Holdings, was yesterday said to be travelling back to The Bahamas and could not be reached for comment. However, the food franchise group said it is “confident that we will be able to offer an upscale quick service restaurant experience” on Paradise Island.
Meanwhile, new documents filed with the Town Planning Committee confirm previous Tribune Business revelations that there are no so-called restrictive covenants that prohibit Aetos Holdings from developing the site into a restaurant destination for its pizza and hamburger brands.
Jamie Liddell, a Lennox Paton attorney, in an October 26, 2021, legal opinion for Psomi Holdings and Chris Tsavoussis, concluded that last remaining restrictions on what the former Scotiabank branch site can be used for expired almost 48 years ago.
He agreed with this newspaper’s analysis that the location, at the intersection of Harbour Drive and Paradise Beach Drive, was limited to use as a bank branch and related offices for only a five-year period dating from the original conveyance of the property. The conveyance is dated November 9, 1970, which means the restriction expired just before the end of 1975.
“This restriction expired on November 9, 1975. As such, use of the site is no longer restricted to the business of banking,” Mr Liddell wrote. “There are no other restrictions encumbering the site that would prevent or inhibit the operation of a restaurant thereon.”
However, Aetos Holdings is likely to still encounter the same formidable opposition as its original Paradise Island plans faced. Atlantis had teamed with fellow Paradise Island hotels, the Ocean Club and Comfort Suites, plus Hurricane Hole’s developer, Sterling Global Financial, and the Paradise Island Tourism Development Association to oppose its plans on the basis that converting the bank into fast-food restaurants would create “a potential obstacle for planned luxury resort and residential development”.
The mega resort added that such projects are planned by itself, Four Seasons (the Ocean Club) and Hurricane Hole’s developer, and allowing the presence of Wendy’s and Marco’s Pizza will cause “incongruence with the idyllic setting of Paradise Island” and “erosion of the natural, scenic and aesthetic environment”.
Vaughn Roberts, Atlantis’ senior vice-president of government affairs and special projects, could not be reached for comment by Tribune Business before press time as night but it is unlikely that the mega resort’s stance on the Wendy’s and Marco’s Pizza project - or that of its fellow Paradise Island resorts and developers - will have changed significantly since they successfully appealed the original approval.
The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, in reversing the Town Planning Committee’s initial decision, said: “Having concluded that for such approval to stand there must be an application in accordance with the Planning and Subdivisions Act and public consultation as aforesaid, and same not having taken place, the appeal is allowed and the decision is therefore set aside.....
“[It] does not appear that an adequate opportunity was afforded to all parties to receive materials and make representations before a decision was made by the Town Planning Committee and this is fortified by the lack of documentation contained in the record of appeal provided.”
However, this newspaper was previously informed that Atlantis and some of the others seeking to now bar Aetos Holdings have little cause for complaint. Atlantis, which was said to have been approached first by Scotiabank as a potential purchaser, did not act despite possessing - and knowing of - the restrictions on that location.
Well-placed contacts, speaking on condition of anonymity, also disclosed that Sterling Global, the Hurricane Hole developer and another objector, actually did make an offer to acquire the former bank branch but it did not come close to meeting Scotiabank’s valuation. That valuation is said to have been close to $3m.