Senate approves permit for Grand Beach Palace
Published: August 22, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - The Senate on Tuesday approved a Major Coastal Zone Management permit that clears part of the way for a multi-million-dollar renovation of the former Grand Beach Palace Hotel, which legislators said could bring 300 jobs back to St. Thomas.
The property has been dormant as it has changed ownership a number of times during the past decade, according to senators.
The shuffle began in 2003 when CTF St. Thomas Corporation sold the 290-room Renaissance Grand Beach Resort to Mexico-based Palace Resorts. A Palace subsidiary, Palace Resorts St. Thomas, agreed to pay $9.75 million for the 26-acre Smith Bay property.
Layoffs announced later that year sparked a series of labor disputes and the hotel announced its closure in August 2004, leaving around 300 employees out of a job.
In November 2006, St. Thomas-based Palm Resorts paid $17.5 million for the resort. Months later, in January 2007, Wyndham St. Thomas Development LLC bought the property for $31 million.
Days after the purchase, Wyndham said it planned to spend $40 million to renovate the hotel and convert the rooms into 143 condominium timeshare units by late 2008.
It is unclear how much, if any, of those renovations took place.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved a major coastal zone management permit, approved by Gov. John deJongh Jr. on June 21, allowing the company to:
- Restore the existing dock to its original condition and add a canopy over the leg portion of the dock.
- Create a 180-foot protected swim area.
- Install a water trampoline.
- Replace the reverse osmosis intake and outfall lines.
Wyndham first applied for the permit in July 2009, according to permit documents. It will pay a $23,000 annual fee to be renegotiated in the permit's sixth, 11th and 16th years. The permit is good for 20 years.
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone said the renovation and reopening of the resort could create about the same number of jobs that were lost when it closed, including 136 permanent jobs and around 160 temporary ones in construction.
Sen. Carlton Dowe, who co-sponsored the permit approval with Sen. Louis Hill, said Wyndham officials promised to begin about $19 million in restoration work early next year.
"This is clearly going to offer some economic opportunity for the people of the Virgin Islands and new taxes in the territory," Hill said.
The Senate also approved other coastal zone permits:
- To allow IGY-AYH St. Thomas Holdings (American Yacht Harbor) to continue to use 4.36 acres of submerged lands with five wooden docks in Estate Smith Bay for the operation of a marina for an annual fee of $35,000.
- To allow Chaconia Properties to continue to use a two-story building, gravel parking lot and a 420-foot wooden dock with five slips in Estate Frydenhoj for an annual fee of $9,000.
- To allow St. Croix Marine and Development Company to continue to use an existing marina of eight piers, including 40 boat slips and two rail systems in Estate Mount Welcome. The annual fee was not clear from documents available Tuesday.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email email@example.com.