The transformation of the westernmost portion of Paradise Island – which contains a historic lighthouse – into a beach club will take developer Toby Smith and his team 18 months at a cost of $2 million, he told Guardian Business on Friday.
Last week, Smith revealed via a press statement that his company, Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club Co. Ltd. (PILBC), entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC) on the restoration of the Paradise Island Lighthouse.
Smith is awaiting the government’s decision on his plans for the acreage, which this paper understands could come next month.
It is also understood that Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has been purchasing property on the western side of Paradise Island in preparation for its own project.
Smith, who has been working on getting a green light on the project for eight years, said he hopes to build a low-density beach club for Bahamians and tourists alike to enjoy.
“We would like to get started as soon as we can,” he said.
“When it comes to fruition will be able to handle a big volume of people. Breaking even is totally achievable.
“If a cruise ship is taking four and a half to five thousand people, I think I’m gonna be smart enough to get enough people for my break-even point.
“I’d love to be able to have as many Bahamians over here as possible, I think it’s going to be a great day away to have an historical adventure.”
Smith said the big elements of the project that will take 18 months are the development of the beach club, the restoration of the lighthouse and the construction of a dock to ferry passengers.
He has already begun to tidy up the land, where people have left heaps of trash and the tide has washed up loads of waste from the harbor.
“Simple is good,” he said. “We are not trying to build a concrete jungle here, we’re trying to build something that’s low-impact, sustainable and all enveloping of what The Bahamas and Bahamians are all about.”
Smith said it is his dream to become the lighthouse keeper.
He explained that the country did not celebrate the lighthouse’s 200-year anniversary and he hopes to not ever miss another anniversary.
Smith said in his press statement last week: “We recognize the need for the preservation of historical buildings, including all lighthouses in The Bahamas, and we hope that this will be a catalyst for further projects towards this objective. This is a Bahamian lighthouse, a Bahamian beach for Bahamians and our guests to enjoy for the long term and I look forward to embracing even more positive support and public opinion along the way.”