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A Hotel on St. Barts and the Battle of Billionaires Over Quality of Life

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A Hotel on St. Barts and the Battle of Billionaires Over Quality of Life

The Dupre companies started projects as the island was dealing with new concerns about sustainability. A 2016 Wildlife Conservation Society report stated that the island’s environment is “increasingly degrading” due to land-based pollution in the ocean and destruction of marine habitats, urbanization and excessive fishing. A year later, Hurricane Irma devastated the island, leaving an already severe housing shortage for workers.

This tension may explain some of the animosity towards Ms. Dupre and her husband, Mark Nunelli (former managing partner of Bain Capital, former chief executive of Domino’s Pizza and an investor in an outsourcing concern, a call center and other ventures). Someone scratched “Get Out Dupre Pig” in red on a white construction wall—a highly unusual act of vandalism on a mostly crime-free island. One of the English-language island online forums has a chat titled “Death to Domino’s Pizza” in reference to the hotel project.

“In one corner you have this billionaire business firm and in the other a group of local people are saying please don’t harm our marine life,” said Eddie Cizzopur, a Youngstown, Ohio, attorney who lives on St. Staying in the winter season for years. “It was like a ‘Rocky’ story, which was conquered by the locals.”

But Ms Dupre and Mr Nunelli are hardly the only superrich to have been accused of making plans that overlook the scale of the island or the Caribbean beauty. The islanders have watched as tycoons increasingly compete to see who can anchor the biggest yacht in the harbor, or build the biggest villa.

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The local government recently limited the size of the new villas to 150 square meters (a little over 1,600 sq ft)., But at least 50 previously issued construction permits are still in the pipeline – meaning the new mega mansion will certainly be built. Sometimes the crystalline waters around the island have become cloudy as build-up-runoff sediments damage the reefs and drive away marine animals. A marine biologist who works on the island told me she cried after returning to a diving site full of turtles and sharks and found it barren.

Ms. Dupre and her husband declined to comment for this article, referring to questions from Mrs. Dupre and Mr. Stanton, a spokesman for her company, SAS St. Jean Beach Real Estate. He said the company would appeal the decision against L’Etoile Permit to a high court in France in March, but that decision would take at least 15 months. Ms Dupre still hopes to build a hotel, but will fill the hole as ordered once the collective grants permit, he said.

“He has a deep background in hotel management, and Dennis and family have had a special affection for the island for more than 20 years,” said Mr. Stanton. “She and the St. Barts team realized they were very attentive to bringing a peaceful, beautiful thing to this beach, and would engage in constructive conversations with the community about the project.”

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