AT a press conference at his Lyford- Nygard Cay home last Monday Peter Nygard called The Tribune “silly” to think that he would create a stem cell centre in his own backyard.
In fact Mr Nygard expressed it in far more colourful language, so here goes – Nygard at his best:
“Stem cell facility here...there is another silly thing The Tribune wrote as if we are going to do a stem cell facility here as if there is a secret agreement...my goodness how can you stoop to such stupidity who in hell would ever even conceive that – it doesn’t make any sense at all to fabricate such a silly story if a stem cell facility and medical facility (will be built) it’s going to be a grand facility that will be a centre core to attract everyone else to it and it has to be a substantial business that would attract some of the smartest people in the industry but it needs to be the trophy of the Bahamas.”
So that is settled. This statement from the great man himself will obviously allow many Lyford Cay residents, who believed he had plans for an international youth rejuvenating centre at Nygard Cay, to sleep more peacefully tonight.
As a matter of fact, the only thing that makes The Tribune “silly” is that it believed Mr Nygard at all — and we even question whether we should believe him now. You see on June 19th last year, it was Mr Nygard himself who said that his spa was planned for Nygard Cay. He is recorded as having told the Bahamas Investment Authority: “The original concept is to house this facility in the same location as Nygard Cay, but to change the look and feel of some of the buildings.”
Are we to now believe that he has had a mind change? We hope so.
At least one Lyford Cay resident was also greatly relieved to learn that Mr Nygard is not a Bahamian, despite the assurances given in the House of Assembly last week by none other than MICAL MP V Alfred Gray that he was.
“Mr Nygard is a Bahamian,” Mr Gray told parliamentarians, “he is a philanthropist, and I think he has given more to this country than many other Bahamians – including those who criticize him.”
That was surely a mouthful from the cocky, little Mr Gray.
However, before the Assembly adjourned to this morning Mr Nygard’s Immigration file was pulled and the public was assured that Mr Nygard was in fact a permanent resident —not a Bahamian citizen. He had no more rights than any other permanent resident.
The Tribune, hearing the complaints of Lyford Cay residents, believed what it had been told about the location of the stem cell centre — which had been confirmed last year by none other than Mr Nygard. The argument was that the area was zoned as residential and private. Many a resident’s convenants would have been breached if the gates had been thrown open. There was much chatter of law suits if the area were commercialised.
The problem that residents faced was that the security, peace and quiet of Lyford Cay was about to be changed — a possibility that its Canadian developer EP Taylor could not have conceived in 1948.
Apparently, in developing Lyford Cay, Mr Taylor carved out for himself what is now Nygard Cay, minus all the restrictive covenants required of those buying property in Lyford Cay.
Mr Taylor also retained for himself, family and staff all the easement rights over the road and pathways in Lyford Cay, which led to his home. Mr Taylor could never have anticipated a Peter Nygard who would want to change all of that.
In June last year, Mr Nygard met with the Bahamas Investment Authority, headed by Sir Baltron Bethel, government’s senior policy adviser, to discuss his plans to restore parts of Nygard Cay damaged by fire. Also his proposal for a Medical Spa that would specialise in stem cell research and treatment.
Mr Nygard told the meeting that he planned to invest about $50 million in all — $29 to $30 million to restore Nygard Cay and $26 to $30 million invested in building a medical spa.
The whole concept seemed to be planned as one large unit at Nygard Cay. In fact that is what Mr Nygard told the Investment Authority last year. Obviously in view of last week’s statement when Mr Nygard virtually told The Tribune it was “silly” to believe his first statement, he has now changed his mind. If there is ever to be a stem cell centre it will not be at Nygard Cay.
It is understood that his stem cell concept was to introduce an anti-aging treatment facility using stem cells.
He said his vision “would be to put together an environment where the Bahamas can practice the most advanced medicine in the world, and do it within the regulatory lines of the government.”
The only problem is that we understand that there is another developer, whose plans have already been approved in principle by the Ingraham government. He has already invested millions into preparing a facility in Freeport and was just waiting for the legislation to be passed to proceed with his plans. We understand that his plans have also been approved by the medical ethics authority.
We shall now see if our legislators are in a position to objectively decide which plans will be best for the future of this country and its people.