By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The multi-million dollar Albany development is aiming to become “more than a place to own a home”, with a recording studio and business and financial centre among the expansion options being assessed by developers.
Christopher Anand, Albany’s managing partner, told Tribune Business that the luxury south-west New Providence community was poised to expand “more than at any time before” as the world economy slowly emerged from recession.
Disclosing that the project’s investors were seeking to “create a Centre of Excellence” in everything it did, Mr Anand said other proposals, such as a tennis and gold academy, were already “more than plans”.
And, with Albany having just completed two new padel tennis courts to take its total to three, the project is also seeking to bring an international tournament in this sport to the Bahamas.
Joking that he was still “trying to put the scar tissue” from the recession behind him, Mr Anand said he was “cautiously optimistic” about Albany’s continued growth as the world recovered from the 2008 financial crisis.
“We are looking an expanding Albany’s business more than at any time before,” he revealed to Tribune Business. “That’s a function of success, and that’s awesome.”
Asked what lay in Albany’s expansion plans, Mr Anand replied: “There’d be some additional activity around the marina, and we’re looking at some innovative strategies, including having Albany not just as a place to own a home.
“It’s a place to conduct other activities. We’ve been exploring the concept of bringing in a recording studio, a business and financial centre, and a tennis and golf academy for training tomorrow’s professionals.
“These are real things that we are actively looking into. They’re a bit more than plans. If we talk about expanding and go one-and-a-half steps forward, those are the things that we are looking to develop here.”
The golf academy interest comes as little surprise, given that Albany’s major shareholders include the Tavistock Group, the holding vehicle for investments made by Lyford Cay-based billionaire Joe Lewis, and world-famous golfers Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. Several other professional golfers also have homes at Albany.
Mr Anand, meanwhile, said Albany’s golf course clubhouse, complete with restaurant and movie theatre, was “just about to finish” construction, while the community’s equestrian facilities were also operational.
An orchard has been planted, and Mr Anand added that Albany’s padel tennis courts had been expanded from one to three.
Explaining the strategy behind this facility and its expansion, the Albany managing partners said the developers planned “to bring a professional padel tennis tournament to the country”.
Padel tennis is like ordinary tennis, the major difference being that it is played in an enclosed court with the ball being allowed to bounce off the walls.
Mr Anand added: “The game is played by eight million people in Spain. It’s very popular in Latin America, the north-eastern US and is growing in London and places like that.
“It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and we’re trying to build a Centre of Excellence in padel tennis..... We’re trying to do something pretty special.”
And Albany’s boutique hotel, which is “a series of luxury residences” featuring between three-five bedrooms, now totalled 40 properties and was continuing to grow.
Mr Anand said the financial strength and commitment of Albany’s shareholders, together with its customer base and quality product, had enabled the high-end community to take-off despite having to contend with the recession.
“We have great shareholders, great customers and have a great product. That’s the reason why this all happened,” he added. “It’s testimony to what we’ve created.”
Mr Anand hinted that Albany and the Tavistock Group played a significant part in arranging May’s upcoming friendly match between UK Premier League giant, Tottenham Hotspur, and the Jamaican national team, which will be played at the Thomas A. Robinson national stadium.
Mr Lewis, through his ENIC International investment vehicle, is Tottenham Hotspur’s majority shareholder.