By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A top realtor yesterday said he had decided to “get aggressive” in trying to sell the renowned Windermere Island Club, telling Tribune Business that at $3.6 million - a 45 per cent discount to previous demands - it was “competitively priced”.
George Damianos, head of Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty, told Tribune Business he had restarted the marketing push for the Eleuthera-based property, made famous by past visitors such as Britain’s late Princess Diana, because talks with an interested investor group had yet to produce a deal.
“I’ve had it for probably a month,” Mr Damianos said of the listing. “I’ve been a little bit distracted because I’ve been talking to a group interested in it.
“We’ve been back and forth and not concluded our transaction. I said: ‘Let’s get aggressive and look for a buyer’.”
He added that the investor group discussing the Windermere Island Club’s purchase with him were eyeing a much wider investment and development, as they also “want to buy the northern end of the island as well”.
Tribune Business understands from sources familiar with developments that the owner of both the Windermere Island Club, and an associated four-acre home priced at $2 million that is also for sale, is American developer Carry Rich.
Mr Rich was also behind the Windermere Island North investment project, one of the first developments approved by the 2002-2007 Christie administration, and it appears this is the project referenced by Mr Damianos as “the northern end of the island”.
The well-known Bahamian realtor declined to name the Windermere Island Club’s owner, although he confirmed that both it and the four-acre home were being offered for sale via bank foreclosure.
He also declined to name the bank holding the mortgage security (and power of sale) over the Club and associated home site, although he identified it as a Bahamas-based institution.
It is unclear, though, whether the Windermere Island North project may be sold off, too, as it does not appear in the properties being marketed by Mr Damianos - and thus seems not to be covered by the same mortgage charge.
Still, Mr Damianos indicated the renewed marketing effort appeared to be generating some interest.
“Right now, I’m responding to a couple of inquiries I’ve gotten today, and some two days ago,” he said. “I’ve had interest from a group out of Miami.
“It’s a little bit of interest; it’s not enough to say we’re going to get an offer. It’s too soon to say that.”
Describing Windermere Island as “lovely, there’s no secret about that”, Mr Damianos said the 5.2567 acre property - with 417 feet of beach on the Atlantic Ocean - was ideal for development into a boutique hotel or mixed-use resort property.
He added that the model typically employed today was for developers to construct villas or detached cottages, sell them to buyers, place them in a rental pool and then split revenues with owners and a management team, while providing attractions such as a bar and grill.
“I’m looking for a developer who will redevelop the Windermere Club site. That’s what I’m looking for. It’s ripe for development,” Mr Damianos told Tribune Business.
“We’re excited, and hopefully will get rid of it in short order.... We’ve discounted the properties. We’ve taken into account the economy today, and done our best to price them right to make sure we are not fooling around with the market.”
An Internet search conducted by Tribune Business showed that the Windermere Island Club had previously been placed for sale with rival Bahamian realtor Cross & Mosko, indicating that its owner had been attempting to salvage their equity investment.
The purchase price listed by Cross & Mosko was $6.5 million for the Club alone, indicating that Mr Damianos and the bank are attempting to offload it at a 45 per cent discount.
“There’s a little bit of negotiating room left, but we feel we’re very competitively priced,” Mr Damianos told Tribune Business.
The Windermere Island Club has been closed “for a couple of years”, he added, expressing confidence that the island’s rich history and reputation would prove invaluable to any buyer.
Windermere Island, which is itself six miles long, had been a favourite getaway for the late Princess Diana, and described by global explorer Jacques Cousteau as having “one of the two best beaches in the world”.
The Club itself features three guest buildings, a restaurant and dining facilities, and numerous other amenities.