Lyford Cay Club in $17m shopping centre purchase


Tribune Business Editor


The Lyford Cay Club is moving to close a $17 million deal to acquire its old shopping centre from New Providence Development Company, with plans to convert it into a mixed-use retail, residential and marina project.

Details of the 12-acre Lyford Cay Shopping Centre’s purchase were revealed in the July 1 chairman’s letter sent out to Lyford Cay Club members, which said the acquisition would fit nicely with the vision held by the community’s original developer.

David Laughlin, the Lyford Cay Club chairman, said he had signed an agreement with New Providence Development Company back in March 2014 to purchase the property that sits “directly outside the main gates” of the ultra high-end community.

Recalling his comments at the time, Mr Laughlin wrote: “I signed a letter agreement with New Providence Development Company as the first step in settling on a final contract and purchase of the Lyford Cay Shopping Centre property at our Club gates. The negotiated price in the letter agreement is $17 million.”

He added that the Lyford Cay Club was “compelled” to purchase the site, adding: “We as a community cannot allow this area to continue to exist in its present derelict state or to be converted into something contrary to our community’s interest.”

Alistair Henderson, a New Providence Development Company director, confirmed to Tribune Business last night that the developer was in negotiations to sell the former Shopping Centre, although he declined to name the buyer.

“We are in negotiations with a group and we hope to finalise it,” Mr Henderson told this newspaper.

The Lyford Cay Shopping Centre has been replaced by New Providence Development Company’s more modern Old Fort Bay Town Centre opposite Charlotteville, with all retailers having long vacated the former location.

New Providence Development Company had previously looked at converting the Lyford Cay Shopping Centre into a mixed-use marina/condo project itself, but it appears to have dropped the idea in favour of a sale.

The Lyford Cay Club is not directly financing or acquiring the Lyford Cay Shopping Centre itself, instead creating what appears to be a special purpose vehicle, Lyford Cay Club Shopping Centre, to pull off the acquisition.

The Club will control the acquisition vehicle, with financing for the purchase coming from individual members buying into a non-interest bearing promissory note that will return their investment within 24 months.

As a result, Mr Laughlin was at pains to reiterate that no Lyford Cay Club member will benefit financially from the deal - the only beneficiary being New Providence Development Company.

“The Lyford Cay Club and its membership, while controlling the process, are not financing the purchase, nor will the Club or the Property Owners Association have any financial liability associated with the project,” Mr Laughlin wrote.

“The new legal entity, which will be controlled by the Club, is in the process of soliciting commitments for necessary funding for purchase and development of the property from individual club members.

“You, as members, should be very proud to know that living amongst us are individuals and families willing to put up capital, free from any interest return, to enable us to complete this transaction,” he added.

“A significant amount of money has already been pledged towards the project and we remain confident that will be able to obtain commitments sufficient to go forward with a contract purchase and the execution of our development plan.”

Mr Laughlin’s letter said the purchase would “restore to the [Lyford Cay] community some critical elements of the original commercial centre” designed by its original developer, E. P. Taylor.

Draft development plans involved retail space combined with “low density office and residential structures” to make the project financially viable. Ten residential parcels will be brought into Lyford Cay.

The deal will also give the Lyford Cay Club ownership of the Captain’s Table restaurant property and adjacent garage, enabling their renovation into a cafe-type facility.

This property is free of any purchase price, and the deal will also provide land to “address the pressing traffic issues that currently plague our entrance.”

“There are many stakeholders who have interests in the property, and we are working through the necessary processes to obtain agreements from all of them. That will require some time to get it right, but based on my conversations so far, I am very hopeful we will be successful,” Mr Laughlin wrote.

“I am convinced that Eddie Taylor would approve of our course of action. The Shopping Centre was the first part of Eddie Taylor’s development plan for Lyford Cay, and its return to our community will be most welcome.”

Returning to the present, Mr Laughlin said the Lyford Cay Club Shopping Centre entity was now “actively moving to completion of the transaction”.

He added: “Very shortly we will be able to offer to the membership pricing details, and the opportunity for members to contract reservations for four villas and six smaller townhouses with scenic views facing the harbour.

“The units are being offered to the membership on a first come, first served basis, and we have a number of members who have expressed strong interest sight unseen.”


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