By Natario McKenzie
Tribune Business Reporter
Tourism Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar revealed yesterday he is trying to engage harbourfront real estate owners over plans to develop and create economic activity in the downtown district, but acknowledged they were "very jaded" having seen repeated talks with government fall though over the years.
While addressing tourism industry stakeholders at the British Colonial Hilton yesterday, Mr D'Aguilar said: "When you look at downtown Nassau and the port of Nassau, that is not something I would not necessarily be proud of. The government is seriously underresourced to correct that problem. I'm thinking that some sort of public private partnership in the management of that port is probably the best solution. Now when you come onto Bay Street, that is another issue because you have so many different owners at varying stages of wealth. Trying to get all of them in one room to agree to do one thing is a challenge."
He continued: "In order to make Bay Street better, it needs three components, a living component, parking component and a food and beverage component. Right now, it has no parking component or living component. I'm trying to engage the owners, seven of them I believe. I'm going to start there and see if we can create economic activity and build out that space. You have to bear in mind the owners are very jaded. I have to rebuild their excitement about doing something down there.They have started and stopped so many times they are jaded about starting again. I'm working on that. That's one of the first meetings that I had when I took office."
Back in 2014, following China State Construction's acquisition of the British Colonial Hilton, then Prime Minister Perry Christie indicated that: "The developer has indicated its willingness to join in a public/private sector partnership with the Government and other stakeholders along Bay Street to implement an overall plan for redevelopment, extending from Arawak Cay in the west to Potter's Cay in the east."
Brent Symonette, now Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration minister had previously told Tribune Business that he and his family, along with other property owners, had provided the Government with various options for the boardwalk, which is supposed to run east from the British Colonial Hilton all the way to Potter's Cay Dock. He warned, however, that downtown Nassau's major property owners, his family among them, would not invest in the redevelopment of their landholdings until the Government gave them "the rules of the game". Potential changes to height restrictions on downtown Nassau buildings is viewed as one of the impediments. Current height restrictions in the downtown Nassau area limit properties to a maximum of four storeys.