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Bay Street Owners To Fund Boardwalk

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Business Reporter

and NEIL HARTNELL

THE Prime Minister yesterday promised downtown Nassau's revival will have a a Bahamian "flavour", with Bay Street property owners to fund construction of a harbourfront boardwalk.

Dr Hubert Minnis, speaking after a site tour of The Pointe development, said: "There is a downtown committee looking at the entire downtown project, which includes a boardwalk. They have a very extensive programme and they will involve who they think they need to involve, but it will have a Bahamian flavour."

He was responding to queries over the proposal by China Construction America (CCA), the Pointe developer and Baha Mar general contractor, for a masterplan of downtown Nassau's redevelopment.

Tribune Business previously revealed that China's interest in downtown Nassau extended beyond the British Colonial Hilton acquisition, having presented former Prime Minister Perry Christie with a 'Master Plan' to redevelop Bay Street and surrounding areas. Dionisio D'Aguilar, minister of tourism, said yesterday that the "six or seven" Bay Street property owners will fund the development of a boardwalk. "We have already approved a boardwalk that the private sector is going to pay for themselves, going from East Street to Lucianos. All the owners have agreed to do that," said Mr D'Aguilar.

"The key component to Bay Street's revival is to make it a living city. Ultimately, you will have to build high rises because the higher you go, the cheaper it becomes per unit. You want young persons to move downtown. That's going to be a critical competent, and that is what that portion from East Street to Lucianos will be used for."

Mr D'Aguilar, in a recent interview with Tribune Business, said the boardwalk's construction would enable "foreign visitors to stroll along the waterfront as opposed to going down a piece of Bay Street that's extremely rundown" - a reference to the decaying condition of many properties between the two starting points.

Emphasising that the boardwalk will be "entirely" funded by the private sector, not the Government, the Minister added: "We are obviously looking at how to revitalise Bay Street, and a critical component of that is how to revitalise specifically the area from East Street to the Paradise Island Bridge, which is basically in a state of decay."

He acknowledged that the area, vacated by the shipping companies following their Arawak Cay port location, was now "dormant and underutilised", but said the boardwalk's construction would help to attract cruise passengers east, with the retail and restaurant component "to come".

"Obviously the private sector is going to drive this process," Mr D'Aguilar told Tribune Business. "The Government will provide the environment and necessary approvals to make it happen.

"The incentives can be provided, the real property tax rebates and the like, to get it going; to spark it. This is basically the start of the process."

Reviving downtown Nassau, especially Bay Street, has been identified by successive governments as a major policy priority for almost two decades. Yet little has happened to achieve this, apart from the shipping industry relocation, Pompey Square upgrades and some pedestrianised streets.

With Baha Mar now joining Atlantis as an additional attraction for both cruise passengers and stopover visitors, Bay Street and its Bahamian-owned businesses face being 'squeezed in the middle' as the 'poor relation' of Paradise Island and Cable Beach unless drastic reforms are undertaken.

A harbourfront boardwalk was on the 'drawing board' under the Christie administration, but the idea was never brought to fruition.

Mr D'Aguilar, as ever, could not resist a dig at the former government, arguing that its "grand", nine-figure plans for reviving downtown Nassau had "scared off" Bahamian and foreign investors because of the sheer scale of investment required.

"All these grand, visionary plans of the past government did not come to fruition," he told Tribune Business. "All the players downtown were overwhelmed by the amount of investment required to bring these plans to fruition. It scared them all off, and the last government did not see it as a priority. Nothing came of it."

Mr D'Aguilar said there were three components essential to downtown Nassau's revival. He identified these as residential options, creating a 'living city' by persons returning to live there; "adequate parking"; and improved restaurant and retail options.

"We need all three of them to revitalise the city," he added. "Right now you have very limited parking and no residential, so it becomes abandoned and deserted at night.

"We've got to create attractions for people to come downtown. We've got to create some situations to attract, to draw in foreign visitors and bring Bahamians back to downtown.

"The residential component is critical, and the property from East Street to Lucianos is probably where the residential component comes in. They will be more your young millennials looking for for experiences as opposed to going out to Seabreeze and living in the suburbs."

Mr D'Aguilar said the Government was initially targeting "the low hanging fruit", with the Downtown Nassau Partnership and Town Planning exploring what would incentivise Bay Street property owners to invest once again.

He added that establishing downtown Nassau as a Business Improvement District (BID), another option long contemplated, was among the choices being mulled.

"This is the heart of our city," Mr D'Aguilar told Tribune Business, "and this goes into how we deal with our port, how we deal with downtown Bay Street. This is very important economically.

"We need to look at how we're going to make money. If you look at the pressure to revitalise Bay Street, it's a mechanism to stimulate your economy in that area. We have three million-plus foreign visitors that come to that area every year, and if we plan to draw more expenditure out of them, we've got to make it a pleasant and exciting place for them to go."

Comments

Sickened 1 week, 1 day ago

Finally the boardwalk will start... or will it???

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sealice 1 week, 1 day ago

My boy no half ars measures fix the whole damn thing for all Bahamians.... please we had governments based on secrecy and hiding things for too many years - be transparent and make it for all Bahamians not more crap to trick foreigners into thinking it might be better in the bananas.....

Mr D'Aguilar, in a recent interview with Tribune Business, said the boardwalk's construction would enable "foreign visitors to stroll along the waterfront as opposed to going down a piece of Bay Street that's extremely rundown" - a reference to the decaying condition of many properties between the two starting points.

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John 1 week, 1 day ago

It is a grave insult to any Bahamian to walk downtown and see the number of foreigners working in the stores. And they don’t even acknowledge when a Bahamian walks to the store. But apparently there’re presence is making no difference economically as the number of stores closing is not small. But yes it’s time to do something with Bay Street as the waters edge is fast disappearing. Remember the song ‘What you gone do with Montagu?, What you gone do when she go boom?’ So even though Bay Street is in a sad state don’t wait till she go ‘ boom’ to try fix her.’

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Aegeaon 1 week, 1 day ago

Oh please... Bahamians had already turned to drug dealers out of their own free will. Foreigners are trying to make a difference.

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Sickened 1 week ago

While I agree with you John, I seriously wonder how many open shops we would have downtown if the foreigners didn't come in and open up these 'jewelry' stores. I think that most stores would be shuttered; the cruise ships would really be screaming that there are no attractions for visitors. We may actually be lucky to have what we have. Sad!

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 1 day ago

A good, sound idea by the government. As much as i would like to criticize it, i can find no fault with it.

Yes, a bit of public funding by way of reduced propert taxes - but no biggie - get it started...sounds good.

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juju 1 week, 1 day ago

John, She done gone BOOM on Bay St east of east street long time mon....and every Atlantis guest drives by the decay and the rat infested battle wired nasty properties. All Hubert Ingraham’s doing. Let’s hope that this gov’t and those property owners will do us right and pretty it up and make us proud of a new downtown.

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happyfly 1 week ago

A good sound idea by government !! The Nassau Redevelopment crew came up with this plan in 2003 ! The PLP agreed but procrastinated. Hubigitty screwed the plans up in 2005 because it wasn't his idea. In 2012 Perry allocated the funds but used the money to build a personal mansion in Atlanta instead....So finally, 15 years later with downtown falling to pieces, the people put it in front of a brokey FNM and say we are gonna pay for it ourselves

Halleluyah for Bahamian Independence and Government for the people by the people

Can you please relocate Gov. Publishing office somewhere else and make a cute little central bus terminal on that property so the Jitneys can pull off Bay St, while you are at it

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John 1 week ago

Juju don’t let ignorance fool you. You cannot take a country’s economy and fold it up and put in your back pocket for your own personal use. And that is what most of the resorts, especially the all inclusive, did to The Bahamas. And also the cruise ships. Only a jackass would expect to see Bay Stree clean, green and pristine if no money is flowing downtown. And you cannot blame Bahamians. They got packed up and shipped to The Town Center mall and Marathon mall decades ago. The saying is ‘you shouldn’t take sand to the beach.’ But also you shouldn’t come into a country and t’ief all its sand and still expect to meet sand there when you come. That’s piracy. Complaining about it is hypocrisy. Hopefully, yes, Bay Street will be fixed. And this time to the economic benefit of the Bahamian people. Not to be undermined by the foreign elements that lie to you about your own Bahamian people who’ll ‘t’iefing your sand. And the All Bahamian is drug dealers slogan is played out. The opioid epidemic wreaking havoc on America has nothing to do with the Bahamas or Bahamians.

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Aegeaon 1 week ago

Technically. Due to the Medellin Cartel/PLP alliance, we've contributed enough to cause the Miami Drug War in the 80's and we could have something to do with the opioid epidemic in America. Remember, with piss-poor police force and a pacified Navy, it's smooth sailing for drug-runners in the Bahamas.

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John 1 week ago

Go follow the money on who making billions from it,, then fix that!

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TalRussell 1 week ago

Ma Comrades, some you does needs undergo a reintroduction training under tourism minister - Dionisio James - why not classify 'tourists" as 'foreigners;.... when they both comes our colony islands different purposes.

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birdiestrachan 1 week ago

Real property tax rebates? at the end of the day the government pays for the broad walk.

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John 6 days, 18 hours ago

The opioid epidemic was a conspiracy between licensed doctors (yes PhD’) and legal and licensed drug companies. The doctors prescribed the drugs (opioids) and the drug companies supplied them. When the patient became addicted to the drugs the doctor continues to give prescriptions to legally supply the patient with drugs that eventually kills him. The doctor gets rich, the drug cartel err... companies becomes filthy rich and the patient is DEAD! You are sick to try involve the Bahamas in this. In fact some medical experts are now saying patients would have feared better if they had smoked marijuana as opposed to taking opioids. St least they would still be alive.

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