* Several hundred construction jobs in first phases
* Waterfront transformation developer's first goal
* South West Bay re-routed; Stuart Cove's to move
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Albany is planning a phased redevelopment of its South Ocean neighbour that will create several hundred construction jobs in the initial stages, environmental submissions have revealed.
The southwestern New Providence development will first transform the waterfront of the former 363-acre hotel site via Albany West, which will involve the demolition of existing structures connected to the South Ocean resort and their replacement with a clubhouse, condominiums, associated amenities and beachfront lot sales to homeowners seeking to purchase their own real estate.
The project's Environmental Baseline Survey, which was prepared by Caribbean Coastal Services and approved by the newly-named Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) on August 5, 2020, disclosed that the construction workforce will quickly triple as Albany West goes through the gears.
"During construction approximately 100 temporary jobs will be generated in Phase 1A, and approximately 300 in Phase 1B. As the project phases are rolled out additional jobs will be made available," the document added.
Albany representatives declined to comment when approached by Tribune Business, indicating it would be premature and inappropriate to speak presently - a sign that the expansion project is still working through all the necessary approvals with the Government.
However, given the established track record and financial resources of Albany and its shareholders, which include the Tavistock Group, the vehicle for worldwide investments by Lyford Cay-based billionaire Joe Lewis, and world-renowned golfers Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, the expansion of the 600-acre southwestern New Providence has every likelihood of proceeding.
The Government, desperate to generate jobs and foreign currency earnings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will be eager to approve projects from proven investors with an already strong presence in The Bahamas.
And the development itself is a further indication that Albany, after several previously unsuccessful, is making progress towards acquiring the South Ocean site - which has been closed since 2004 - from its long-time owner, the Canadian Commercial Workers Industry Pension Plan (CCWIPP).
"The pension fund wanted to close the books on The Bahamas, and they made a deal with Joe Lewis and Albany," one well-placed source, speaking to Tribune Business on condition of anonymity, said. "They're taking the waterfront, the best part, and attaching that to Albany."
This newspaper was informed that Albany, possibly in partnership with other investors, is acquiring the whole of the South Ocean site, including the abandoned hotel and overgrown golf course. Any redevelopment, though, will occur in phases and no timeline is contained in the environmental submissions for when construction work on Albany West will start.
Among the features, though, will be the relocation of South-West Bay road from its present position together with utility infrastructure, while Stuart Cove's Dive will eventually be moving to Coral Harbour and its present marina filled in.
"The project site totals 16 acres of land located along South West Bay Road and South Ocean Boulevard in the western district on the island of New Providence. The site is inclusive of the former South Ocean Resort and casino, and the Stuarts Cove Dive Shop," Caribbean Coastal Services wrote.
"Phase 1A of the project entails the demolition of all infrastructure within the South Ocean waterfront property, inclusive of all above and below ground infrastructure on the property, minus the sea wall and necessary below ground utilities along South West Bay road (Water & Sewerage Corporation water mains and Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) fuel lines).
"The realignment of South West Bay road is also proposed for Phase 1A of the project, and will entail the redirecting the current road alignment into the disturbed forests north of its current location. Phase 1B of the Albany West project entails the demolition of remaining infrastructure at the evacuated Stuart Cove site and adjacent lot, and the construction of condo units, club house and pool," it added.
"This phase will also include the reclamation of the approximately 0.7 acre marina, and is estimated to utilise approximately 17,347 cubic yards of uncompacted fill (compacted volume 30,000 cubic yards). A golf cart path will be constructed to provide access from the current Albany west gate to the newly developed Albany West residential area and condos."
Caribbean Coastal Services added that the marina reclamation "will not include the entrance channel" and only the marina basin proper. It added: "The dive company has intentions of moving from its current location and will relocate its business prior to commencement of demolition activities.
"The [golf cart] path will follow the perimeter of the South Ocean Estates residential community bordering the existing Blue Shark Golf course." None of the documents mentioned what Albany's intentions may be for South Ocean's casino licence, which kicked in if the resort hit a certain number of rooms, which is believed to have been 500. That licence has long been viewed as the property's most valuable asset.