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$10m Exuma Development Unveils Plans

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A $10m resort/marina project is aiming to create 50 construction, and up to 30 full-time, jobs on Exuma if it received the go-ahead from the government’s regulatory agencies.

The Marina at Hooper’s Bay, which will be the subject of a virtual planning meeting on Monday, will feature 11 villas containing 30-35 hotel rooms when full build-out is completed.

The project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), compiled by Caribbean Coastal Services (CCS), did not identify the investors behind the project or their sources of financing, and this newspaper was unable to uncover more details before press time last night.

However, in outlining the development’s potential economic impact, the EIA said: “This five-year project will employ up to 50 Bahamians during construction and up to an additional 25 to 30 residents for continuing services, which will have a positive impact on the Exuma economy.

“The project is expected to have a real estate sales value in excess of $10m. Additional revenue will be derived from marina slip leases, as well as hotel and restaurant income. The marina will be conveniently located within an estimated 30-minute drive from the Exuma International Airport in Moss Town, and an estimated ten minute drive to George Town.

“The marina is located on land directly across the Queens Highway from the former Bank of Bahamas building, and close to the Exuma Resource Centre, as well as other locally-owned businesses including Darville Lumber, Prime Island Meats, CNK Liquors and Smithy’s Market. Visitors to The Marina at Hooper’s Bay are expected to provide increased revenues to these businesses.”

According to the EIA, the Marina at Hooper’s Bay will be developed in two phases. “Phase one will include the acquisition of the [5.6 acre] project site. Also, the construction of the marina, restaurant, retail stores, roads, infrastructure (inclusive of underground utilities) and dry storage for boats will employ 50 Bahamian construction workers,” it said. This phase is expected to be completed in less than 18 months.”

The document added that the first phase was targeted for completion in winter 2020-2021 “subject to timely approvals”, but that timeline will not be met given that Monday’s planning meeting indicates key permits remain outstanding.

“The Marina at Hooper’s Bay restaurant will be open to the general public for daily operation,” the EIA said. “Anticipated Phase one expenditure is an estimated $2.5m.

“Phase two of the project consists of the construction of the marina villas (approximately 11 villas in total) which make up the 30-35 room hotel. The anticipated sale price of each marina villa will average $600,000 to $900,000 with total gross sales anticipated to exceed $10m.”

Turning to the spin-off economic benefits, the EIA added: “To further economically stimulate the Exuma community, the Marina at Hooper’s Bay concierge services will assist with local services that include co-ordinating taxi service by members of the Exuma Taxi Association, water taxi rides to Stocking Island (already in operation by local vendors), both in-room and on-boat food and drink service, private chef in-home dining, co-ordination of local tours and daily housekeeping and landscape services.

“The Marina at Hooper’s Bay will strive to make all services of the highest quality, with an emphasis on an ‘Out Island’ hospitality and cultural traditions.” There will be 27 marina slips able to support boats between 25 feet to 45 feet in length, together with two dry boat storage facilities.

“Other upland developments include a two-storey marina club (restaurant and bar with a pool), office space located near the marina basin, and commercial space with retail shops,” the EIA said. “The total square footage of the commercial space (inclusive of the Marina Club, office space, marina store and other retail shops) is an estimated 10,000 square feet and is not intended to exceed 17,000 square feet.”

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