By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed that a planned housing programme geared towards young professionals will include certain exemptions such as waived customs duty on building materials and appliances and real property tax exemption for up to two years after the homes have been constructed.
He gave notice in the House of Assembly last night that a resolution to develop an affordable “upscale” community for young people in the western area of New Providence will be debated at the next sitting of the House. The government is determined “to make it a priority to make land more accessible and affordable to young Bahamians,” the resolution says.
The proposed development will allow people between the ages of 18 and 45 to buy 95 x100 feet lots for $50,000.
The resolution says the government will put in place all the necessary infrastructure so that the lots will be worth $150,000 once the infrastructure is installed.
The first area identified for the plan is 83 acres of land in the vicinity of the Baha Mar property.
More specifically, it includes “all that piece parcel or lot of treasury land containing 83 acres or thereabouts subject to survey located on the northern side of John F Kennedy Drive and the junction of Prospect Ridge Road in the western district of the island of New Providence,” the resolution says.
“The said parcel of land is bounded on the north partly by Golf Course Heights, Dingoe Limited and private lands, bounded on the east partly by John F Kennedy Drive, partly by Crown land and partly by government land, bounded on the west by Prospect Ridge road.”
The community, according to the resolution, will include walking paths, two parks, a community centre and a swimming pool. It will also be eco-friendly, “with minimal change to the existing topography of the land.”
As part of the deal, exemptions will be granted.
Custom duties will be waived on building materials and appliances and real property tax will be exempted for up to two years after the homes are constructed.
The resolution says the homes will need to be completed within two years of purchase to ensure the development is completed in a timely manner.
Dr Minnis placed the land plan in the context of other pledges his administration has made, saying it has expanded pre-school and opportunities for free tertiary education while trying to make the “Bahamian dream” a reality for residents.
“Part two of the Bahamian dream is to provide an opportunity for every Bahamian to own land and build their home,” he said. “Young professionals have always been sort of ignored or put on the sidelines, so we wanted to identify lands throughout The Bahamas for our young professionals and our young people.”
Dr Minnis said 150 lots will be available during the first development, 40 percent of which will be multi-family lots and 60 percent of which will be for single families.
“The equity is such a vast amount that individuals would not have to come up with any down-payment to construct their homes,” Dr Minnis said.
He added that for $1,000, people will be able to buy one of up to ten architectural design models.
He said to ensure fair play, a committee will be established to set rules and determine who will get the lots.
“We will introduce ordinance and restrictive covenants that you cannot repair cars in given areas,” he said.
Dr Minnis said flipping will not be allowed and that the government will be given the “right of first refusal” if a homeowner wants to sell his or her property.
“In other words, if you want to sell (it), government is given the first offer and government can purchase it at a slight increase after which it will be placed back in the pool for individuals to purchase,” he said.
He promised that more benefits of the plan will be discussed during the debate in April.
The passing of the resolution is needed to fulfil the requirements of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act.
Dr Minnis said a portion of nearby land is reserved for an official residence for the prime minister.
“I have no intention of building any or moving so I don’t want the people to think I am building a residence for myself,” he said.