By YOURI KEMP
HOPES were voiced yesterday that a controversial Lyford Cay condominium project will reflect “Bahamian heritage” and “not turn us into Miami Beach”.
Kim Aranha, a resident of the western New Providence gated community, told Tribune Business that the size and scale reductions mandated by the Town Planning Committee have made the development proposed by Eastmor Properties and its principal, David Dingman, more acceptable for other residents.
The Town Planning Committee is requiring that the number of condo units be cut by 30 percent, and that the height be reduced by one-third from nine to six storeys, to address concerns that the site will be overdeveloped. “I hope the architects will factor in a little bit of individuality in their designs and make it more friendly with our Bahamian heritage,” Ms Aranha said.
“I do not want us to turn into Miami Beach. I want us to retain our Bahamian culture. The four pencils in a coffee cup didn’t appeal to us at all. The height has come down. That, I think, is a good thing. I think it’s good also for hurricanes.
“It will also be a very good thing if there is a fire. I’m not too sure that with us being all the way out west we would have been able to handle a fire in a nine-storey building. The one thing is we must not lose our Bahamian culture because it’s so easy to get gobbled up by other countries.”
Keenan Johnson, the Town Planning Committee’s chairman, told Tribune Business that “after extensive deliberations” last Tuesday it had decided to allow the development proposed by Eastmor to proceed to the next stage of the approvals process provided the number of units is reduced by 22.
He added, via What’s App message, that the Committee also wants the height to be lowered by three storeys although it had deemed the development compatible with the relevant land use and zoning requirements. “The Committee agrees that the proposed use by the applicant for condominiums is compatible with the land [use],” Mr Johnson wrote.
“The Committee considers the proposal of nine storeys and 72 units to be an overdevelopment of the site. However, the Committee is prepared to accept a proposal of a maximum six storeys and 50 units. The above is subject to the applicant obtaining a Traffic Impact Analysis and a Certificate of Environmental Clearance.”
The Town Planning Committee’s decision now places the onus on Mr Dingman and Eastmor to determine if they can accept a reduction in the project’s size, and whether it can work financially with a reduced number of units for sale. A reduced size could also help lower construction costs. Some may also view the decision as an effort to keep both sides happy - giving Eastmor a way to proceed while addressing some of its opponents’ concerns.
Mr Dingman did not directly address this or the Town Planning Committee’s stipulation that the condo complex’s height be cut by one-third in a statement to Tribune Business. Focusing on the positive, he pointed out that the Committee had upheld Eastmor’s argument that the project site could be used for a condominium development and pledged that the developer will now move to complete the studies and other approvals needed.
“Eastmor is most appreciative of the decision of the Town Planning Committee, which has affirmed the use of its land as a condominium site,” Mr Dingman said. “It looks forward to completing the studies requested by the Town Planning Committee, speaking with community stakeholders and to obtaining final approval, so that building may commence.
“As well as the positive economic impact anticipated, these condominiums will provide a vibrant Bahamian space for people who wish to enjoy condominium living.” The Town Planning Committee gave the go-ahead provided that Eastmor Properties reduces the density, scale and size of the proposed development.
Besides the proposed development’s height, Lyford Cay residents also felt the project site was not zoned for multi-family dwellings. Ms Aranha said: “I thought it had originally been multi-family, and then it was converted to single family. My understanding has been that those lots were originally zoned multi-family, and the people who bought it voluntarily changed it to single family.”
The conveyance for lot 12 in Lyford Cay’s Block 46, subdivision three, where part of the condo complex is to be constructed, says the property as granted to Eastmor Properties is for use to construct a single family dwelling. The second schedule states that “no duplex house, apartment house or other building designed for occupation by more than one family with its guests and servants shall be built on any lot provided always that nothing herein contained shall be deemed to restrict the building of condominium apartment units designed for occupation by more than one family on those lots previous designated on the plan but excluding the hereditaments”.
Ms Aranha said: “I think condos are absolutely fine, but it needs to be done tastefully. I have no idea what the developers have in mind. I just hope that it will be done tastefully and I hope there is more parking. If they cut the tops off of their towers right now they still wouldn’t have enough parking space. I believe in Bahamian law you need 1.2 parking spaces for every unit by law.”