• Adelaide residents pledge: ‘We’ll fight it’
• Former farm to be multi-family community
• Town Planning ‘defers’ approval to consult
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Adelaide residents yesterday voiced fears that a proposed 163-unit multi-family residential project will “destroy the last peaceful settlement we have in New Providence” if approved by government regulators.
Rudy Stuart, an Adelaide Beach Drive resident, pledged to Tribune Business that “we’re going to fight against it” after the Department of Physical Planning unveiled plans for a March 30, 2023, consultation on a proposed 20.46-acre project by Adelaide Development Holding Ltd.
Documents lodged with the Department confirm the development would lie “adjacent to”, and in very close proximity, to the main Adelaide Village in south-western New Providence if it receives site plan approval from the Town Planning Committee plus the necessary environmental permits required from the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) via a separate process.
The gated community is targeted at a site that used to be the Kiral M Thompson farm, with papers showing the property was initially a Crown Land grant to that former owner. It would stretch from Adelaide Road, marking its northern boundary, all the way to Adelaide Beach in the south, while its western boundary borders land owned by the prominent attorney and conservationist, Pericles Maillis.
Mr Maillis declined to comment when contacted yesterday by Tribune Business on the basis that he was still assessing the development’s implications for himself, Adelaide and the area’s wider environment. The Department of Physical Planning papers reveal that the developer secured a site plan approval hearing before the Town Planning Committee on February 28, 2023, but the regulator “deferred” taking any decision in favour of obtaining residents’ views.
Crystal Hanna, an architect and associate principal with Bron Ltd, in a February 15, 2023, letter on the developer’s behalf to Charles Zonicle, acting director of physical planning, wrote: “Adelaide Development Holding Ltd is proposing to develop approximately 20.46 acres [consisting of] several tracts of land located in Adelaide Village in the southern district of New Providence.”
Noting that the site contained a 16.6 acre parcel, plus a further 3.86 acres that had also been acquired, she enclosed multiple documents in a bid to obtain approval in principle including proof of land ownership; surveys by a land surveyor; and copies of the proposed site plan.
“We are seeking to obtain an approval in principle for land use along with intentions of subsequently pursuing a demolition permit approval,” Ms Hanna wrote. Detailing the project’s components, she said it will feature four four-storey buildings each consisting of 57,000 square feet; three three-storey buildings covering 35,000 square feet each; and 11 villas featuring 1,500 square feet each.
The four-storey buildings will contain a total of 104 units, and the three-storey properties 48 which, when added to the 11 villas, makes for a total of 163 proposed residential accommodations. The development will also feature tennis and padel ball courts; offices and washrooms; a 13,500 square foot beach club house; 2,500 square foot service building; wastewater treatment plant; vehicle parking; a boardwalk pier; and amenities such as a pool and cabanas.
The documents lodged with Town Planning provide no details on the developer apart from naming Trevor Hiker as the contact for Adelaide Development Holding Ltd. Tribune Business made numerous inquiries and efforts to track Mr Hiker down and obtain comment from him, but despite ultimately obtaining a cell phone number with a voice mail that gave his name, this newspaper’s calls and messages were not returned before press time.
Online research by Tribune Business showed Mr Hiker was listed variously as director of construction for SMG, and also as chief executive of Summit Devco Bahamas and Apex Infrastructure. No contact numbers were provided for Summit Devco on its website, and a message sent to Mr Hiker via the company was not responded to.
The Department of Physical Planning documents gave no specifics on the level of investment proposed by Adelaide Development Holding, how many construction and full-time jobs will be created by the project, its likely economic impact or how it will seek to mitigate the environmental and development concerns that Adelaide residents may have.
However, the department, in a February 28, 2023, letter told Ms Hanna: “We wish to inform you that the Town Planning Committee considered the site plan approval application relative to the above captioned proposal at the meeting held on February 28, 2023. The committee deferred a decision in order to have a public hearing in order to obtain the views of nearby residents.”
Adelaide Beach’s Mr Stuart yesterday voiced concern that the project, given its scale and location, would change the area’s rural, Family Island-type character for the worse if approved in its present form. “I know I’m against it, and everybody I’ve spoken to so far is against it,” he told Tribune Business.
Mr Stuart said this stemmed from two primary factors, including the development’s potential impact on the water table given its location on or near the “last set of good fresh water” in the area. And Adelaide residents were already complaining about increased vehicle traffic in the area, which such a project with its proposed density will only increase.
“All that’s happening now is that they’re trying to destroy it,” he added of Adelaide. “It’s the last peaceful settlement in New Providence. I don’t know why anybody would want to get rid of it. We don’t want that area changed. The way it is, we’re happy with it. At least I’m happy with it. I live out there. Everybody that I’ve spoken to is against it. We’re going to fight against it, I can tell you that. That’s all we can do.”
Mr Stuart, though, voiced concern that Town Planning had recently approved a separate project nearby, Adelaide Pines, despite opposition from area residents. “What is the use of having a Town Planning meeting if they go against the people?” he asked. “Being against it is one thing, but then Town Planning turn around and ultimately say ‘yes’. That’s the hard thing.”
Leslie Vanderpool, principal of the Bahamas International Film Festival, and another Adelaide Beach Drive resident, said yesterday of the project: “It’s ridiculous. Don’t they learn? They’ve already been working on it. When you walk down the beach you can see they’ve been working on it. I guess people can develop what they want to develop, but it’s the size and what makes sense for the area.”
She added that she had difficulties with the concept of a gated community in such close proximity to Adelaide, questioning how it would serve the interests of residents and the general area. “We’re very much a community. We look out for each other,” Ms Vanderpool said. “It’s been like that for 50-plus years. These gated communities, they don’t look out for the surrounding area.
“I guess people can do what they want with their property, but don’t expect people to be happy when you’re trying to create a community that is larger than the existing community.”
The Adelaide Development Holdings project further highlights the increasing development and associated pressures occurring in western New Providence as businesses and families seek to escape what is viewed as an overcrowded eastern New Providence and Nassau. Some of the same issues they are seeking to leave behind could soon be moving with them.