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More downtown property owners eye demolitions

By Fay Simmons

Tribune Business Reporter

jsimmons@tribunemedia.net

The deputy prime minister yesterday said more owners of derelict downtown Nassau properties have been approaching the Government since demolitions began to inquire if their buildings can be taken down too.

Chester Cooper, also minister of tourism, investments and aviation, reiterated that a demolition permit from the Ministry of Works is required prior to tearing down dilapidated, abandoned and unsafe buildings. He added that the Government also wants to "preserve the charm" of downtown Nassau and will not be demolishing historical buildings.

"So we are going to continue the process of demolishing old buildings that are not protected under the historical buildings protocols," Mr Cooper said. "What we want to see is a revitalised downtown and it's becoming contagious. We went through the process of demolishing two buildings recently and we're receiving calls from others to offer the demolition of their buildings.

“The one thing I would say, though, is that demolishing a building requires approval from the Ministry of Works. It requires a demolition permit. So there are some owners who are enthusiastic about this process and have opted to demolish, I would just caution them that this permit is required.

"We want to maintain and preserve the charm associated with downtown. Many of the buildings are designated historical buildings that cannot be demolished under the statutes so we have to follow these protocols very closely.”

Mr Cooper said the Government intends to create more green spaces and solicit proposals for new restaurants on Bay Street. He added that Bahamians have started to take note of the changes on Bay Street since the Downtown Revitalisation Project began.

"What's next is we're going to create some some green spaces," Mr Cooper said. "I'm excited about that. We talked with some market makers in the eatery space. We're going to get some proposals there for new restaurants and eateries on Bay Street real soon.

"That's going to be a big announcement that we want to share after fleshing out some of the details. We’re hoping to create rest opportunities and green spaces, and benches and picket fences on some of these spaces. This is only the beginning where we're just getting started, and we will continue to keep you informed as to the medium and long-term prospects of this project.

“I want to highlight, though, the small things we're doing are short wins, quick wins in the short-term, bearing fruit. People are commenting that Bay Street looks better and it smells better, and it's warming to the hearts of the team who are actually working on this project and I thank them for their work.”

Royal Caribbean International has now received approvals from the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) for its $100m beach club on Paradise Island. Mr Cooper said: “I’m happy to note that there's been consultation, widespread consultation from what I understand, and I hope that this collaboration will, in fact, continue.

"I’m aware there were suggestions. I trust that those suggestions will be appropriately considered as well. So I cannot speak to whether there will be backlash or not. Clearly some organisations act on their own motivations. But if those motivations were environmental, I’m delighted to hear that the Government has advanced the process to a point where the DEPP has been able to look at all of the environmental concerns and have them addressed appropriately.

“I think you should speak directly with the developers. This is their project, they will give you an idea as to what their plans moving forward are. They made a proposal, the Government of The Bahamas considered it, and I think that brings us to the point where we are today. There's been an environmental assessment on the project, and therefore they will give guidance as to where they go to next.”

Mr Cooper said Bahamasair has "incredible potential", and financial restructuring, technical support and a partnership with Qatar Airways is being lined up for the national flag carrier. He added: "Bahamasair has always been doing cargo to some extent, mainly between Cuba and Haiti. But this is an area of development that Bahamasair will look at. Bahamasair has incredible potential.

"There are some some issues. We regret sometimes that there are customer complaints. No more than any other airline in the business. But Bahamasair really is on the path for success if we are able to restructure a few things, get some new equipment. They ought to be really riding the bonanza of tourism right now, and people are calling me every day wanting to know if I can do anything to get them a seat on Bahamasair and I simply can't.

“They're running very heavy loads. They're doing extremely well with some financial restructuring, which we will do, with some technical support, which we will provide really shortly from Qatar Airways in a partnership we're building I'm cautiously, very cautiously, but optimistic nonetheless about the future prospects of Bahamasair and I hope to be able to talk more about them in due course.”

Comments

themessenger 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Loosely translated, da buildings owned by da white knights dem is all historical and must be restored at the owners expense. Da set owned by da black knights dem good to go for demolition and we gubmint, aka da taxpayers, gwine pay fa dat!

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