Cable Beach developer urged: ‘Pay homage’ to Viking Court


Tribune Business Editor


A Cable Beach developer is being urged to “pay homage” to the existing building on a site it wishes to rezone for a mixed-use retail and condominium project immediately west of Quality Supermarket.

Shavanna Dean, senior assistant preservation architect with the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation, called on Friendly Pharmacy and its principals to incorporate “significant features” into their plans that will allow the original architectural style of Viking Court to “live on” even though it is not listed as an “historic resource”.

Documents filed with the Department of Physical Planning show she made her plea in a March 7, 2023, report on a site visit that was conducted by AMMC representatives accompanied by Friendly Pharmacy executives, Ms Flowers and Ms Newbold, as well as the latter’s architects, Marcus Laing and Kenyon Osborne of TDG Architects.

The visit, held on February 14, 2023, was intended to “verify the historical, architectural and cultural significance of this property” even though it was not listed on the National Register of Historic Resources because the development plans call for its demolition.

“After assessment it is believed that the building was built circa 1956 with additions circa 1984,” Ms Dean’s report said. “Though the building is over 60 years it does not have strong (enough) architectural or historical significance to make the case that it is not demolished. Artifacts such as drawings, letters, posters etc were found on site and are now in AMMC’s possession.

“We understand that a newly-constructed plaza will now reside on this site. It is, however, recommended that new plans pay homage to the existing building in some way by adopting significant features that will allow the architectural style to live on.

“In the Cable Beach area, older buildings such as Vikings Court are being demolished or otherwise lost. New modern building styles completely alter the overall appearance of what makes our country architecturally unique. It helps to be able to maintain some appreciation/appearance of our architectural and cultural identity when constructing new buildings.”

However, the present plans for the proposed Viking Court Plaza - as filed with the Department of Physical Planning - give no indication that the design or layout will incorporate such considerations. The documents reveal that Viking Court was acquired for $650,000 on April 18, 2019, by an entity called PAS Pharmaceuticals from the vendor, International Management and Investment Services.

Signing the conveyance on behalf of PAS Pharmaceuticals was Stephon Flowers, the late founder and chief executive of Friendly Pharmacy and Progressive Pharmaceuticals, and also a former president of the Bahamas Pharmacy Association. Friendly Pharmacy has three locations - at Cable Beach on West Bay Street, Old Fort Bay Town Centre and in Solomon’s SuperCentre across from the Mall at Marathon.

The plans filed with the Department of Physical Planning show a pharmacy as the anchor retail tenant in the proposed Viking’s Court Plaza. However, Jehan Wallace, the department’s chief physical planner, in a March 14, 2023, letter to TDG Architects, while apologising for “the inordinate delay” in responding to a December 7, 2022, application, said the Town Planning Committee had “deferred” its decision on whether to approve the project.

This was to enable a public hearing to take place so that the planning authorities could obtain the views of nearby residents, with the event presently scheduled for April 13, 2023. Mr Wallace, in a briefing note to the Town Planning Committee, said the developer wanted to re-zone lots 12-17 in Westward Villas subdivision from multi-family residential to commercial.

“The site is located on the corner of West Bay Street and Cambridge Avenue, west of the Quality Food store. There is a single family home with its accessory buildings on the site. The applicant proposed a re-zoning of all lots to commercial in order to construct a commercial plaza and a condominium building on the site,” he explained.

“The proposed commercial building will consist of two floors of retail on the ground floor and office spaces on the second floor. The commercial building is approximately 41,000 square feet. This building faces West Bay Street with access from that street as well as Cambridge Avenue. Seventy-six parking spaces are proposed for the building.

“The proposed condominium building will consist of ten units in a two-storey building. This building is approximately 11,416 square feet with 24 parking spaces. The building is placed behind the proposed commercial building facing Hampshire Street. Use along West Bay Street consist of a mix of commercial, multi-family and touristic developments.”

Mr Wallace said that while the Department of Physical Planning “has no objections to the mix and strategic placement of the uses on the site”, it recommended deferring any approvals until after a public hearing as this would be “in keeping with precedent regarding developments that will result in significant changes to the neighbourhood” as well as ensure all views and concerns were aired.

Mr Laing, in the original December 7, 2022, application, said the commercial plaza would have ten retail units on the ground floor, with the most central combining two spaces, and nine offices upstairs. There are to be three anchor units, and the total retail area would be 23,457 square feet, and that for the offices some 17,943 square feet. The building’s height will be 28 feet, with a 28 feet minimum setback from the condominium building.

The condo building, meanwhile, would have five units on the ground floor and five on the upper floor. “The goal was to isolate all commercial activity to the primary streets (West Bay/North Cambridge Avenue) similar to what has been done and exists at almost every other junction in Cable Beach,” Mr Laing wrote. “Social House/Starbucks/Palm Tree/700/Capriccio/Wendys/Marco’s/Swiss Pastry/Island Luck/Hoffers Plaza/BTC/Meze Grill/Sbarro etc.

“At the same time, with a two-storey condominium block we seek to create a visual and sound buffer and maintain the urban language, use and privacy to the residentially-zoned Hampshire Street.”


Flyingfish 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree we must put some effort into preserving our history, as well as the architectural beauty of this structure. Although I don't expect much when our government can't and don't take care of a building more than 30 years. Surprised parliament wasn't demolished yet.

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