PM says ‘black hole’ east of East Street


Tribune Reporter


The Prime Minister yesterday branded the section of downtown Nassau east of East Street as “a black hole” for The Bahamas even though it contains some of New Providence’s most valuable real estate.

Philip Davis KC, speaking during a walking tour of Bay Street and the wider downtown area, said its eastern side - featuring empty, derelict and decaying buildings, some of which have already been demolished by the Government - must be revived by providing activities for tourists. He added that resolving its flooding issues will make the location more accessible to pedestrians.

“East of East street has been almost a black hole for the country. Lack of activity, both economic and otherwise, and yet it is perhaps our most valuable pieces of real estate in the country,” the Prime Minister said.

“So we have had a concerted effort to see how we can revitalise East Bay Street. There is a need to increase the attractions and other initiatives for tourists who are coming here in droves to be able to enjoy. Part of the problem has been the flooding.. they’ve seen much progress in that area, and so the work continues.

“We’ve been demolishing the dilapidated buildings going east of East Street. We are thinking of perhaps considering some kind of attraction that will include some cultural and other activities so that we can attract more of those persons off the ship to come and enjoy what we have.”

Senator Randy Rolle, the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation’s global relations consultant, who is spearheading the Government’s downtown revitalisation efforts, yesterday revealed that the site of one demolished building has been identified as a potential location for the Tin Ferl pop-up food vendor community.

Asserting that the initiative is making “great progress”, Mr Rolle said the Government has sent letters to the owners of demolished buildings informing them of its future plans for downtown Nassau. “Most” were said to be in agreement.

“It’s going very well,” Mr Rolle added. “Certainly, we have much great progress. We have been through some negotiation processes as it relates to speaking with some of our partners, who were the property owners of demolished buildings. [That] has now been completed.

“We’ve sent letters to all of the owners and stakeholders as to what the Government plans to do with the property. They, most of them, are in agreement. And so, in the next couple of weeks, you’re going to see a lot of progress as it relates to those properties where the buildings have been demolished.”

Mr Rolle said the Government has sent out requests for proposals (RFPs) for its downtown mural project, seeking offers from Bahamian artists to paint murals, which will make the area more visually-pleasing for tourists as they move east of East street. It has also identified the site of one of the demolished buildings as a potential location for the Tin Ferl community.

“One of the properties, we have identified the group Tin Ferl, who back during the pandemic, they were the ones who were on Mackey Street, and so they had a large following there,” Mr Rolle added. “We’re looking to put them east of Elizabeth Avenue.

“They have a huge following. Certainly, with all the cruise ship passengers and most of the cruise ship passengers now starting to head east of East Street, we think that’s going to be a great benefit. Certainly, we’re looking to have more Bahamian and cultural things. And so, giving the guests something to look at, once they would have walked east of East Street.”

Mr Rolle disclosed that the Government plans to demolish three more rundown Bay Street buildings and, over the coming weeks, many of these sites will be converted to green spaces that corporate partners have agreed to develop.

He said: “What we’ve done is we’ve taken the approach of a partnership. It is important for persons to know that of all the buildings that were demolished, the Government only, I think, paid for one of them. The rest were done by the stakeholders. And so that is something that we’re proud of, because it speaks to the partnership that we have built over the last couple of weeks.

“Within the coming weeks, you’re going to see a lot of the spaces now available filled with green space. We have identified corporate partners, and the corporate partners have agreed to assist us in the development of these green spaces.”

Many visitors, including up to 30,000 passengers that disembark at Nassau Cruise Port daily, walk down Bay Street but many complain about the area’s poor condition, lack of cleanliness and the absence of activities.

The downtown revitalisation project is aiming to give Bay Street a facelift through the installation of pedestrian zones, a business incubation centre, green spaces, a cultural village and other initiatives.


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