NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said yesterday that government will implement a sustained plan for Downtown Nassau’s redevelopment, noting that the realm cannot “proceed to be a degree of national shame”.
While addressing downtown property owners, Cooper acknowledged that successive governments and the Downtown Nassau Partnership have worked in tandem over time to attempt to transform the town center into what currently exists.
“The time for incremental change has come and gone,” said the minister answerable for Tourism, Aviation and Investments.
“We’ve seen progress within the refinishing of sidewalks, the investment in art on abandoned buildings and a concentrate on a police presence throughout the daytime hours but the actual fact stays that the private sector will not be redeveloping downtown rapidly, and indeed often standing in the way in which of progress. For years we have now had incentives for development downtown, and while that has borne some fruit, there is no such thing as a query that the expansion of downtown pales compared with the escalating variety of cruise ship passengers who’re dropped at the Port of Nassau.”
Cooper noted that there can be over $700 million in investment into the downtown area in the following few years, and when coupled with the addition of The Pointe, that number can be near a billion dollars in investment.
“Nevertheless, it will still not be enough to remodel certainly one of the busiest ports of entry within the region,” he said.
“Our tourism is rebounding strongly. Despite our challenges we still consider ourselves the leaders within the region. The vibrancy of downtown ought to be the story our visitors tell to their family and friends after they return home. It ought to be a must visit destination within the Caribbean that serve because the bridge between Atlantis and Baha Mar, two of probably the most famous and meticulously constructed resorts on this planet,” said Cooper.
Cooper noted that the downtown area receives is poorly maintained and never adequately managed.
He continued: “It was thought that moving the assorted waterfront ports would spur development of living spaces, a boardwalk, restaurants and shops, but that dream has stalled. I even have often heard that buildings which might be neither pleasing to the attention nor functional to the town are protected as historical sites, and that will require laws being amended.
“I am told that outdated constructing covenants that limit the peak of structures are also an impediment. I foreshadow that, that may require adjustment as well. But given what we have now seen with the The Pointe and with other buildings, we will clearly see that exceptions could be made within the greater move toward progress.”
He noted that vagrancy issues downtown are being addressed by the police and thru amendments to the Mental Health Act that can be coming.
Cooper said the federal government plans to determine business incubation centers east of Bay Street with shared office.
“We’ve had multiple studies on the redevelopment of downtown, and the federal government can even engage the general public for ideas. We will implement a sustained plan that may out last me as Minister and beyond the five-year political cycle but consensus amongst property will not be required for the federal government to paved the way forward. Our city center isn’t any longer a hub for merchant ports and it isn’t any longer the epicenter of retail commerce it once was. The actual fact stays that there’s money to be made downtown.”
Cooper said: “Downtown must turn out to be the calling card of The Bahamas, not proceed to be a degree of national shame.”
“We are going to apply existing laws to administer downtown and introduce new ones where mandatory to have it restored, kept clean and supply a singular experience for our visitors and Bahamians. Government will look to work with the DNP to determine a statutorily empowered PPP entity to administer downtown.
He added: “We’d like you to repair your buildings and paint them. Revamp your store fronts. Make sure the removal of garbage. Adhere to signage guidelines and treatment derelict and abandoned buildings.”