Grand Bahama’s ailing economy received a shot in the arm on Monday with the announcement of another multimillion-dollar investment project. […] The New Hope Holding Company, developers of real estate and marinas, aims to build a condo hotel of some 120 rooms and a number of high-end homes in Freeport.
According to Chairman of the Board Erik Christiansen, New Hope Holding will also further develop the Lucaya area where it owns a fair share of land along the canal.
The goal is to begin the five-year project before the end of the year, investing anywhere between $220 million and $250 million.
Mr. Christiansen has however stressed that his company’s development will be “a little different” from others. “We don’t believe in the large, tall buildings on an island like Grand Bahama. We like to build more Bahamian-looking properties that would make the tourists who come and visit with us feel that they are abroad and not just somewhere else in Miami,” Mr. Christiansen told the media while his partner, President of the Lucayan Marina Village, Jim Goodrum, looked on.
Mr. Christiansen also revealed that only one of the company’s labourers requires a work permit. “This is not because we are do-gooders or because we think that thats how we should do it, but because it is simply dumb not to,” Mr. Christiansen said.
“Bahamians are good business people and why should we not have them as part of our workforce? They have been doing a terrific job of first class quality.”
The company constructed Grand Bahama’s Pelican Bay boutique hotel, which was recently turned over to European investors with the expectation that the property would improve the number of European tourists visiting The Bahamas, particularly Grand Bahama. It still however maintains ownership of the Ferry House restaurant.
News of the development comes one year after Hurricane Frances battered Grand Bahama, leaving thousands homeless and an economy still struggling to recover. According to Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, the very first property to be up and running after the storm was Pelican Bay. “This was because Mr. Christiansen took the position that it was no time to close shop. Instead, they were very aggressive in letting the country and the world know that Freeport and Grand Bahama were alive,” Minister Wilchcombe recalled. “He has taken this position because today he recognizes that Lucaya and Grand Bahama need additional economic activity. He also appreciates that tourism in Grand Bahama can be even more successful.”
According to the Minister, the tourism industry is presently suffering because of a lack of inventory. But he said, “There are presently 2,400 hotel rooms” all of which are doing better than what we have seen in a long time in terms of occupancy levels. Room rates are also doing better than what we have had in the past and that is particularly because of the film industry and the fact that we do have airlift that is servicing the islands.
“But we do not have the rooms we require. Rooms are down because of Royal Oasis and so there is a need for additional rooms in Grand Bahama so today is very significant for Freeport, for Lucaya and Grand Bahama as a whole and I believe it is a step forward in the new thrust of development required for this island.” [Sources: Bahamas Government]