Charles Pratt, Manager of Land Development for the Grand Bahama Development Company (DEVCO), revealed yesterday that the sale of land in Grand Bahama to Nassau residents was steadily increasing in comparison to sales to Grand Bahamians. He stated “historically Devco’s land sales market has been predominately Grand Bahamian, with locals making up 65% of our sales and New Providence, 34%. But most recently, actually since 2003, the Nassau percentage of sales has grown substantially and continues to grow.”
Speaking to the weekly Rotary Club of Lucaya meeting, in Freeport, Grand Bahama Mr. Pratt went on to highlight that the causes of this increase may be due to the Company’s increased marketing efforts which include more focus on the Nassau and international markets. In addition, the increase of Nassau sales may be due to Nassau’s overgrowth spurring individuals from Nassau to buy in Grand Bahama. The Grand Bahama Development Company Limited (Devco) owns the majority of vacant land on Grand Bahama Island. The Company is responsible for the organization of the master plan for most of the land zoned for tourist/commercial and residential use within the city of Freeport and Lucaya area.
Mr. Pratt also highlighted Devco’s current development successes and its plan to meet the continued demand for entry level and middle income housing projects within the Freeport / Lucaya area. “One of the more recent and major development successes for Devco was the Chesapeake development, a mid-level residential area with sixty-six homes now constructed, which included full infrastructure, required landscaped front yards and provided recreational Park facilities. The total economic activity created in Chesapeake was seven and a half million dollars ($7,500,000.00)”.
Devco continued its development drive with Lincoln Park – an upper-entry level residential development, which is 85% completed, and is estimated to have an economic impact of 3 million dollars ($3,000,000.00). But Freeport’s demands for homes was not satisfied and DEVCO decided to partner with the Ministry of Housing to create another “area”, HERITAGE.
“Heritage is a 400-acre site which when completed will be a comprehensive community with everything from single-family homes, townhouses, schools, commercial areas and an array of neighborhood parks” Pratt explained.
“When planning the Heritage community, executives from Devco outlined their development goals. The first goal was to maintain and enhance the site’s environment. The other goals were to provide attractive and affordable housing to the local Bahamian community; to create a vibrant and well-balanced community; to create a sense of pride of ownership among residents and to create a safe neighborhood. With more than 115 homes built so far, Devco is well on their way to accomplishing these goals. “ Devco granted the Ministry of Housing 84 fully serviced lots and to date, the Ministry of Housing has completed more than 80 homes in Phase 1 of the Heritage community. Currently the economic investment in Heritage has reached the seven & a half million dollars ($7,500,000.00 mark).
Pratt noted that HERITAGE was a new and innovative development for DEVCO. Devco was careful to maintain as much of the natural trees and plant life as possible and create an eco-friendly community that would be divided into eight ‘sub-neighborhoods’ by way of 100-foot wide natural vegetation buffers. In addition, Heritage is the first development to have underground installations for power, cable and telephone lines. Pratt commented that this project was costly for Devco, however the plan was deemed more modern and aesthetically pleasing and was therefore fulfilled.
For Devco, Heritage is a fulfillment of its late Chairman’s, Edward St. George’s, goal to make land available for all Bahamian’s that is affordable, safe and expandable. Devco’s recent priorities and focus have been on creating developments and due to the slow pace of individual homeowner construction, and vast un-serviced Devco is now actively seeking and entertaining developmental concepts for Grand Bahama.
Pratt concluded that locals need to consider investing in land, now. “In the past five years alone, the company has sold approximately 1,500 lots and has in its current portfolio 16 miles of pristine beachfront properties and 50,000 acres of available land. So yes, we have land but not all of it has full infrastructure. In our efforts to meet land sales demands we are increasing our inventory and have just recently begun to advertise the Colony and Pearl Bay areas to the national market. A market we now reach even faster due to our innovative website, www.gbdevco.com. It’s unique island map view technology and database land sales search options are helping us make shopping at home for land easy to do.”
Pratt closed his address to the Lucayan Rotarians by summing up that “ Devco is determined to keep its goals clear; to create and help maintain sustainable and affordable developments and property sales. And in doing so to make sure that we maintain the clean, well-balanced lifestyle that Grand Bahama is known for.”