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NPDC unveils $30M vision

The Old Fort Bay Town Centre, now rising in the West, represents more than just stores, offices and restaurants.

For The New Providence Development Company Limited (NPDC), this $30 million venture in Nassau marks a change in lifestyle for thousands of residents – and the beginning of greater community that will grow organically around it.

“This side of the island is starving for a food store,” said Marcus Grammatico, the vice president of Finance and Secretary at NPDC.

“But beyond that, we want to do something special. This development represents the ability to purchase the things you need and want in an appealing, aesthetic atmosphere to service the western community.”

Indeed, the Town Centre, which first broke ground in February of this year, is aiming to be not only a shopping center, but a destination for surrounding communities such as Lyford Cay, Lyford Hills, Old Fort Bay, Serenity, Albany and a number of other established or emerging communities in the area.

One advantage of the development, according to Jane-Michele Bethel, the broker and sales & marketing manager for NPDC, is to eliminate the need for long commutes into the center or eastern part of the island for these residents.

“There is very little in the way of shopping centers in the West at the moment – this will be a destination shopping center,” she said.

“The vision was to plan for the population growth of the West and to prevent the need for people to drive into the East for everything.”

Laid out over 21.5 acres, the ambitious undertaking includes a mix of retail, offices and restaurants.

During a tour of the site, Guardian Business entered through a new roundabout intended to mitigate congestion and improve traffic flow.

Directly fronting on Windsor Field Road, seven “pads”, or one-acre separated lots, have been prepared along the North border to house a bank, gas station and other businesses.

Bethel explained that four of the seven pads are already under contract.

Continuing along the road, more than 80 Bahamian workers were busily at work on multiple areas of the development. When it is complete, the centre will create approximately 200 new jobs.

The building you encounter first is Solomon’s Fresh Market, or the “quality anchor” to the project, Grammatico pointed out.

The supermarket, due to open before the end of November, has been the source of much anticipation in New Providence, as it promises to provide a needed food store with products featuring an organic feel.

To the east, the beginnings of a “commercial village” is in advanced stages of construction. Consisting of four buildings, the bottom floors will house everything from clothing boutiques, a pharmacy, restaurants, an Asian/European style furniture store, a liquor store, a dry cleaners, a travel agency, and an art gallery. On the top floor, offices for corporations, law firms and doctor’s offices are being planned.

Bethel added that NPDC is now accepting pitches from entrepreneurs interested in a spot in the new development, although space is already drying up fast.

The first phase of the “commercial Village” project, which includes just the first two buildings, has already been leased out.

Grammatico said the tenants will be allowed access to the stores and offices by the end of the year to design and outfit the spaces as they see fit, with the official opening expected in Spring 2012.

The other two buildings, containing a similar number of spaces, are scheduled to open during the third or fourth quarter of next year, he explained.

Pointing to towers being constructed at the end of the first two buildings, he said these structures will contain elevators to provide easy access to the office buildings above. Additionally there are laneways between the four buildings, which will be landscaped and contain patios from three or four restaurants.

“When this was designed, they wanted an outdoor feel,” Grammatico added.

“When people come here, we want them to feel comfortable walking around, sitting and relaxing.”

Meanwhile, the development’s Main Street runs directly down the middle as a relaxed, commercial thoroughfare.

An adjacent development immediately East of the project, which will be rolled out further down the road, will comprise a light industrial park including hardware stores and “things you need but don’t fit in with the vision of the town center”.

In keeping with the development’s holistic, community endeavor, Bethel said a further 100 acres to the south and west of the town centre is also being earmarked for residential development, containing a mix of high-end and middle-of-the-road dwellings. And beyond, more than 2,000 acres are potentially at play for NPDC for future projects.

All told, the goal of the$30 million Old Fort Bay Town Centre is to plant the seeds for a new way of life in the West.

“We don’t want to build a commercial center – we are building a community,” she said.

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