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Jennings: Full benefit of new banks to come

Three banks moved into their new homes on the rerouted West Bay Street yesterday, part of a $15 million relocation to a new Commercial Village that one top bank executive says holds significant potential.

President of Commonwealth Bank, Ian Jennings, told Guardian Business yesterday that while the bank incurred no real cost for the construction of the new premises, it was pleased to be a part of such a ‘breathtaking’ project with strong future potential.

“The full benefit for the banks will be perceived once the project is completed in 2013/14,” Jennings said.

He expects that even before that, however, banks in the area should start reaping the benefits of the beautiful new location and roadway, once the former route is closed off and traffic must use the new road on the new apron.

Now relocated and open in the Commercial Village are Commonwealth Bank, Fidelity Bank, Scotia Bank and the new police and fire station.  All of the costs of the relocation were born by Baha Mar, Jennings saying there was essentially a property swap and an agreement to move out of its old premises on the Friday the deal closed, and into its new location the following Monday.

Baha Mar’s Vice President of External Affairs, Robert Sands, confirmed that the cost burden for Baha Mar was a part of the deal.

“We certainly incurred the cost for rebuilding all of these buildings.  A part of our agreement was to acquire the land and the space for the foot-print we have, and to provide alternative locations and to rebuild as per the structures before.”

According to Jennings, all that needs to be done now is the finalization of legal work, which was contingent on the rerouting.

Bruno Styles, manager of Scotiabank’s branch in the new Commercial Village, said his staff was “super excited” about the move, describing the atmosphere and the ambiance as “overwhelmingly fantastic”.  Customers were already enjoying the benefit of ‘better flow’ in the area, which takes the thoroughfare further away from the hotels and their guest’s pedestrian traffic as well.

“It allows customer to interface with our services representatives more effectively,” he said.

Guardian Business reached out to Fidelity for comment, but was not able to secure comment up to press time.

The entire construction of the four new buildings was completed by Bahamians, Sands confirming that it resulted in the creation of about 300 direct jobs and 150 indirect jobs.  The work was done in under a year, as Baha Mar broke ground for the site on February 21st this year.

The local firms working on the project included John F Dunn and Associates for the Fidelity Bank facility, Osprey Developers Co. Ltd for the Commonwealth Bank facility, Cavalier Construction Co. Ltd for the Scotiabank facility, and CGT Construction for the police and fire station.

Sands said the build-out cost for the buildings alone was nearly $15 million.  He also said the West Bay Street traffic should fully divert to the new route around the middle of January 2012.

With the relocation now completed, it clears the path for the demolition of the old buildings to prepare the area that Baha Mar’s new properties will rise from.

“These banks opened for business today, and certainly the police and fire station and it now means we are in position to implode or demolish the buildings on West Bay Street to make way completely for the coming out of the ground of the Baha Mar superstructure,” Sands said.

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