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Palm Cay pours $20M into community development

Palm Cay will pour up to $20 million into development this year as it moves from a construction site to a fully-functioning community.

With a marina as its centerpiece, the project in eastern New Providence has already invested $40 million and has six residents on site.

Richard Browning, the CEO of Palm Cay, expects the population of the development to rise considerably this year. The community employs 30 Bahamians, but as expansion looms, he anticipates up to 200 jobs may be up for grabs.

“The more operational we become, the more the wheels start rolling,” he told Guardian Business. “When I first arrived here, we weren’t really ready to go to market. We didn’t have answers to all the questions. Now we are poised to have a lively and active community.”

First on the agenda is the marina. Browning said Palm Cay is in the final stages of setting up a fuel dock, and shortly thereafter, it will be staffed with a harbour master and provide services for vessels.

The marina will also include a small supermarket and tackle shop, he added.

But perhaps most significant for Palm Cay is the final development of 60 beachfront villas. Built in two rows, the stretch closest to the beach should be completed in just two months, Browning explained, with the other 30 expected to be finished in six months.

Calling this section of Palm Cay “the jewel in our crown”, the development hasn’t been marketing the beachfront villas, but instead wishes to have it fully complete to provide maximum impact for viewers. That said, Browning said several of the homes have already been sold to international buyers.

Of a further 80 undeveloped lots completed in Palm Cay, 50 have been sold.

The CEO felt this year should see the beginnings of more development on the part of investors as amenities and infrastructure are finalized.

“It is critical for us to have people living there. It no longer becomes a construction site,” he explained.

A children’s playground, tennis courts and a restaurant in the clubhouse will also be added to the community’s offerings by the end of this year.

Marketing itself not as a resort complex but a residential development; Browning told Guardian Business for the past several months Palm Cay has sought to engage the middle-to-upper-class Bahamian investor, rather than foreigners.

While international residents will no doubt make up part of the population at Palm Cay, Browning envisions locals as making up the community’s “core”.  Palm Cay’s close proximity with St. Andrews School, he felt, is an enormous selling point as management continues to establish more community links.

He reported a marked rise in serious buyers over the last several months.

“Today’s buyer is far more discerning. They’re more interested in the actual product as a whole. They want to know the details, everything down to the fixtures,” he said. “It makes it harder to sell. But you also get a lot more commitment from your buyers when they come through. You’re building something more secure. We want people living here with no empty homes.”

One challenge facing Palm Cay of late has been the selection of an appropriate restauranteur for the clubhouse. Browning insisted that “you have to get it right”, and at the moment, six residents on site doesn’t justify a full-time restaurant. Palm Cay is considering social memberships with nearby communities to bolster its numbers when the restaurant does open.

In the end, Palm Cay is targeting 350 homes with 194 slips in the marina.

A series of townhouses along the marina, each with individual slips, are slated to begin construction further down the road. Cottages will also be built further inland, giving consumers a wide variety of residences to chose from.

Prices start at $500,000 for a completed two-bedroom townhouse. A 2,000-square-foot beachfront home runs $800,000, with the most expensive property currently being planned comes in at around $2 million.

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