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Three new Bay Street stores by Christmas

Bay Street can expect to see three new “exciting” stores open by Christmas and a fourth by early 2014, Guardian Business has learned, generating significant new employment and “buzz” in the downtown area.

While insisting that the identity of the retailers who will enter the four stores is top secret at present, David Morley, of Morley Realty, told Guardian Business yesterday that four tenants have now committed to leasing the “1,000 to 3,000” square foot shop fronts available in the building on the corner of Bay and Parliament Street, whose renovations are now “95 percent complete”.

The Cayman Islands-based Dart Group purchased the property in 2010 and have pumped a large sum into revitalizing the properties.

“I know all but one plan to open before Christmas, and the other will do so in the new year,” said Morley of the new tenants.

This development comes after six months of delays which he attributed to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s slowness in providing a requested new electrical service for the building.  Part of the issue, he noted, is that the works would require electricity to be switched off to Parliament itself, which is opposite the shopping complex.

“The Ministry of Works will not issue an occupancy certificate which is required in order for any tenant to get their business license to operate, without that service being installed, but the installation should take place (today),” said Morley, who added that the electrical installation will also see an upgrade to the system that feeds Parliament itself.

Once that installation occurs, tenants will have 90 days from the issuance of an occupancy certificate to undertake leaseholder improvements before they start to move in and set up their operation.

Morley described the tenants who will occupy the four spaces in the pastel-colored stores as “excellent and proven retailers”, adding that he expects them to begin advertising themselves in the run up to the opening of the stores to “generate buzz”.

“It’s exciting, we’re so close to getting some of the stores open and it’s going to be some great stores going in there.

“It’s really taking an old building which was looking drab and decrepit and making it bright and bold which will bring careful balance by creating a natural draw to that end of Bay Street.”

The renovation of the property took around a year and during that time, Morley said his company “entertained just about everyone” in terms of prospective tenants for the property.

“It’s like any new product that comes online, there’s always going to be a lot of interest.  Bay Street is unique in itself in that it is almost like a chess game because there are a lot of long term leases, so you almost need to contact landlords to let them know that people are interested and to find out when leases are expiring…”

“The fact this came on the market and no one had to guess when it would be available meant that inquiries were quite significant, which was very encouraging.

“What did hamper a lot of the negotiations was the state of the economy.  A lot of people are still hesitant about opening another location on Bay Street, when pre-2008 it would have been no issue.”

Morley said that ultimately the economy forced reductions in some of the rental rates that were being sought by the landlords.

“We were marketing it at rental rates which would have been achievable prior to the 2008 recession; with some of leases we were able to achieve that.  Some of them depending on the size and length of the lease we had to negotiate and be more competitive.”

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