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Jack’s Bay to eventually allow local investment via BISX

The majority Bahamian-owned Jack’s Bay will allow Bahamians to invest in the $400 million, ultra-exclusive members’ only resort, golf course, residential community and marina project through the Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) within two to three years, Eleuthera Properties Limited’s (EPL) Deputy Chairman and the executive in charge of the development’s investor relations Tommy Turnquest said Friday.

Bahamians are able now to invest in Jack’s Bay, though the company’s preference share offering was done through a private placement, Turnquest said.

“Those that can write six figure money can give me a call and we can have a chat,” said Turnquest.

 “We want people with $100,000 and more to be able to have an opportunity.”

Jack’s Bay made history on Friday with the signing of a heads of agreement (HOA) for the development – located in Rock Sound, Eleuthera – and is the first project of its scale owned predominantly by Bahamian investors.

The development took almost 35 years – from concept to construction – to be brought to fruition.

Franklyn Wilson, chairman of EPL, the company that is the substantial owner of Jack’s Bay, said Friday during the HOA signing that while the development is owned predominantly by well-known Bahamians and Bahamian businesses, they also found “value in welcoming some business partners from overseas — especially ones who had accomplished a great deal and also demonstrated an affinity for The Bahamas”.

He added that one of those foreign partners is on the board of Liberty Mutual and another is on the board of Amazon.

Local shareholders in the property include Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Star Assurance, BA Financial, Star General Insurance, CFAL, John Bull, Sunshine Partners, the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, the pension fund of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union, Rock Sound Properties and non-Bahamian owners with a relationship to the former Cotton Bay Club.

After having invested more than $100 million to get Jack’s Bay through its first phase, Wilson said, the project has no bank debt.

He said the development is now poised to be ranked among the best private, ultra-exclusive communities in the world because of its authenticity.

“Tiger Woods said this is the finest piece of property, for this purpose, in this region, if not the world,” Wilson said.

It was revealed at the HOA signing that the development was also eligible for and has been given the same concessions as tourism-related projects like Baha Mar and Atlantis. 

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who made remarks at the HOA signing, said Jack’s Bay will be the beginning of an “economic renaissance” for Eleuthera.

“This project along with others will help our recovery post the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“We have to be ready as a country to take advantage of when travel and tourism begins to return. The Bahamas must be prepared for a new world of hospitality and tourism. 

“I congratulate all those who are involved in this iconic project, which is being developed by Bahamian owners, including Sir Franklyn Wilson, who has shown tremendous tenacity over the decades with Jack’s Bay.”

COVID-19 caused the original March HOA signing to be rescheduled, though EPL announced the opening of the 10-hole Tiger Woods golf course last week.

As a result of the global pandemic, the development – which already has accommodations and restaurants in operation – was forced to reduce its staff complement from 200 to 100.

Minnis contended that number will again be ramped up as the pandemic measures are reduced and tourism returns in earnest.

Phase one of the project, which is substantially completed, features the 10-hole Tiger Woods golf course, clubhouse, restaurant, beach club, tennis courts and 18 club villas. The property also includes a bay, a lagoon and a substantial inland lake surrounded with elevations, five blue holes, a shrimp pond and a turtle preserve. 

Wilson said throughout Jack’s Bay’s 35-year history, the development ran into several bumps in the road, but the project was never shelved.

“The fact of the matter is, no one set out to complicate our lives,” he said.

“But things happen. The truth is, every time there was a disappointment, three to six months later we said thank God we had that disappointment, because what we thought was good at that point, three to six months later, turned out that that really was not what would have been best.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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