The landscape of Nassau’s cruise port will begin to change in February when the decades-old building that was once a customs warehouse will be demolished, as the $250 million redevelopment of the port by Nassau Cruise Port Ltd. begins in earnest, through its first $20 million tranche of bridge financing.
Mike Maura, regional director for the Caribbean and Americas, Global Ports Holding (Nassau Cruise Port’s parent company) told Guardian Business yesterday during a tour of the port that the area where the warehouse now stands will become the staging area for the materials needed to begin the extension of the northernmost berth of the port.
“I expect that in February we would see activity happening around the demolition of the warehouse,” Maura said.
“What we will see is the mobilization taking place with our construction teams.”
The extension of that berth will mean that it will be able to accept two Oasis-class ships, the largest cruise vessels in the world, but a small portion of the harbor near the berth will have to first be dredged.
According to Maura, the extension of that pier, which will begin before the end of 2020, will also allow the port to not lose a berth when it begins to repair the more than six-decades-old berth where the customs warehouse now stands.
Maura said that particular berth is in such a bad state that it will have to undergo massive renovations, as the ocean has eaten away at the structure beneath the surface of the water.
“Water is now flowing underneath,” Maura said.
The material that will be dredged to accommodate the extension of the northernmost berth, will be used as fill for the area of the port south of the customs warehouse that is currently used by the Paradise Island ferry boats and tour vessels. That area, when filled in, will become the site of the planned amphitheater, green space, marina and an area for local vendors.
“The dredged material that comes out of that then gets put into that cavity, which sits between the warehouse and Woodes Rodgers Wharf and that helps create new entertainment, retail and food and beverage space,” said Maura.
“It’s entertainment space is not just for cruise visitors. It’s for Atlantis visitors that now have a reason to come down; it’s for the Baha Mar visitor that now has a reason to come down; and more importantly, it’s also for us as Bahamians to come downtown and so it’s going to be transformational.”
Maura said Nassau Cruise Port Ltd. hopes to begin the extension of the pier by the second quarter of this year, begin work on the land-side by the end of the year, and complete the transformation of Nassau’s cruise port and the wharf by the first quarter of 2022.
He added that the contractor of record, Enka, has already begun reaching out to subcontractors to begin the demolition work on the old customs warehouse and the development of the pier extension.
Small upkeep projects have already been carried out on the port property to improve the visitor experience and the experience of the vendors and taxi drivers who use the area, Maura said.