The Nassau Guardian reported on January 10th that 2012 will be a year of substantial growth for Schooner Bay Village, in which the development will go ‘from construction to community’, with an estimated $30 million spent on further infrastructure, new homes, amenities, and the project’s first businesses. Developer Orjan Lindroth and head of marketing James Malcolm provide commentary:
Major milestones this year for the South Abaco development include up to 30 homes completed, installation of infrastructure and the introduction of the project’s first businesses.
Construction is now booming with 12 homes at various stages of completion on the island and another four on the mainland.
Orjan Lindroth, the key developer behind Schooner, told Guardian Business an additional 16 are in the pipeline for the coming year.
“We should have somewhere around 30 houses this time next year,” he said. “Schooner will become a village, on the way to becoming a town. The heavy civil work involving the harbor is done so it’s much easier to see it move from construction to community.”
James Malcolm, head of marketing, called 2012 a “big burst”.
“Now we’re getting powered up with the opening of the harbor, and everything has been very deliberately orchestrated,” he told Guardian Business.
Malcolm added that up to 20 boats should also be moored at Schooner or more by the end of 2012. A fuel dock should be installed this year and Schooner is now the only harbor within 20 miles in any direction.
Less glamorous but just as essential to the development is the installation of infrastructure now underway. Electricity, water, and sewerage represent a major capital investment, Malcolm explained, providing utilities for up to 140 lots. Costing in the range of $8 million to $10 million, contracts have already been awarded, he said.
Meanwhile, a complement of commerce is expected to follow the housing and infrastructure boom. Schooner has already started to host symposiums in an effort to identity worth candidates for its first “12 core businesses”. Blackfly, the elite bone fishing lodge, has begun construction at the mouth of the harbor,and is slated for completion in January of next year.
Lindroth noted there will be four different food and beverage outlets in place by the end of 2012, including Blackfly, a deli and a general food store.
“We are very focused on food because we think it’ll be a tremendous driver for those to see and understand,” Lindroth added.
“With these four food outlets we want a representation of excellence in local cuisine.”
One of the more impressionable food and hospitality outlets for 2012 also includes the seven-bedroom Beach Club, Malcolm said.
“We’re putting a pool in, expanding the deck, building tennis courts and the building next door will be a bed and breakfast,” he told Guardian Business.
Beginning this year, Schooner is also offering weekend packages for prospective investors to check out Schooner for themselves and stay at the accommodations.
“This is really intended to be sales driven, but it’s also intended to give them the chance to experience the place, not to do the tour, so to speak,” he said.
Malcolm said the development has “literally come to life” as residents move into their homes.
The Tribune reports that the new 51,000 sq. ft. multi-million dollar Abaco Airport Terminal, Air Traffic Control Tower, and Fire/Crash Rescue Facility are expected to be completed in 2012:
The Prime Minister with cabinet ministers flew to Abaco yesterday to officially sign a $27 million contract to construct the new Marsh Harbour airport terminal…
Mr Ingraham said Central Abaco should be recognised as an important economic centre in the Bahamas.
“The continued development of various industries on this island over the years places Abaco in a favourable position for further growth,” he said.
The multi-million dollar contract was awarded to FES Construction Company Limited, which is expected to complete the project in a little over a year. “The Government is committed to ensuring that Central Abaco has the infrastructure befitting its stature,” said Mr Ingraham…
The Prime Minister also announced that before the end of this year construction will begin on a new hospital and road to connect to the S.C. Bootle Highway and Forest Drive.
Works Minister Neko Grant said that with a population increase of 21 per cent since 2000 and the considerable developments in numerous industries, Abaco is in a good position for further growth when the economy turns around.
“The airport terminal project will further enhance Marsh Harbour Airport’s capacity to provide quality service to the growing number of residents as well as visitors to this island who will use this facility,” said Mr Grant…
The 51,000 sq ft terminal will include 22 counter positions, state-of-the-art luggage scanning system, pilot briefing room, two restaurants, a lounge, VIP lounge, eight retail shop spaces, two kiosks, long and short term parking areas along with taxi and employee parking areas, said Mr Grant.
Abaco debuted on Travel & Leisure’s prestigious “World’s Best” list this year, placing 2nd in the Best Islands in the Caribbean category, and missing first place by under half a point.
The World’s Best Awards have been running annually for 16 years and are widely regarded as an essential guide of traveler’s trending preferences for the most desired locations worldwide and the companies best suited to carry them there. The results for best islands are based on reader’s responses to the following criteria: natural attractions, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people, value.
In a summary of the findings, editor in chief Nancy Novogrod stated that it is clear based on the results that “places that convey a sense of authenticity and adventure are ruling the day once again in Travel & Leisure’s World’s Best Awards”.
The results of the survey are presently listed on Travel & Leisure’s website, and in the cover story of the August issue of the magazine, on newsstands as of July 22. They will also be featured in the first-ever World’s Best Awards 2011 interactive iPad edition.
As Southern Abaco continues to develop, with the official opening of Schooner Bay Village’s Harbour in June, and continued progress at Serenity Point, it’s only a matter of time before Abaco takes first place!
Residential and commercial real estate developments in South Abaco have expanded steadily over the past two years. Despite the residual effects of the global economic and financial downturn, The Bahamas’ domestic economic conditions stabilized during 2010, with the economy expected to grow by 2% to 2.5% in 2011, according to Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, in his address to the 2011 Bahamas Business Outlook.
The past year clearly demonstrated South Abaco as an environment favorable to the strengthening and diversification of the nation’s economy:
The community is designed for luxury using the latest in sustainable technology, with features such as:
Design techniques that save energy and preserve water
Solar-powered golf carts
Indigenous tropical landscaping
OceanHome Magazine highlighted Serenity Point as a Development of the Month, Publisher’s Choice. And The Bahamas Investor covered Serenity Point’s development as an example of the resurgence currently being enjoyed by Abaco—one of the fastest growing islands in The Bahamas.
With work steadily underway at Serenity Point and the neighbouring commercial center of Schooner Bay Village, the community is looking forward to another year of growth and prosperity in South Abaco.
Abaco’s growth and prosperity continue to climb in yet another noteworthy series of development milestones.
Airlift acquisition targets Out Islands Bahamas Tribune
US-based AvStar Aviation is hoping to open up airlift to Abaco from West Palm Beach by year-end, in a bid to expand the operations of recently-acquired Twin Air Calypso, which has serviced the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale for more than 50 years … the new service—frequently travelled by West Palm and Abaco residents—could deliver 100 individuals to Abaco four days per week through scheduled service.
Abaco to get community hospital The Freeport News
The Ministry of Health is placing greater focus on the medical needs of family island patients and plans to construct two new state-of-the-art community hospitals on Abaco and Exuma. The community hospital on Abaco will make it much easier for residents to gain access to medical care and in many cases, avoid having to travel to New Providence.
Maxwell’s Grocery re-opens in Marsh Harbour Bahama Islands Info
When the popular Maxwell’s Grocery burned down on the night of July 21st 2008 many wondered if this was the end. But on August 13th a brand-new, sparkling, and spacious Maxwell’s re-opened in Marsh Harbour to rave reviews.
38% Crown Land revenue increase Bahamas Tribune
“The Parcel Information Management System (PIMS) is fully being implemented and will contribute to the efficient functioning of the local land markets in support of private sector development, including facilitation of foreign investment, thereby contributing directly to the objectives of the bank’s strategy for the Bahamas,” the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said. “Geographic profiles of Andros, Inagua and Abaco represent a good point of departure for land use and natural resources management.”
Travel Off the Cuff – Expect the Unexpected on Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island The Province
Like fly-fishing southern Alberta’s Bow River, flats fishing off Great Abaco, the Bahamas’ third-largest island, is also world class, says avid Calgary fly fisherman Dave Byler … Excellent fishing is just one reason the retired Suncor Energy vice-president and wife Carol decided to invest in emerging Schooner Bay Harbour Village in southern Great Abaco.
Contract signed for architectural design of Marsh Harbour Airport Terminal Nassau Guardian
Public Works and Transport Minister the Hon. Neko C. Grant signed a $600,000 contract with the Architects Incorporated Company for the architectural design of the Marsh Harbour Airport terminal building and fire/crash facility. The current 3,315 square foot building will be replaced with a new 24,000 square foot single-storey terminal and fire crash facility immediately west of the existing terminal.
Furniture Plus announces the opening of its beautiful third home in Abaco Bahama Islands Info
The walls are freshly painted. The furniture boutiques are all in place. Shiny rows of appliances stand at attention. And the doors to the newest Furniture Plus location at Maxwell’s Plaza in Marsh Harbour are open … With all newly-hired Abaconians manning the richly appointed 20,000 square foot showroom and shoppers excitedly streaming in, there is no sign of an economic downturn anywhere to be seen.
“A long-term investment in Bahamian real estate is considered one of the best options in the world, as the country is listed as one of the top 20 places to purchase property,” reports Jammal Smith, in the Guardian.
GlobalPropertyGuide.com, one of the largest real estate websites, notes that Bahamian advantages include a “stable economy and government, pro-landlord rental market, minimal property taxation and moderate rental yields.”
The Bahamas is the only Caribbean nation to receive a four-star rating on long-term investments.
The country, renowned for its celebrity crowd, including Shakira, Johnny Depp, John Travolta, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey and Eddie Murphy, reports the most athletes and other famous individuals purchasing homes in the country.
Former President of the Bahamas Real Estate Association William Wong notes that the country is an ideal location for potential home buyers because of its location, “it’s next door to North America and [not far] from New York and Toronto.”
An estimated 200,000 passengers pass through the Marsh Harbour airport every year, and more is expected as the new architectural design and expansion are brought to completion.
The Marsh Harbour airport project follows completion of a new 6,100 ft jet runway, conversion of the original runway into a jet taxi-way, and installation of new signage and lighting.
Infrastructure developments as well as real estate developments continue to stimulate more interest from foreign investors and tourism-related construction projects.
In January, Serenity Point published “Diving the Blue Holes of Abaco” about the fossil discovery in 2004 that led National Geographic to fund an exploration of Abaco’s blue holes and caves. Now the August 2010 issue of National Geographic reveals their most recent research and photography from their exploration.
The numerous caves and sinkholes in the Bahamas, and especially on Abaco, occasionally reach depths of 300 feet, representing the lowest sea level from the Pleistocene Ice Age. They yield a scientific trove that may even shed light on life before this time. Yet they are extremely dangerous to explore due to the depths.
The PHOTO OF THE MONTH by Wes C. Skiles, from the August 2010 story “Bahamas Caves.”
The Cascade Room, some 80 feet beneath the surface, leads divers deeper into Dan's Cave on Abaco Island.
Reel Breaker Blue Hole
Starfish Blue Hole 1
Starfish Blue Hole 2
Glen’s Blue Hole North
Glen’s Blue Hole South
Quarry Blue Hole
Crossing Rocks Blue Hole
Little Vortex Blue Hole
Canal Blue Hole
Unfu-fu Blue Hole
Nowhere Blue Hole
Stingray Blue Hole
Stumble Blue Hole
To get a sense of diving a Blue Hole, watch Marc Laukien’s 16 minute video of cave diving in Dan’s Cave and Ralph’s Cave, Abaco, Bahamas.
Canadian companies have an added incentive to set up regional headquarters in The Bahamas thanks to a new Tax Information Exchange Agreement signed on Thursday, June 17, 2010.
Signatories to the TIEA were Mr. Symonette and His Excellency Stephen Hallihan, High Commissioner for Canada to The Bahamas, in a ceremony at the House of Assembly Majority Room.
It was the 22nd tax information exchange agreement signed by The Bahamas; 16 with Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries and 9 with members of the G20 countries. This one is a little different in that it contains elements similar to that of a double tax agreement which nations with income taxes generally sign.
“Signing the TIEA, Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette said: ‘Once this agreement enters into force it will extend exempt surplus treatment to dividends paid to a Canadian parent corporation by its foreign affiliates resident and carrying on business in The Bahamas, allowing such dividends to be exempted from tax in Canada’” (The Bahamas Weekly).
The new Agreement is one of many longstanding economic links between The Bahamas and Canada, and is one of the best in terms of providing reciprocal economic and trade benefits, particularly in financial services, tourism, construction and the hospitality sectors. It also places the country on equal footing with Barbados in terms of “double tax” benefits.
Currently, major Canadian-owned banks, especially FirstCaribbean, have their regional headquarters domiciled in Barbados, largely because of that nation’s “double tax” treaty with their homeland. The treaty ensures their profits are only taxed once – at the lower Barbadian rate – rather than at the higher Canadian thresholds, and has acted as a major draw for Canadian companies seeking to do business in the region to establish their bases there. (The Tribune)
High Commissioner to Canada Stephen Hallihan said, “Canada is very pleased to be signing this exchange agreement with The Government of The Bahamas. It will, quite simply, make our taxation regimes more transparent, more effective and it will allow both countries to actually more effectively implement the tax systems that we have in place” (The Bahamas Weekly).
The Bahamas has previous Tax Information Exchange Agreements with the United States of America, Principality of Monaco, Republic of San Marino, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and People’s Republic of China, Argentina, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Mexico, Denmark, The Faroes, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Australia, and Germany.
And, on the same day of the signing of the TIEA, the Bahamas financial services industry held a briefing for its members on the latest development and amendments to The Bahamas and United States TIEA Act and Regulations, namely:
The International Tax Cooperation Act, 2010
The International Tax Cooperation Regulations, 2010
The Bahamas and the United States Tax Information Exchange Agreement (Amendment) Act, 2010
The Bahamas and the United States Tax Information Exchange Agreement (Amendment) Regulations, 2010
The Government of The Bahamas’ expanding network for tax information exchange proves The Bahamas’ ability to benefit from the changing global regulatory environment and enjoy continued growth in its international business industry.
Great Abaco’s south side is primed for a major economic boost with groundbreaking on two beach-side sister developments on the five-mile long Schooner Bay Beach, Abaco.
With the unbroken stretch of beach as a prime draw for potential home owners, Serenity Point has taken measures to ensure a light development footprint.
According to Eric Carey, Bahamas National Trust president, the beach is not only lovely for human activity, it is a prime turtle nesting ground. Hence, “[Serenity Point] has committed to keeping lights off the beach. They have also committed to using as much native vegetation as possible; taking out the few casuarinas that are there. They say they will commit to keeping the dune intact because this beach profile is entirely dependent on this dune being intact,” he said.
The article notes that the same commitments were secured from the neighboring Schooner Bay development, which ensures that this whole area is sustainable and environmentally sound.
In addition to the shared beach, both projects have one major element in common. They are fully self-financed by private investors.
Regarding Serenity Point, the Nihon family has owned large tracks of land in Abaco since the 1960s. Asked about the timing of the development, Mr Nihon II said: “We have a wonderful team, so we are going to gradually grow. It is going to take time, so watch what will happen in the next two or three years.”
The Nassau Guardian reported that two government contracts have been given the go ahead, which brings into Abaco and Freeport millions of dollars of investment.
For Abaco, that contract is for the construction of a $19.2 million 64,390 sq.ft. government office complex. Almost 300 construction jobs are likely to result from this project which will also create additional spin off jobs in the economy.
Director of the National Insurance Board, Algernon Cargill, which has financed both the Abaco and Freeport projects, said that the developments represented a sound investment by the national fund.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham travelled to Marsh Harbour, Abaco, to witness the signing of the contract to build the new National Insurance Board headquarters, part of a wider plan to kickstart the economy of the area.
At that ceremony he said: “We determined to place this new administrative complex on a green site so as to represent the commencement of the development of a new township in Central Abaco.
“We expect that the concentration of government offices, and hence services in this location will spur the development of commerce making the area the principal point of commerce in Central Abaco.”
In addition to the government administrative complex, space is allocated for the development of other important public facilities including a police and fire station, a community hospital, a court complex and a public library. Plus, commercial space is set aside to accommodate a bank and other commercial facilities and enterprises.
Keeping with Abaco’s sustainable interests, the new township will have ample, open, green space, with areas reserved for passive enjoyment, as well as recreational activities.
“As Abaco’s economy continues to strengthen and grow I expect that persons from around The Bahamas will continue to come to work and live among us here in Abaco,” said the PM.