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2004-08-18 15:55:31

Islands For Sale

The islands and cays, whose exotic names are unknown to many Bahamians, are among the most beautiful places on earth.

The islands of the Bahamas are hot real estate commodities with big-name investors and celebrities coming up with millions of dollars to purchase whole islands.

The point that some observers are making is that while there are 700 islands in the Bahamas, the most luxurious and pristine of them are not Bahamian-owned.

Movie star Johnny Depp has shelled out $3.6 million for his Little Halls Pond Cay hideaway, which lies 60 miles south of New Providence.

International interior designer, Wallace Tutt, who made a name and a fortune designing lavish homes for top celebrities, including the late Gianni Versace, owns Caribe Cay. He bought it for $3.5 million.

But there are many more of this nation's islands and cays that are on the market or have recently been sold.

For the wealthiest of the wealthy, it's their chance to own a piece of paradise.

“Three is a demand for private cays and islands in the Bahamas,' said George Smith, a local real estate broker at C. A. Christie. “Many cays are privately owned and are changing hands for high amounts.'

The concern some people in the industry have is that Bahamian real estate agents are not benefiting from the sale of the country's highest-priced real estate.

The islands and cays, whose exotic names are unknown to many Bahamians, are among the most beautiful places on earth.

The breathtaking 110-acre Musha Cay in the Exumas was reportedly sold for $56 million; for $350,000 per week, you may even rent this piece of heaven.

The 700-acre Little Ragged Island was recently priced at $11.8 million. Little Norman's Cay, which is 35 acres, was going for $4.2 million and the 74-acre Over Yonder Cay was priced at $8 million.

Another 35-acre cay in the Exumas was recently on the market for $3.5 million; Palmetto Cay, off Eleuthera, was also for sale, as was an 83-acre cay in the Berry Islands, which was priced at $4.5 million.

Wild Tamarind Cay in the Exumas was priced at over $11 million and Bottle Cay in the Schooner Cays, on the southern tip of Eleuthera, was on the market for $800,000. It is essentially a little dot of an island with 10 acres surrounded by beach.

Stranger Cay in Abaco was priced at over $3 million and the 3.5-acre Lobster Cay, off Eleuthera, was on the marked for $875,000.

In a new announcement, a group of South Florida investors has purchased Chub Cay in the Berry Islands for an undisclosed amount of money and plans to develop a multimillion-dollar luxury resort on the island.

The new owners of the private island plan to create a high-end resort, which will include a number of villas, a clubhouse, a 220-slip marina and other facilities.

The 36 investors bought the cay, which covers 1,000 acres, from a group of private investors from Texas. The transaction had to first be approved by the Bahamian government.

Chub Cay, which lies 140 miles from Fort Lauderdale and some 38 miles from Paradise Island, already has a 5,000-foot airstrip and a marina with 86 slips.

The marina will be enlarged so that it docks yachts up to 175 feet, setting up a new destination for international luxury yachts.

The investors, who established a Bahamas-based company called International Marinas Chub Ltd., to purchase the island, will not be alone on Chub Cay, however.

They will share the island with about a dozen people who own private residences there. A permanent police officer and a Customs and Immigration official are also stationed on the island.

Minister of Financial Services and Investments Allyson Maynard-Gibson, in an interview with the Bahama Journal from China on Tuesday, confirmed that the investors bought the island and have expressed an interest in developing it into a luxury destination.

“These are operators that are very involved with marinas throughout Florida and they are also involved with the Port Lucaya Marina in Freeport,' the Minister said. “They have purchased Chub Cay with the intention of designing a master plan for the development of Chub Cay.

“Their intention initially is that it should be a significant marina in the Berry Islands and they want to develop a small hotel and second homes on the island. But they have not yet produced their master plan.'

Minister Maynard-Gibson said the recent purchase is welcome news for the Bahamas, as the government has promised to secure a number of substantial investments for the country.

“It's great for the Bahamas,' she said. “We are looking at significant growth in the boating industry and of course the second-home market is one of the planks of our economic development platform, so we're looking at it in a very tangible way.

“There is an increase in the market and there are so many islands in the Bahamas that the second home owners find so attractive.'

The minister said the developers have promised to be responsible and careful with the country's delicate ecosystem when carrying out their development.

“We want to ensure that the beauty and pristine nature of our island remain because after all, that's what attracted them in the first place,' she said.

Rogan Smith, The Bahama Journal

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