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2006-03-30 09:27:38

Park To Extol Tourist Oasis

Planned developments could make southwest New Providence a destination on its own, luring tourists as well as Bahamians.

With the combined development of the South Ocean Golf and Beach Resort and the Clifton Heritage Park, Prime Minister Perry Christie said southwest New Providence could become a destination on its own, luring tourists as well as Bahamians.

Mr Christie said the Clifton Heritage Park, set to open this Fall, would greatly complement the proposed expansion of South Ocean. The resort, which is currently experiencing financial difficulty due to low occupancy, is located just to the east of Clifton. Last December, Greg Norman Golf Course Design (GNGCD) and the South Ocean Development Company entered into an agreement for Mr Norman to redesign and rebuild the resort's golf course.

The multimillion-dollar renovation is also expected to feature a new beachfront hotel and a variety of residential units. Mr Christie said the investors had indicated to him that they would be prepared to invest significantly in the development of the Clifton Heritage Park. "And if those approvals are granted, I would like to anticipate that substantial resources will be dedicated to the Clifton project, hopefully including the acquisition of the adjoining land and the establishment of all of the (three) phases of the Park, because quite frankly, the Park will add value to the destinations that they intent to create," he explained. The restoration of the Clifton Heritage Park began last summer. The Clifton Heritage Authority, through an act of Parliament in 2004, was given the responsibility for owning, managing and preserving the area.

CHA is responsible for the 204.41 acres currently owned by the government. The cultural resources within the Clifton Cay area include four Lucayan archaeological sites that date from the 10th to the 15th centuries.

Clifton is also expected to be of significant value to Albany House, a proposed residential community for the South Ocean area. The community will be located near the South Ocean Resort and is expected to feature about 500 homes, an 18-hole golf championship course, a Club House, a marina and specialty shops. With the completion of the first phase, projected for January 2008, the investment is expected to total between $900 million and $1 billion.

Golf champions Tiger Woods and Ernie Els are both expected have winter homes at Albany House, the brainchild of the Orlando-based Tavistock Group.

The Bahamas government is interested in the Tavistock Group because it controls the New Providence Development Company, which owns Old Fort Bay, an upscale 320-acre waterfront community near Lyford Cay.

NPDCo is the largest privately owned land development company on New Providence with approximately 3,800 acres of inventory, some of it already under development. Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcome said Albany House was of special interest to The Bahamas because it would help to spur economic growth in the ailing South Ocean area. "Because we spent a tremendous amount of time focusing on Paradise Island and Cable Beach, we have not been able to make things happen out in the South Ocean area, and so now this will help to lift the area," he said. Alex Martins, Tavistock's Vice President of Sports Ventures told The Guardian in an earlier interview that in addition to the Albany House project and Old Fort Bay, the company also owns major properties in the U.S.

By: MINDELL SMALL, The Nassau Guardian

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