President of C.A. Christie Charles Christie has called for a review of downtown Nassau’s zoning policies, noting that the “shameful state” of the area is a result of “restrictive zoning”, which makes it difficult for development proposals to be financed.
In a press statement yesterday, Christie said the area from East Street to the Sidney Poitier Bridge is a “stark reminder” of the consequences of “neglect”.
He pointed out that the area has steadily declined over the past 30 years, noting that “95 percent” of the buildings are “unkept and shuttered with degraded exteriors adorned with a kaleidoscope of peeling paint and rotting wood”.
“It is no surprise that we have failed to maximize the potential of the millions of cruise passengers who visit our shores annually,” he said.
“Instead of restaurants, shopping, art galleries and other creative outlets for locals and visitors to congregate and find entertainment, the deplorable state of the area screams decay.
“No wonder our cruise passengers are opting to remain onboard and even when onshore significantly underspend in our destination compared to some of our neighbors in the region.”
Christie said the fundamental problem is one of economics.
“The high land values, particularly on the waterfront side, coupled with the restrictive zoning make any land redevelopment proposals almost impossible to make feasible for financing,” he said.
“Considering the maximum square footage that can be accommodated under the present zoning, investment proposals are unlikely to meet the feasibility requirements for institutional financing.”
Christie also suggested new height restrictions between 12 to 20 stories must be adopted to create more developable square footage.
To this extent, Christie said that a number of advantages would emerge.
“Property owners would immediately see an appreciation in land values, creating a number of new millionaires; the entire area would become extremely attractive for investment, as the resultant increase in developable square footage would vastly increase the feasibility of proposals and the potential for return on investment.
“Further, the change would facilitate the rejuvenation of the area into a modern City of Nassau within a decade.
“The charm and historic importance of the area extending west of East Street, from Government House to the British Colonial Hilton, should be preserved as ‘Old Town Nassau’ with the current zoning restrictions maintained.
“However, east of East Street would become a new, modern city center, a perfectly feasible endeavor, given the absence of any historic buildings in this area.”
(Source- The Nassau Guardian)