2013-07-23

Boutique Hotel On 'Radar' For $200m Development

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

 

A $200 million real estate development yesterday confirmed that a boutique hotel, while “on our radar”, was likely three to four years from being added to its product mix.

Zack Bonczek, sales and marketing director for Palm Cay, acknowledged that the “transient boating market” the eastern New Providence community will serve meant that a small hotel, or condotel, “could work”.

Speaking after he unveiled Palm Cay’s latest $17.5 million condo product offering, Mr Bonczek told Tribune Business that each new development phase would be valued at between $15-$35 million, ultimately taking the community’s total build-out value to $200 million. It was also likely to sustain between 200-300 full-time jobs.

Disclosing that Palm Cay had experienced “some challenges” in obtaining its licence to sell fuel at its 194-slip marina, Mr Bonczek said that facility was now “50 per cent up to speed” on its infrastructure build-out.

The developer, he added, had “just about ironed out” an agreement with the potential operator for the community’s restaurant, Chives at Palm Cay.

Mr Bonczek said the restaurant, which has opened for the past four Saturdays, had been a major “hit” with potential Palm Cay buyers and realtors, helping to introduce the development’s lifestyle and amenities to them.

With its townhome products priced between $499,000 and $849,000, Mr Bonczek said Palm Cay had few Bahamas-based rivals when it came to offering beachfront living, and the boating lifestyle, at mid-market prices.

Portraying this as one of the project’s key selling points, Mr Bonczek said: “Some of the communities click some of the boxes, but none of them click all of the boxes like we do.”

And he suggested that the recently-completed New Providence Road Improvement Project, which has alleviated traffic congestion in eastern New Providence, would only enhance Palm Cay’s attraction and aid a “rebirth” of the wider area.

Asked about the prospects for a boutique hotel component, Mr Bonczek confirmed: “We do have a vision for this type of product. We know we have potential for a resort component as well.

“Today, that looks like it’s on our radar. It appears that fits into the product mix. In the next three to four years we’d like to develop that type of product.”

He suggested that a boutique resort at Palm Cay could be introduced sooner depending on market demand.

In the short-term, Mr Bonczek said the development was concentrating on its newly-introduced The Anchorage condominium product, as is set to further diversify its product mix with the launch of a cottage-style product within the next four to six weeks.

“There’s a lot of property here to develop, and we don’t want to offer our finest property at the top,” Mr Bonczek said.

Chives at Palm Cay had attracted between 80-100 guests on each of the past four Saturdays, and the executive added: “Future plans for the restaurant, I don’t want to say too, too much.

“We’ve just about ironed out the details for the operator, as well as opening days.”

As for another key amenity, the marina, Mr Bonczek said Pam Cay was waiting on Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) approvals before it can sell fuel to boats.

“We’ve had some challenges getting a Business Licence for the fuel,” he conceded. “The BIA’s view is that as we’re a foreign investor, any other business than developing property, we’re required to have additional approvals.

“That doesn’t mean we’re not making improvements to the marina. We’re 50 per cent up to speed with the infrastructure.”

Construction of the marina harbourmaster’s office is set to be completed in four-six weeks, while fishing tackle and snack shops will also be added.

“We have a big barge doing some dredging, and we’re really bringing the marina up to proper standards where it can handle vessels up to 110 feet.

“The minimum depth at low tide is eight feet. That’s what we’re going for.”

Some 186 of the marina’s 194 slips will be available for sale or rent, with the remainder offered to transient boaters passing through.

Mr Bonczek told Tribune Business that the developers were working to a seven-year timeframe for Palm Cay’s build-out, with the project likely to ultimately contain “somewhere in the area of 350” units.

“What we’ve got is mainly townhomes and single family home sites,” he said. “We’ve done very well with the single family sites; out of 88 home sites, we’ve sold 60 of them.

“For beachfront in the Bahamas, the $800,000 price range is not that common. We’re trying to parlay that, and something we’re trying to ram home with people: It’s one thing to have their home on the beach, but it’s another thing to have all the commercial aspects of the community. We really tick all the boxes.”

Estimating that between $38-$40 million had been invested in developing Palm Cay and its infrastructure to-date, Mr Bonczek added” I think we match up pretty well. We’re gearing up slowly but surely, and working towards firing on all cylinders.”

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