Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis told Eyewitness News Saturday that Over-the-Hill business owners and home owners can look forward to government declaring their community a tax-free zone.
The brainchild of Dr. Minnis, an estimated $20 million has been earmarked for the roll-out of the Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership program.
According to the prime minister, the government is moving full steam ahead with the endeavor.
“We have made a commitment that this area would be a tax-free zone so we expect that this move will help with both commercial and residential development,” Dr. Minnis said.
“We expect that the businesses which will benefit from this agreement will become intimately involved in the community to support the overall efforts of the partnership program.”
Executing the massive undertaking will be a task force led by Nicola Virgil-Rolle, director of Economic Development Planning.
Virgil-Rolle told Eyewitness News that her team will soon begin the groundwork associated with the rejuvenation project.
“The Over-the-Hill community is bordered by Nassau Street, Poinciana Drive and Wulff Road, Collins Avenue and an imaginary line that runs straight across from Delancy Street,” she said.
“It’s quite a hefty project, but the government has committed $5 million per year to get it done. We see this being a sustained effort for the next four years, but because this project is so wide-reaching, it is something that can be spread throughout other areas as well.
“We are aiming to provide social empowerment. We will introduce poverty alleviation strategies and various ways to build community spirit. We will foster economic empowerment and also rejuvenate the inner city, beginning with work at the historic Southern Recreation Grounds.”
The Southern Recreation Grounds currently houses an historic softball field, basketball court, playground and other monumental historic landmarks.
The prime minister said he expects the multi-million-dollar venture to benefit both Bahamians and tourists.
“At one particular time, the inner city was a major tourist attraction,” explained Dr. Minnis.
“You had the Southern Recreation Grounds, where tourists come. Then they’d go even deeper into the inner city for the Drum Beat Theatre and the Cat and Fiddle Nightclub.
“I made a promise that we would revitalize the inner city and we are starting with revitalizing the Southern Recreation Ground; so that not only residents can enjoy and understand our history, but tourists will also be able to come over to enjoy a safe and clean environment.”
According to the prime minister, the government has plans to construct an amphitheater near the Southern Recreation Grounds, which will host various events throughout the week to highlight the area’s rich political and sporting history.
“This is one of the most historic parks in New Providence so, as we rejuvenate and clean the area and also deal with crime and safety,” he said.
“We see this being a major tourist attraction and people will feel more safe walking around and learning about our history.”
Dr. Minnis said the government remains hopeful that the rejuvenation program will not only provide a facelift for businesses and residential properties in the community, but also that crime and criminality will drastically decrease as well.