Gov’t drafting new legislation to manage city center
Downtown retailers urged to capitalize on tourism uptick
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper yesterday revealed that the government has issued demolition orders for nine buildings in the downtown area east of East Street.
His comments led to calls from Downtown Nassau Partnership’s (DNP) co-chair that it is now up to downtown retailers to capitalize on the uptick in tourist traffic being generated by major investments in the area such as the Nassau Cruise Port.
While derelict buildings in the downtown area have been a major eyesore for visitors and locals alike, Cooper, the minister responsible for Tourism, Investments, and Aviation noted that the government is also tackling the long-standing issue by drafting legislation to support greater management of the area.
“This is not local government,” Cooper told reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting.
“What we are seeking to be able to do is identify a city manager. This may be a collaboration with the Downtown Partnership, they have been struggling for 30 years to try to manage this area. They’ve not been able to have significant, tangible results.”
Cooper continued: “They have made some inroads but their partnership did not have the teeth of the law to support it, to address derelict buildings, to address parking, to address the general beautification of the area with the support of the government and the tax dollar.”
The Tourism minister said officials have discussed measures extensively with the stakeholders as demolition orders for nine of the buildings east of East Street were issued. He called on building owners to make efforts to improve the exterior of their buildings.
“We are talking with the art community to see how we might be able to do some beautification work. We are spending significant sums for remedial work like cleaning and beautification.”
He added: “We are calling on shop owners to make their storefronts more attractive. We call on entrepreneurs to offer authentically Bahamian goods and services.
“We call on Bahamians to leverage this large number of tourists who are coming to The Bahamas to get them off the ships, sell them a tour, something uniquely Bahamian and the Tourism Development Corporation is prepared and equipped to assist with this.”
Downtown Nassau Partnership (DNP) co-chair Charles Klonaris echoed those sentiments yesterday as he urged downtown retailers to do all they can to capitalize on the record number of cruise visitors traversing the downtown area.
“If the retailers don’t see the results of all the tourists coming into the downtown then it’s their own fault for not identifying ways to extrapolate more money,” Klonaris said.
“We’ve had 26,000 tourists in port at once. That’s hard to imagine. We’ve done our part. We’re not here to paint the buildings of the landowners and repair them. We are here to give the proper infrastructure so it can produce results. You can see the results. They now have to identify their consumers and take advantage of the situation. There is major improvement taking place downtown,” said Klonaris.
Klonaris noted that the DNP has been advocating for some time for the demolition of derelict buildings in the downtown district.
“We have been advocating for that for a while and the Deputy Prime Minister has been true to his word and has done an excellent job,” said Klonaris.