The sorry state of Downtown Nassau
The government needs to give more attention to major deterioration to parts of our principal street, Bay Street.
Two decades ago the Downtown Nassau Partnership, a public/private entity, spearheaded an initiative to ensure the preservation of the historic character and charm of Old Nassau.
The initiative bore some fruit. Real success, however, has been sporadic and not nearly what was hoped for, thus far.
Legislation exists to incentivize the upgrade of privately owned properties in the city center – commercial and residential. Similar concessions were recently put in place for defined areas Over-the-Hill. And, commercial shipping was moved from Bay Street to an enlarged Arawak Cay.
A small number of commercial properties took advantage of the incentives to renovate their properties; a new arcade was constructed at the junction of Elizabeth Avenue and Bay Street.
There are also developments under construction such as The Pointe, and others soon to start. The Central Bank has chosen Victoria Gardens as the site for its new headquarters; the government has committed to demolishing the old post office at East Hill Street and erecting a new Supreme Court; the Americans are building a new embassy at Shirley Street near East Street; Global Ports Holding was selected to manage and transform Prince George Wharf, the gateway to the Port of Nassau.
If these projects are all completed the city center would be much improved.
Private properties east of East Street, however, are mostly in very poor condition, as is the case with publicly owned properties in the city.
The government has allowed the western end of Arawak Cay to become a dump – the repository of rusted and other dilapidated boats that sully the vista of the cay from West Bay Street and Saunders Beach. And, the storage of oversized boulders is again being permitted on the downtown waterfront just east of the junction of Bay Street and Victoria Avenue.
The government’s renovations to a number of its city office complexes – the building on East Hill Street that previously housed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and another building on George Street meant to accommodate the Ministry of Tourism (Bolam Bank Building) – seem to have stalled. Yet another building on Bank Lane – the Ansbacher Building – acquired to accommodate additional courts and the registry underwent repairs and is now partially occupied, but officials complain that conditions are not the best.
A decision on what is to become of the Adderley Building situated in the center of the city, and vacant for two decades, remains outstanding; as does the future of the Rodney Bain Building situated at Parliament and Shirley Streets; Collins House on Shirley Street; and the old Pan Am Building at Malcolm Park.
The site of the government-owned former City Market building site on Market Street opposite Southern Recreation Grounds remains derelict also after its redevelopment plan to house the Department of Lands and Surveys and the registrar general’s office was halted by the government.
We encourage the government to act sooner as opposed to later to rehabilitate and or replace these buildings.
The government might also give early consideration to the renovation and more effective use of other government-owned properties in the City of Nassau – for example the iconic Public Library; the two-story adjacent building; the old Batelco offices on East Street between Shirley and Bay Streets, partially occupied by the Central Police Station; the old Lighthouse building that houses Government Publications; the Lands and Surveys Buildings, and the nearby BAIC administrative building.
Quicker government action to bring order to its inventory of downtown buildings would go a long way in moving redevelopment forward.