Albany targets 2011 for $180-$250m work start

Friday February 4th, 2011

Coming to a close on Phase One development, Albany is eyeing a potential $180 million to $250 million in further construction activity getting underway this year, as it heads into the second phase of its masterplan for the ultra-exclusive south-west New Providence community.

Christopher Anand, Albany's managing partner, told Tribune Business there was potential for a "quite intense" level of building activity to get underway at the development again in 2011, following a lull after the peak construction period.

"So three years ago there were 1,200 people a day coming in here to work on construction. That has now dropped, but it could easily get back up there," said Mr Anand in an interview on-site at Albany. Within that projected spend will be an estimated "$30 million to $50 million" on a dozen or more three to five-bedroom villas that will complete the "hotel" component at Albany, and $100 million to $150 million on the first of the resort's "marina apartments", which will eventually surround the marina itself.

Thirty of the villas, or "cottages" as the four-storey buildings are called at Albany, are already completed. All of the cottages, both complete and on the drawing board, are already sold.

Owners of these villas can choose to enter their property into a rental pool when they are not using them - a decision "the majority" of owners have been in favour of, according to Albany - and each then rent for around $6,000 a night at peak.

The owner gets 70 per cent of the net rental income, with Albany pocketing the remainder.

Pre-sales will begin in the next several months on the Marina Apartments, and the pace of sales for apartments within these three buildings - which will have a cumulative 250,000 square feet of space within them - will be the final determinant of when construction gets underway.

Mr Anand says it is hoped that enough properties will have been sold "by summer or fall" to justify the developers going ahead with construction before the end of 2011.

Another construction project slated for this year is a golf clubhouse, restaurant and 'Pro Shop' on the northern side of Albany's golf course.

Mr Anand described the development as a "marathon and not a sprint", noting that the developers are keen to build "sustainably" and with demand having been identified before they proceed. "We want a certain critical mass before we start building. Really, if the market doesn't validate your product then you shouldn't build it," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Anand estimates that construction is likely to get underway on a number of private homes within the community in 2011, with over 50 out of 100 available lots within Albany now sold.

Only one of 14 beachfront lots remains available, with each of these properties priced in the $5.5 million to $13.5 million range. Of 37 'beach walk' lots, 20 have sold. The remaining lots have an average purchase price of between $1.5 million to $2 million.

With an average building cost of $3 million to $4 million per house, it is projected that as much as $50 million could be coming towards Bahamian contractors from work in this area - which would be funded by individual property owners, not Albany itself.

Albany opened its Phase One amenities, including the hotel, two restaurants, pool areas for adults and children, three bars, a nightclub/lounge, gym, spa, lap pool and tennis courts, and children and teen's recreational/creche facility, in October.

Since that time, Jason Callender, vice-president for sales and marketing at Albany, said inquiries from potential purchasers have increased from "three to four a week to three to four a day". The developers are optimistic about their chances of success in meeting their pre-sales targets to enable the development to move ahead as scheduled.

"The level of interest has increased, and that's not a big surprise, because if you come out and it's a construction site, versus coming out and getting a bite to eat and a massage, it's like selling a furnished versus an unfurnished house," added Mr Anand.

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