Palm Cay development tries to Reinvent itself

Wednesday October 19th, 2011
Palm Cay

Palm Cay

A MAJOR EASTERN New Providence real estate development is aiming to put "a new spin" on itself to tackle "an identity problem" that has seen it wrongly positioned alongside inland townhouse comparables.

Richard Browning, Palm Cay's newly-appointed chief executive, told Tribune Business the 350-400 unit project was positioning itself to be "an achievable target" for many middle class, professional Bahamians amid a landscape of mega developments that were priced out of their reach.

Sandwiched between Port New Providence and Treasure Cove on Yamacraw Hill Road, and hidden from passing vehicles by its long blue wall, Mr Browning described Palm Cay as one of Nassau's best-kept secrets.

Telling Tribune Business that its 194-slip marina on the ocean was Palm Cay's "front door", with the roadway entrance the "back door", Mr Browning explained that he and his sales team were aiming to re-position the project as an ocean-related lifestyle product for aspiring Bahamian and international buyers.

"I think what we're looking for is a very strong residential lifestyle that has the quality of some of those mega developments, but can be offered to the young, aspiring, and the inspired community of the Bahamas," Mr Browning said. "This is an achievable target for a lot of Bahamians, whereas there are a lot of developments in the Bahamas that are asking the world, and which are so far away from being attainable."

Palm Cay's price points start at $500,000 for a townhouse, and go up to a lot that, once the home is fully built out, could cost up to $2 million. The developers are also attempting to diversify their real estate product offering, introducing a Bahamian-style cottage family home on a 2,000 square foot lot, and targeting the rentals market, too.

"It's a well-kept secret," Mr Browning told Tribune Business of Palm Cay. "In some ways it's negative because we haven't yet made the sales, but in some ways it's positive in that it's something we're trying to reignite.

"It's not something that got to the market. We're not trying to fix it. It's not broken. It's getting it out and recognition, because it's not broken. It's an identity problem, rather than a development problem. We're looking to put a new spin on it, create a new identity, a sustainable identity. What we want to do is leave something of substance that is sustainable.

"We need to reposition ourselves. We've positioned ourselves alongside the inland townhouse product. That's been where we've been compared with, and what's held the price point.

"I'm not in the business of creating a home, I'm in the business of creating a lifestyle. We need to be considered a lifestyle product, and the existing comparisons are not the ones we should be compared with. We have a lifestyle product, and the real estate element is secondary. The marina is my front door; the real estate is the back door. A development has to have a focal point. It needs to have a heart. If you do not have a heart, you can't operate."

While Palm Cay had allocated space for residential amenities such as a central park, and was currently constructing tennis courts to go alongside the marina and clubhouse/restaurant, Mr Browning emphasised that the developers would not "overload" the community with these.

"I'm very conscious that developers can create massive amenities, but when they're finished they have to be maintained by the residents themselves and the Property Owners Association (PoA)," he added.

"If you put in too many amenities not wanted by the residents, they will not pay for them when the crunch comes, and they fall into disrepair. We put in the essentials, leave space and opportunity to expand them as the profile of the residents requires. To build liabilities is not the game we're in. Everyone is against high maintenance fees."

Of the marina and clubhouse, Mr Browning added: "We mustn't load it so much so that residents are paying exorbitant maintenance fees. Our cost centres and profit centres will be very important.

"The clubhouse will become a profit centre, the marina will become a profit centre, so we minimise the support the residents put into it."

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