An upscale Abaco real estate development is targeting a $75-$100 million total value when its 46 home sites are fully built out, telling Tribune Business yesterday that the project expects to kick into high gear in the New Year after completing its first sales last month.
Gustaf Hernqvist, Serenity Point's project manager, said increased construction activity at the adjacent Schooner Bay development in south Abaco was helping to create a critical mass that encouraged potential buyers both projects were for real.
Telling Tribune Business that construction on Serenity Point's clubhouse was set to begin imminently, and that the first homeowner was anticipated to start building within the next six months, Mr Hernqvist said that reducing the project's real estate prices by up to 35 per cent - in response to market conditions - had also helped to stimulate buyer interest.
"We've found Schooner Bay has switched into a new gear, completing the harbour," Mr Hernqvist explained. "Over the last four-five months the pace has been incredible, with all the construction. The construction of the hotel is underway, a restaurant is coming soon, and a harbourmaster's office is open.
"These are all considerations for owners at Serenity Point; to be able to get into a golf cart and go to places next door. The difference between us and Schooner Bay is that we're a gated community."
Access to Schooner Bay's amenities and facilities is a key selling point for Serenity Point, which is being created as a boutique, upmarket real estate development featuring its own clubhouse, affinity pool, tennis courts and 24-hour security.
To make Serenity Point even more attractive and stimulate buyer activity, Mr Hernqvist said the developers had cut their lot prices by up to 35-37 per cent, dropping a beachfront location from an initial $850,000 to $535,000. Beachfront, and hillside sites, start at $300,000 for a half-acre lot.
"Since all these activities at Schooner Bay have been taking off, we've had a lot of inquiries," Mr Hernqvist told Tribune Business. "As of last month, we sold two beachfront lots. Another beachfront lot was reserved, and two ridge lots have been reserved with deposits.
"We are actually now just in the process of commencing construction for a clubhouse. Our projection is that this is going to be completed in a about a year."
Altogether, some two lots have been reserved, and another six sold, at Serenity Point. "The number one reason for why we're seeing this activity is because of how rapidly Schooner Bay is developing, giving investors and people confidence that it is a place to be," Mr Hernqvist explained.
And, with volatility still impacting world stock markets, Mr Hernqvist said real estate represented a secure investment opportunity, especially given that prices were starting to recover following the recession.
"Abaco is one of the best markets for second home owners," he added, "meaning you can take your initial investment to generate considerable rental revenue. We also have a very attractive in-house rental programme where we assist homeowners to rent their homes within the community.
"With the activity we are seeing right now, we are expecting to, for the first time since we started, to be able to increase prices slightly in the New Year." Serenity Point is being developed by Anco Lands, a company headed by Alexis Nihon II, whose family have been long-time Bahamas residents. He himself represented the Bahamas at wrestling at the 1968 Olympics, and is well-known for his charitable contributions. The Abaco-based project is the first attempt to develop his considerable landholdings on the island.
"We are expecting that the first homeowner will commence construction within the next six months," Mr Hernqvist told Tribune Business. "This New Year we expect to see a lot of improvement.
"The ultimate vision is to develop a private, boutique community that goes along with the natural development of Abaco, and tied into the architectural designs for what is built on the island and what is known to be appreciated. We want to contribute to growth in a positive and eco-friendly way."
The Tampa-based architectural and town planning firm, Cooper Johnson Smith, has been engaged to craft an architecture scheme that incorporates the traditions of this nation, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Dunmore Town, Harbour Island and Hope Town are serving as inspirations.
Mr Hernqvist said Serenity Point's properties will feature wrap-around decks, hardwood floors and large open spaces to allow them to breathe. The developers are providing a Builder's Program to aid homeowners with construction, giving them access to selected contractors and architects.