'No solid feed’ on a sale

by: Lededra Marche, News Editor

While store owners in the International Bazaar struggle to keep their head above water, there have been some prospects in to look at the property which is up for sale.

“We have had a few potential clients come to look at the International Bazaar,” Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville told The Freeport News. 

“I’ve not really gotten any direct solid feed on it yet. “

Back in January, Bazaar Association President Chris Paine confirmed the property was being put up for sale, but would remain open as usual.

There are about 85 potential retail stores.

The once thriving mecca, which sits adjacent to the hotel property has struggled to stay afloat as a result of the closure of the Royal Oasis Resort in 2004.

However, Harcourt Development Group purchased the resort property in 2007 for the purpose of transforming it into a high-quality tourist destination, but that has yet to be realized.

The reopening of the resort was anticipated to bring major benefits to the local area through increased tourism and local employment.

Some 25 operators remain at the bazaar property and are concerned with the run-down, desolate appearance and lack of traffic in the area and have been crying out for some resolve.

“We anticipate a meeting probably early next month with Harcourt to get an update on what their intention is,” Darville said. 

“(We’re going) to try to make sure that that meeting is a joint meeting between the Ministry of Grand Bahama and the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Harcourt Group.”

The minister for Grand Bahama said that government is concerned about the property and the fact that it is in disrepair.

He noted that as government is making ready to begin its new program with Sunwing Travel, the world’s largest tour and travel company, for the opening of the Reef resort later this year, cleaning up certain areas of the city is a necessity.

“We want to ensure that the community and the city has a facelift because as we bring these tourists in at all inclusive resorts we want the city to be look ing a bit more rejuvenated,” he said, adding that for the time being everything remains the same.

The Sunwing project includes an all-inclusive 460-suite resort with new flights out of Canada.

“So in September we will have a few meetings concerning that property. But as far as any eminent sale, no I’m unaware of it. As far as anything new, I’m unaware of it. As far as the small businesses in the area, they continue to struggle and for good reason.”

Dr. Darville insists money needs to be pumped into the bazaar property and that it is obvious that something needs to be done soon.

“We, as a whole community, need to find the way forward for that property. We’re very concerned for it and we’re going to do a little bit more cleaning up as we prepare ourselves for this capitalist tourism product that is on the way with Sunwing,” he said.

“We’re going to have a substantial amount of airlift, we’re working out the logistics at the airport, we are planning and working out the construction at the site to ensure that we open on a timely fashion and also preparing ourselves when we launch the national training agency, probably late this month early next month to begin to get our employees ready for a five-star facility.”

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