Balmoral Project To Start Second Phase Within 60 Days

A $100 million Bahamian real estate project is aiming to break ground on its 20-unit second phase within the "next 45 to 60 days" once the required level of pre-sales has been achieved, telling Tribune Business that interest from foreign buyers appears to have been rekindled.

Jason Kinsale, principal of The Balmoral Development, located on Prospect Ridge near the US Ambassador's residence, told this newspaper that some 100-150 construction workers were currently employed on site, with the "sold-out" first phase targeting a May/June 2010 occupancy date.

"We have some units up to roof level, and infrastructure is being installed for those units as well," Mr Kinsale told Tribune Business. "We're using Bahamas Hot Mix for those utilities, and the tennis courts are 90 per cent complete. The new clubhouse for the tennis courts is almost done as well. It's looking like something now, not just a plan."

He added that construction remained on schedule, and might even complete slightly ahead of deadline. "There's a lot of construction work going on right now," Mr Kinsale said.

"We plan to have occupancy for the first home owners in May/June. The 26 units in the first phase are sold out. We don't build on spec."

As for Balmoral's second phase, Mr Kinsale said: "We plan, I would say, to start construction within the next 45 to 60 days, and are just getting prepared for that, taking in additional pre-sales to start the building.

"That will consist of approximately 20 units, two and four-bedroom town homes, and we're coming up with a new plan for a three-bedroom as well. It will probably take a couple of months to get pre-sales in place for the next phase, and we're starting to take deposits in escrow."

Mr Kinsale estimated that Balmoral had received six or seven deposits on phase two properties already, and the developers had the ability to start construction before it was sold out.. The 275-unit, 43-acre project, while pitched at and fuelled by Bahamian professional purchasers, was also now starting to gain traction with overseas purchasers, he added.

"We're actually starting to see more interest from foreign buyers. We've had a lot of Canadian buyers come in, and Americans as well," Mr Kinsale said. "I think the fear factor is eroding. People don't seem to be as scared as they once were."

He explained that prospective purchasers, who had made tentative inquiries about Balmoral's real estate options several months ago, were now returning as they became more confident that they were not going to lose their jobs or current salary levels due to the recession.

And Balmoral had also received a further boost from its hosting of special events. "That's really been a saving grace for us - to host a lot of dinners, events and functions," Mr Kinsale said. "In December, at last 2,000 people have come through the doors for events. It helps to sell real estate and keep us in the public eye. It's been very beneficial.

"With the development's build-out as well, that's helped us. People can see we're for real. Demand is steady and we keep improving the product. Our show home will be done next month, so people can see what we're offering."

Balmoral, when fully constructed, will be "very low density" with some 25 per cent of the 43 acres green space. Although it is currently envisioned as a mix of 70 single family home sites, town homes and condominiums, Mr Kinsale said the developers "may change the mix a little bit" in the final phase.

Acknowledging that 2010 will be "a bumpy road", he added that while the developers would be conservative in their outlook, Balmoral had still been: "able to sell in the worst economy in living memory", so its sales and development goals were still realistic.

Source: The Tribune