James Rouse to develop port, resort in Bahamas

February 14, 1991|By Edward Gunts

Nearly three decades after he began building the "new town" of Columbia, developer James Rouse is working on plans to create an equally visionary new town in the Bahamas.

According to Mr. Rouse, the real estate business he heads, Enterprise International Development Co. of Columbia, has reached agreement to work with developers from Norway and the Bahamas to build a new cruise-ship port and 3,700-acre resort town on the south coast of Grand Bahama Island.

Enterprise's partners in the project are Grundstad Maritime Overseas Ltd. of Stavanger, Norway, and Washington, a cruise-ship operator; and Grand Bahama Development Co., part of the Grand Bahama Port Authority Group, which owns the land.

The development will be about 25 miles from the island's Freeport Harbor, which draws a million cruise-ship passengers a year and is already close to capacity. The new port would expand the capacity of Grand Bahama Island for receiving cruise-ship visitors, and the adjoining land, with 3.8 miles of waterfront, will be used to create a full-scale resort town with accommodations for visitors arriving by sea and air.

Richard Chalmers, an Enterprise vice president, said the company's role is to oversee land development for the project, which will take 15 years or more to complete. He said the landowners originally approached Enterprise only with the idea of building a cruise-ship port, but Mr. Rouse suggested expanding the project to include a town as well.

"It'll be similar to a Columbia approach," Mr. Chalmers said. "The concept is to create a place that is not exclusive, where all kinds of people can live. There will be a lot of public spaces where anybody can go."

Mr. Chalmers said the area has great potential because the island has mild weather, a good tax climate and is only 87 miles from the Florida coast -- a five-hour cruise. He said Enterprise was approached because of its expertise in developing mixed-use, leisure-oriented projects, many of them on waterfronts.

The development partners don't have a master plan for the Grand Bahama project and are just beginning to put together a design team, Mr. Chalmers said.

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