Recent reports suggest that the Government is hoping to close on a sale of Walker’s Cay to a US real estate billionaire and return it to its “boater’s paradise heyday” soon.
According to Tribune Business sources Jeff Greene, an investor with substantial high-end real estate investments in Palm Beach and New York’s exclusive Hamptons area, is the potential buyer of the northernmost island in the Abacos.
Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, declined to confirm whether Mr. Greene was the potential Walker’s Cay buyer, but said he understood a deal for the property was close to completion.
“The last I heard, they were very close to a deal,” Mr. Rolle. “I haven’t gotten an update recently to determine whether it was finalized or not. They were having some discussions and going through the normal process for a transaction like this.”
Mr. Rolle said that the Government wants to see Walker’s Cay to return to, or exceed, the economic impact it had in North Abaco when it was known as the automatic first stop for visiting boaters making their way down the Bahamian island chain.
“I believe it would be great for the Bahamas if it does happen,” Mr. Rolle said. “Walker’s Cay, in its heyday, was the most popular boating spot in the Bahamas. When the Abplanalps were there and operating it, that was a boater’s paradise and contributed to a lot of economic activity in that area.”
He added that “We [the Government] would like to see that area live up to its former potential, and like to see the same level of activity.
“Depending on who the developer is, we’d like to see increased activity there.”
Mr. Greene is estimated to have a $2.2 billion net worth in September 2012, and has built a successful real estate investment empire with interests in Florida and New York, having worked his way up from a position as ‘bus boy’ at a Palm Beach hotel.
Walker’s Cay has a world-famous reputation among boaters and sports fishermen, with television programs previously featuring activities such as shark feeding on the island. Some 80 per cent of the world’s game fishing records were held by boats who had come from the 100-acre Walker’s Cay.
The 71-room Walker’s Cay Hotel & Marina, which has 62 guest rooms, three villas, and the three-bedroom Harbour House was heavily damaged in the 2004 hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. Apart from the 2,800 foot airstrip, Walker’s Cay houses the Conch Pearl and Lobster Trap restaurants, two bars, the Treasure Chest gift shop, the Sea Below Dive Shop, freshwater and saltwater swimming pools, tennis courts and a 75-slip marina. The hotel is 50 feet above sea level, and the island provides access to both shallow water and deep water fishing, with boaters in deep water within minutes of leaving.