Alexis G. Nihon is Vice-President of Anco Lands Ltd., a real estate development company located in Nassau, the Bahamas. Following a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and English Literature at CanadaÂ’s McGill University, Nihon joined a private, Montreal-based company, Jesta Capital Corporation, as a financial analyst and property administrator. After honing his skills in the analysis, structuring and execution of acquisitions and divestitures of commercial real estate in North America and Europe, he joined Anco Lands in direct green-field development on the island of Abaco in the Bahamas. As the scale of this opportunity became increasingly evident, he decided to further his training with a Master of Science in Real Estate Development from Columbia University before returning to Anco Lands as Vice-President of Development, a post he has held since 2008. He now oversees all areas of development and plays a central role in day-to-day operations of Serenity Point.
1. Your family has a successful reputation for real estate development in Canada. How did you and your family get interested in the Bahamas?
My family has always had a foothold in both countries since my grandfather discovered the Bahamas in 1946 and made a home here. In 1962 he discovered Abaco, and saw great potential in its future. He purchased large swaths of land and hoped to begin developing some of them before he passed away. In the decades that followed his purchase, and particularly in the last decade, Abaco saw steady increases in tourism, development and infrastructure investment to the point where it is now the fastest growing island in the Bahamas other than New Providence, which hosts the capital, Nassau. My father managed our portfolios consistent growth from Canada until returning to the Bahamas full-time again to turn toward development.
2. Tell us a little bit about your vision for Serenity Point.
Serenity Point will be an intimate, high-end community on one of the most stunning beaches the Bahamas has to offer. Its location alone will make it stand apart from most other developments. Our idea is to create an elegant setting in which all of the modern amenities one would desire at home are at their fingertips in a breathtaking location, far removed from the outside world. The architectural style fuses a contemporary, openspace design with traditional elements of the Bahamian vernacular. Open plan concepts that maximize views and enhance the connection of the outdoors to the indoors are fused with historic and regional precedents specific to the Bahamas. Through our builderÂ’s program, residents will be able to build their dream homes in an ideal setting, with a cost-stable turn-key solution at hand. For a unique lifestyle experience, the community will be situated adjacent to an authentic new harbour town, Schooner Bay Village, which is also currently under development and will offer scores of civic services and retail outlets such as schools, a post office, shops, inns, and restaurants. Our development is located in the prestigious and growing South Abaco region, which adds a strong investment incentive to buyers as well. Finally, Serenity Point will also be in short distance from all of the attractions that have made Abaco an increasingly coveted destination year after year.
3. There are a number of luxury developments under way on Abaco. How will Serenity Point differ?
Abaco is certainly unique in that there are a number of unabated developments taking place during this slower economic time. I would say of all the private, high-end communities on Abaco offering this scale of quality, we are the most intimate in terms of size, a real oasis to those who will call it home. Something I think the last few years have taught us is that bigger isnÂ’t necessarily better. On the contrary, smaller, more integrated lifestyle communities have fared better, in terms of both experience and investment for end users. Additionally, Anco Lands holds a vast portfolio of land on Abaco and this is our primary development. We want to ensure that the reliability and longevity that has been associated with our name through decades of real estate development is delivered upon. No detail has gone unchecked. We want this community to represent a highly desirable location for second homeowners also searching for a sound investment in the Caribbean right now. To that end, weÂ’re creating a very high-quality product with significant growth potential built into it. Our location in the growing South Abaco region, adjacent to the multi-faceted Schooner Bay Village and close to other high-end project such as the Delphi Lodge and the Ritz-Carlton Abaco Club further this appeal. Last, our home sites are fully serviced and ready to be built upon right now. Our infrastructure is virtually completed and we are now moving towards the aesthetic components of Serenity Point.
4. Can you describe some of the Amenities Serenity Point will feature?
Serenity Point is located on one of the narrowest points of Great Abaco island, with some of the highest elevations available, offering ocean views to the east and the west. On the eastern side lies the stunning Schooner Bay Beach. On the western side are the marls, shallow waters known for some of the best bone-fishing in the Caribbean. Within this setting, Serenity Point will be a private, gated community situated at the heart of Schooner Bay Beach. Residents will have access to a full-service beach club anchored by an ocean view infinity pool, tennis courts with player facilities, a solar powered golf cart with each home site, and an extensive array of luxe concierge services ranging from private chefs and child care services to diving and island-hopping expeditions. Direct,
adjacent access to a host of amenities at neighboring Schooner Bay Village will also be of tremendous value to residents.
5. Many Ocean Home readers own yachts. How would Serenity Point appeal to them?
Abaco is known as the sailing and boating capital of the Bahamas. The island is famously known for having more boat slips than hotel rooms, and is home to a vibrant marina culture. With hundreds of unpopulated cays, 130 miles of naturally protected waters, and some of the best fishing on the planet, Abaco is considered by many to be nothing short of a boaterÂ’s paradise. Marsh Harbour, the nearby capital of Abaco, is a bustling marina and offers full-service for yachts of every size. Residents will also be able to anchor their yachts off Serenity PointÂ’s Schooner Bay, and bring their tenders in to the Schooner Bay marina, where a service will be offered to transport them to the marls for fishing. We anticipate a lot of boating activity at Schooner Bay. I would say to yachters, regardless of whether or not theyÂ’re interested in a home at Serenity Point, to definitely take a look at what Abaco has to offer in this capacity.
6. For the sake of the environment, so many new communities are featuring green technology. Will Serenity Point?
Absolutely. This is something we feel strongly about and weÂ’ve made great efforts to incorporate sustainable and eco-friendly elements in the community. Our Club House will be solar powered, as will the golf carts we are contributing to each home site. Our landscaping incorporates a significant amount of drought-tolerant indigenous flora. Beyond this, weÂ’ve built a low-impact irrigation system designed for efficient water use, and are in the process of building three rain water holding tanks for the community that will collectively hold up to one hundred thousand gallons of water. Our design guidelines also mandate design techniques that significantly reduce energy use and encourage water preservation, such as a 25 thousand gallon rainwater tank for each home site. Residents will also benefit from sustainable practices at neighboring Schooner Bay Village, such as an organic farmerÂ’s market and an abundance of green space. Attention to the environment amongst developers in Abaco is another factor that has differentiated the island from others over the last several years, receiving notable mention from the prime minister himself.
7. What are some of the reasons American and Canadians would find Serenity Point an attractive investment?
Abaco is now factually the fastest growing island in the Bahamas, other than the capital, Nassau, which has 20 times the population. In 2009 it took the lead in having the busiest airport, with the most flights, and has a rapidly expanding port served by 5 freighters from Florida alone. The island has shown significant year over year increases in visitors despite the economic downturn and Abaco today has the highest number of repeat visitors in all of the Bahamas. While the Bahamas and the Caribbean overall have suffered as a result of the economy, Abaco has shown far more resilience than other islands, so much so that it is now commonly referred to within the Bahamas as Â“the futureÂ”. Its close proximity to the Florida coast, two international airports, larger land mass, stunning natural attractions, and modern infrastructure account for part of this assessment. But it also has to do with the significant amount of public and private investment that continues to fuel growth in Abaco to this day. As an example, the government just commenced construction of a new 100 million dollar power facility, and announced that construction of a new 39,000 square foot airport terminal would also begin this year. In the private sphere, self-financed, mixed-use anchor developments such as Discovery LandsÂ’ BakerÂ’s Bay Ocean and Golf Club, and the Lindroth Development companyÂ’s Schooner Bay Village are forging ahead with construction and sales. Unlike other islands, the developments taking place in Abaco are generally more lifestyle oriented and less environmentally intrusive, accounting for stronger demand. Given the continued growth on Abaco, which will no doubt increase as the economy continues to mend, current real estate prices offer tremendous opportunity to those with the means to buy. Serenity Point is situated in a particularly promising region, South Abaco, which has seen considerable expansion over the last several years, pioneered by the Ritz-Carlton Abaco club. Finally, as a large landholding company, it is in our longterm interest to participate in the generation of growth in Abaco, particularly in certain regions. To that extent, we are offering substantial value in our pricing model. I think all of these factors combined provide a compelling investment incentive to buyers. Our challenge is to pierce through all of the disingenuous marketing currently out there to connect with seasoned investors looking for a genuine opportunity. I havenÂ’t touched on the fact that there is no income, inheritance or capital gains tax for residents of the Bahamas, which can be of benefit to buyers who would seek residency status, granted with a property purchase of $500k or more.
8. Can you tell us a little about the BuilderÂ’s Program?
The BuilderÂ’s Program is designed to make the process of building your dream home in a foreign country as seamless and hassle free as possible. We have partnered with a renowned Architectural firm, Chancey Design Partnership, to offer residents schematic and interior designs of homes built specifically for these sites. Owners can tailor these according to their tastes or start with a fresh palette to design their ideal homes. Either way, a cost-stable, turn-key solution is available to buyers. Should they wish to work with others, we have a list of pre-approved architects and builders who will work with them every step of the way to design and construct their vision. Owners may also choose their own team for building according to our architectural guidelines, which protect the visual integrity of the entire community but leave plenty of room for personal taste.
9. There are only 24 Oceanfront and ocean view home sites in total. What are the price ranges of each site as well as availability?
Prices for ridge lots start at 500k, with hill top lots starting at 750k, and beach front lots starting at 850k. Our official opening is on March 6th, at which point a full marketing and sales effort will begin. At this point we have a number of reservations secured simply by word of mouth, which we feel is a pretty good sign of things to come. With the worst of the economic downturn now behind us, weÂ’re confident that what we are offering will appeal to buyers looking for significant value, strong appreciation potential and, of course, a glorious lifestyle.