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Royal Island Off the Market
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Posted by:Apr 11th 2006, 06:28:12 pm
Fig Tree News TeamApril 09, 2006

Cypress Equities purchases Bahamas island, with plans for luxury resort.

Cypress Equities, the retail development and acquisition affiliate of Staubach Retail, has acquired Royal Island, a 480-acre undeveloped and uninhabited island near Harbor and Eleuthera islands in the Islands of the Bahamas. The sellers were an unidentified group of private investors.

Situated about 190 miles east of Miami, Royal Island measures 4.8 miles from east to west and is about 400 meters at its widest point. The island features 30-foot cliffs, is densely forested and has the largest naturally protected deepwater harbor in the Bahamas at its center, according to Cypress.

The company plans to develop a luxury residential community, an 18-hole golf course, a five-star resort and a marina on the island. "We've made a few inquiries with some of the (luxury) branded operators," said Chris Maguire, Cypress's president & CEO, but no agreement has been forged yet with any of them. "We are also considering developing a private resort that we operate alone or with a partner," he noted.

The deal is one in a flurry of recent transactions. "We've seen a lot of activity in the Caribbean" and other places close to the United States, such as Mexico, observed Alinio Azevedo, senior associate with Ernst & Young LLP's transaction real estate group in Miami. "There is a lot of capital available, and the lodging industry has done well in the U.S., which increases the appetite for this type of deal."

Cypress is now negotiating a development agreement with the Bahamian government, according to Maguire, who noted that the Bahamas has similar agencies governing the development process to those that exist in the United States. It will be two to three months before the company can say exactly what it will build, he said.

"It's tougher to buy a property in The Bahamas and build on it than in the U.S.," he said. The process takes a little longer, although the government is trying to streamline it, and land is not less expensive, he noted. "But this is an incredible opportunity. Ten or 15 years from now, land prices (in the area) will increase, and land will become scarce. That is what happens when developers find a place."

By Hortense Leon, Southeast Correspondent

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