Nassau Urban Lab – Central Nassau Urban Regeneration Plan

This is a plan to utilize Central Nassau’s natural and cultural assets to rejuvenate this area and create an economically successful, sustainable and diverse economically interconnected community. Nassau is currently facing a key moment in its growth trajectory as a city, facing challenges in the areas of affordable housing, unemployment and crime. Despite the rapid urban growth of the city, Nassau’s Downtown today remains empty and disconnected from the rest of the city. Based on the interviews, the collective diagnosis developed during the Nassau Urban Lab, the emerging topics, together with results of the Social Cartography of Perception and the different urban scenarios, a common urban vision was elaborated and validated with the representatives of the community and governmental officials. This vision, the general planning goals and the design criteria, were the basis for the design of the urban projects.

Central Nassau, the historic and cultural center of Nassau on the New Providence Island, The Bahamas, is made up of two communities: Downtown Nassau and Over-the-Hill.

Downtown Nassau attracts thousands of daily visitors who come to shop, dine, sightsee and enjoy the tropical climate of the city. However, locals, particularly young people, have a tendency to avoid the area as it is seen only catering to tourists. Furthermore, as the old industrial port on East Bay Street was relocated in 2012, many waterfront properties were left vacant and businesses in the area have been in decline.

Over-the-Hill is an area literally located past a natural ridge rising behind the southern edge of Downtown Nassau. The neighborhoods that make up this area were established as freed slave settlements and carry strong historic and cultural significance for the island. Mostly a residential area, with Grants Town and Bain Town as its main centrality, Over-the-Hill is home to low-income families and is commonly referred to by the people in Nassau as a ‘ghetto’. Run-down buildings and lack of basic infrastructure, like water and sanitation, are accompanied by a shortage of public space. Although there is plenty of vacant land, squares, plazas and public gathering spaces are non-existent.

Despite the urban challenges the city has been facing in the last decades, in December 2014, Nassau was designated as a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Arts by UNESCO. Armed with this recognition, the city now has an additional incentive to work towards its revitalization.