[ #TheMagicCity ] • Port Lucaya Marketplace

The Port Lucaya Marketplace & Marina was indisputably, once the epicentre of, “things to do” in #TheMagicCity. According to its website, today, the Port Lucaya Marketplace is the largest shopping, dining, and entertainment open-air facility in The Bahamas.

 

The Port Lucaya Marketplace & Marina owes its name to the Lucayan people. And, as I’ve mentioned in my [ You: Long Island ][ Me, an Intellectual: The #FatherLand ] post, the Lucayans were the indigenous people of The Islands of The Bahamas who were eventually exterminated at the hands of Christopher Columbus.

Check out [ You: Long Island ][ Me, an Intellectual: The #FatherLand ]

The actual marketplace is a 12-acre, open-air shopping complex featuring a copious amount of business establishments. It’s home to a myriad of retail shops, restaurants and bars, straw vendors & hair braiders, artisans and daily live entertainment. The marina has over 100 slips and is full-service.

The entire shopping and dining area surrounds, on most sides, the Count Basie Square.

The Count Basie Square is the home of all live entertainment in the Port Lucaya Marketplace. It was named after William Basie; a jazz musician originally from New Jersey in the United States of America. William or Count, as he was called, Basie eventually moved to The Bahamas with his family and settled in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Here, Count Basie and his wife made meaningful impacts throughout the Magic City. In addition to the square being named in his honour, Count Basie’s wife, Catherine, established, what is now called, The Beacon School.

The Port Lucaya Marketplace, like the International Bazaar, was frequented by both locals and visitors and its amenities were enjoyed by all patrons. As a child, I remember watching the thrilling fire dance shows and swallowing down so many daiquiris… Which is probably why you can’t get me drink a daiquiri now because I’ve had too many as a child! 😫

Generally speaking, today, the Marketplace & Marina are dead-zones and serve as reminders of the magic that was once present in the city. Recently, there has been government intervention with the purpose of reviving the magic. This produced, “A Taste of Port Lucaya”. Every Friday night for several successive weeks there was live entertainment and family fun, much like during glory days of the island. This, however, was not a permanent solution and during my visit to photograph the marketplace, it was empty. Devoid of almost any local or visitor.

A Tribune Newspaper article from July of this year was headlined:

Port Lucaya Marketplace ‘Holding On By A Thread’

At that time, merchants at the Port Lucaya Marketplace were said to be “holding on by a thread” and “hoping for a speedy reopening of the Grand Lucayan Resort”, which is across the street from the marketplace and marina. It went on to mention that “store owners were experiencing one of the worst droughts in a decade since last October when Hurricane Matthew damaged and forced the closure of the resort property in Grand Bahama.”

As of November, The Nassau Guardian has reported that a purchase offer for the resort by the Wynn Group, based in Canada, has been accepted by Hutchinson Whampoa and the reopening of the Lucayan Strip, in phases, is set to commence as early as “late spring/early summer” of 2018.

Perhaps the magic is set to return.

Until then, let’s talk about some of your favourite memories of #TheMagicCity. What do you miss most from the “glory days” of Freeport?