90% of shops to reopen in Arcade Building soon

Arcade Building Manager Cecil Bethel

Practically dormant for weeks after the passing of Hurricane Dorian, the Arcade Building Ltd., a prime business area downtown, will have 90 percent of its stores reopened next month.

Arcade Manager Cecil Bethel earlier this week, informed The Freeport News that some 24 tenants should come on stream.

Located in the heart of downtown, Freeport, the 17 x 10 square foot structure is one of the oldest buildings on the island. It experienced massive flooding during Hurricane Dorian.

In the comfort of his office, once under water from Hurricane Dorian’s flooding, Bethel detailed the recovery process.

“We’ve been restoring the building since Hurricane Dorian, but at the moment we have lost two of our major tenants; A&W Travel and Compusec. They have decided not to return.

“Other than that, all of our other tenants have expressed interest in returning and some of them have already returned, because we are basically finished with the renovations.

“We look forward to at least being operational 90 percent by early December and after that, we are just praying for the best. Additionally, we have new tenants and new prospects because some of them had to relocate from where they were, and they are coming to us, here at the Arcade Building, seeking spaces to rent and we are grateful for that.

“Some spaces had 18 inches of water and some had up to about two feet. We didn’t have any major roof damage at all, but the surge is what caused all of this renovating.

“The good thing about all of this is however, our tenants know this was something that we have never experienced and they understand. They verified, firsthand, that their stores and businesses were under water or semi destroyed,” said Bethel.

The work necessary to restore the Arcade Building was challenging, according to Bethel. Mold was a big factor and preventive measures were essential.

“Here in this office space, all of the chairs, desk were water-soaked and mold was a grave problem.

“Two days after the storm, mold was present. We used protective covering for basically everything, but nobody expected the surge. The tenants are working with us, as we work with them, in getting them back in full operation.

“Initially there was a challenge with getting supplies. We are there now and our contractors are expediting the process, so it’s a matter of about two weeks. This building has been in Grand Bahama ever since I came here and it is one of the first buildings in the downtown area, but it is one that is strong and withstanding.

“After construction, our spaces will be all new because we had to remove all of the sheetrock and put in new sockets. So, when the tenants come in, they wouldn’t have to worry about the electrical side of renovating.

“The mold was addressed prior to everything being put back in place, and, we look forward to our tenants returning 100 percent,” said Bethel.

He said there was an extra push in the approach to restore the Arcade Building. Bethel said all concerned, were mindful of the holiday season getting nearer and working speedily was the focus.

“We wanted to get them back up and running. The holiday season is so near and tenants need to make money, and so do we. So, we need them back as well.

“There is that concern that sales won’t be as it used to be because the economy is challenged, and there are some places that have not reopened, or have just recently reopened all over Grand Bahama.

“However, as we get off soggy legs I think that Grand Bahama will return, but it will take some time’’ he noted.

Bethel called on fellow entrepreneurs and business persons to be resilient and provide inspiration and motivation for others.

“If the major stakeholders in Grand Bahama continue to have the interest that they have been expressing, in doing their part, then we are hopeful that a great change will take place, and, take place in the not too distant future.

“We have gone through numerous hurricanes and here we are. This building that we are in now, was destroyed before and we had to rebuild it, so in like manner as the hurricane and time of disaster pass our way, we are resilient enough and we have hope, that’s why we continue to rebuild.

“If we keep hope alive, as the saying goes, and we do what we need to, in order to ensure that our livelihood is sustained, then we should be okay. It’s not immediate, but we look forward to that robust kind of business in the not too distant future.

“We are excited about our reopening and we anticipate serving the community. The stores have a lot to offer,” noted the Arcade manager.”

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