Thursday, December 16, 2010

Limegrove Still Not Quite Ready For Primetime

If you were hoping to shop Limegrove this Christmas for that special luxury item for that special someone, you may be a little disappointed with the official opening of the much ballyhooed Limegrove Lifestyle Center in Holetown.  Not only were Louis Vutton, Hermes, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Armani and other high-end stores completely missing, but of the only two stores ready for the big opening day, one – Hallmark – is so ubiquitous that most discerning shoppers would consider it a no-name brand.  One couldn’t help wondering whether they PC150307were forced to open their doors in the still largely incomplete mall just to get rid of their stock of seasonal Christmas cards.
Limegrove is a work in progress, and that’s putting it mildly.  It’s more like an active construction site than somewhere you would want to shop.  Intrepid early adopter shoppers should be warned to leave their high heels at home and not to forget their hard hats.  Oh, and they should also bone-up and their dump truck-dodging skills.  I don’t know what’s the rush to open this unfinished product now when clearly it will miss both the Christmas shopping season and the entire key 2010-2011 winter tourist season.  Opening it now, if one can call it an "opening," only serves to remind everyone that Limegrove, like much of the tourism-related development on the west coast, is still in the throes of the deepest international financial recession since the Great Depression.

This recession has devastated tourism development up and down the west coast – projects upon which Limegrove was banking.  After celebrating (in the media) finally paying off its creditors last month, government is today admitting that they really have no firm date for the restart of the Four Seasons hotel and villa project.  Banyan Tree/Black Bess is looking for a buyer, St. Peter’s Bay reportedly has only sold two of its fifty-seven condos (to principals of the company), and Portico and others stand empty.  And, despite the Government of Barbados’ upbeat predictions and pronouncements the future remains bleak.  I mean, just who do they think they are fooling when the shots are really being called in Washington and even there - Feds Chairman Ben Bernanke, like the weather-forecasting ground hog, is predicting five more months years of winter recession.

We certainly wish Limegrove and it’s visionary developer, Paul Altman, all the best in these tough economic times.  If he is still holding on to it when the storm is over, he/we should have an excellent product on par with any of the high-end shopping centers we have seen in North America.  We loved the water feature and the gas lamps.  It’s position in the heart of Holetown across from First and Second Streets cements the area as the leader in tourism entertainment and shopping in Barbados and much of the Caribbean.  There still remains some concerns about flooding in Holetown (in spite of Mr. Altman’s boasting otherwise) and the wider ecological damage to the mangrove upon which it is built and what that portends for the future, but like most the rest of the world, I suppose we are leaving those headaches for future generations.  Right now the spotlight is on Limegrove’s coming out “party.”

We ran into Paul last night showing his wife around his latest dream coming to fruition, and he reminded us that he started out bagging groceries at Elmer’s Supermarket in Speightstown.  Well, Elmer Jordan is in the crypt underneath St. Peter’s Parish Church and a generation has grown up since his supermarket closed its doors.  The lesson for us all and Limegrove is that there is always a fine line between the crypt and success.

Click here for a few shots we took of Limegrove last night.

Click here to read some of our earlier posts on Limegrove.


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