by Leigh-Ann Worrell
Three years after closing its doors, the former Ocean Park complex will become Barbados’ newest place to PLAE – from April 1.
Operations manager of PLAE (Play, Lounge, Advertising and Entertainment), Lionel Eastmond, told Barbados TODAY he acquired the 12-acre facility through a lease last year. After a few delays, he said, he was ready to redevelop the Balls, Christ Church property into a food and entertainment facility.
It will feature a solar-powered golf course, children’s play area, clubhouse, lounge and arena, with other plans to come on stream later.
“We are looking to have an 18-hole golf course and mini clubhouse for the children, as well as Saturday morning vendors markets, Saturday night parties and after-work lime on Fridays by the clubhouse,” he said.
“We will also have an arena suitable for games that require a hard court, host large-scale parties and can double as a carpark… The Splash park will be the last thing to be developed. It will be on 3 000 square feet with water jets, other apparatus and a changing room.”
Eastmond said the redevelopment had cost $300,000 so far, “with a lot more to be spent”. The expenditure had been concentrated on clearing land, debushing, repainting, power-washing and replacing items such as air conditioning units and lights that had been damaged by copper thieves.
He told the newspaper that as a resident of a neighbouring community, he was interested in redeveloping the property, and always “saw the potential in it”.
“I left Barbados and when I returned in 2010 I heard it was closed and it took me from 2010 to 2012 to acquire the land,” he said.
“I am a chef so I wanted to showcase what I learned overseas with food and also running my own place gives me a freedom to try something new.”
Ocean Park ceased operations on August 31 2009, citing high operational costs, especially for electricity. The marine aquarium showcased a variety of fish, living reefs, a mini-golf course and a driving range. In addition, a number of events were held at the Christ Church venue, including the De Big Show calypso tent and other Crop-Over events.
The operations manager believed the new venture would be more financially stable, since it was not incurring the high electricity costs of the fish display.
“We are not bringing back the fish display. Instead, we are focussing on food and beverage and the mini-golf course… [and] if the solar power stands up like I hope it does … we can bring a lesser price for the mini-golf course and it can remain at that price point.”
Corporate Barbados has also taken interest in the renovation, Eastmond stated.
“We have had a number of requests to put up billboards to advertise companies. They have also indicated the areas which they have identified as premium spots so we have decided to sell billboard space to corporate Barbados.” [email protected]