Building Hope for Hope Town

Cronk Duch’s renderings for the Hope Town primary school.

Jacksonville Beach construction firm FaverGray has a thirty-year connection with Hope Town, Elbow Cay. Since the late ’80s, FaverGray co-founders James Gray and Keith Faver, along with The Bailey Group’s President and CEO, Mark Bailey, have traveled to Hope Town, creating “cherished memories with the heart and soul of the island – the people,” says Gray. The trio shares a home on the island and has built long-lasting friendships with 6th generation Bahamians.

When Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas in September, 2019, leaving around $3.4 billion in damages, the trio was shaken and jumped into action. An initiative of Community Assistance Foundation Inc. came together as Hope Town Rising 501(c)3 within 48 hours of the storm, guiding a grassroots effort to support ongoing and future rebuilding efforts on Elbow Cay. FaverGray, The Bailey Group, and Vesta Property Services immediately partnered with Hope Town Rising in hopes of creating a plan to help reconstruct the battered city of Hope Town. “We feel a personal responsibility to help the Hope Town Community – they are like family,” says Gray.

FaverGray was proactively involved with the initial storm clean-up efforts, and also set to work on establishing long term plans to rebuild the town’s critical civic buildings. After diligently working towards their capital goals with the help of the community, FaverGray says they are now able to start the next phase — creating blueprints to implement restoration of Hope Town’s school and its Teachers Cottage, both destroyed in the hurricane. 

FaverGray’s renderings for the Hope Town Teachers Cottage.

The Headmaster and his wife live in the Teachers Cottage. “It’s all the Queen’s land and it belongs to the Bahamian government in support for the local school,” says Gray.  It is the only primary school on the island, and served 55 children prior to the storm. Unable to use the school from September, 2017 through January 1, 2018, these students attended school in Nassau or the US before a reopening of the Hope Town school, under “temporary conditions,” saw 25-30 students return.

FaverGray owners Keith Faver and James Gray say they are incredibly excited to get started with executing their rebuilding designs, stressing that the rehabilitation of the Teachers Cottage and school will be one of the most essential projects to restore the island’s viability. The lack of a functioning educational establishment may result in a decreased population, but FaverGray says it is devoted to remediating the concern before this impact is seen. 

An upcoming action plan kick-off meeting will be facilitated by FaverGray, Cronk Duch Architects, Elbow Cay Restoration Committee and the school’s headmaster. The meeting will discuss details and determine the commitments of all parties involved in order to define the scope of the project. Once the final outline is agreed upon and approved by the Town Council, the FaverGray team will begin renovating the Cottage and making it habitable again. This will entail significant labor and material resources at the outset, for developing the foundation and structural framing. The team will also manage the key trades of electrical and roofing, and any other trade deemed necessary to maximize the project’s outcome. Gray says that the team will use Bahamian workers as much as possible, but labor is in short supply because of other civic projects. “We will use Local labors and Bahamian subcontractors as much as we can in the effort to increase local commerce and the economy,” he says.

Opposite and above: Cronk Duch’s renderings for the Hope Town primary school.

Due to the COVID-19 quarantine, the project is on hold until August, 2020, but Gray says that once they commence, the estimated completion time is five months. The team says that entering the rebuilding phase is exciting, but is quick to point out that there is a lot of work to be done. FaverGray feels a personal connection to Hope Town, and views this restoration project as the solidification of their commitment to the town’s future. If you wish to donate to this cause, please visit their GoFundMe page to make your contributions.

Author: Arbus

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