With lush brilliance evident even in watercolor, the green paradise shown in the artist’s rendering includes a colorful town square, clean streets speckled with strolling pedestrians and a neighborhood of houses arrayed with neat white shutters.

This vision of a new town in the Bahamas belongs to Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates, an Atlanta-based planning, architecture and landscape architecture firm. TSW was commissioned by the Bahamian government to design South Beach Township on New Providence Island, Bahamas.

“This is the first opportunity for the government to create a new town for Bahamians more or less from scratch,” said Bill Tunnell, a TSW founding principal. Mr. Tunnell stressed that a key design goal is to make the town environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

When the Bahamian government selected TSW to spearhead the project with local architecture firm Alexiou & Associates, the main concern was coming up with a housing plan that could cater mainly to middle-income families. TSW’s solution was to build a new, “full-blown” town based on the principles of New Urbanism.

New urbanist philosophy espouses the creation of walkable, mixed-use structures and encourages a more eco-friendly style of building and living. Environmental damage in the construction process is minimized, while sustainability on all fronts is emphasized.

With healthy development in mind, TSW hopes South Beach Township can break the pattern of “sprawl” that has characterized Bahamian urban expansion.

“Endless, gridded blocks of single-use, homogenized buildings are prevalent right now,” says Mr. Tunnell. “There’s little to be offered in terms of the public realm.”

Though just out of the design phase, South Beach Township has been garnering interest and support, especially since the Bahamian government has been paying increased attention to environmentally friendly initiatives.

“The government is encouraging citizens to appreciate that there must be new ways of living and protecting the environment,” said Katherine Smith, Bahamian Consul General in Atlanta.

Bouncing back from the global recession, the Bahamas is going through several infrastructural transformations. According to Ms. Smith, the government is spending more than half a billion dollars upgrading roads, utilities, medical facilities and other areas.

South Beach Township centers around 3,000 high-density residential units. The style of housing has a smaller footprint and combines business and transportation options in order to waste less space. Think Atlantic Station – but, in the case of South Beach Township, with the entire town designed that way.

The design also provides health and social benefits. The town will be divided into walkable neighborhoods, with locations linked by bike and pedestrian trails as well as roads. The idea may be foreign to Atlantans deadlocked in traffic, but TSW’s designers hope to encourage a more connected way of living where people can walk, interact with neighbors and rely less on cars, Mr. Tunnell said.

With the charrette (the architects’ push to finish designing a project) already completed, the Atlanta team and the Bahamian government must work together to make well-laid plans a concrete reality. If construction goes smoothly, the product could be a new Caribbean hot spot for locals to live and work – and perhaps a tropical paradise to welcome city-weary Atlantans. 

“South Beach Township has the potential to be a legacy project for the current prime minister’s administration,” said Mr. Tunnell. “We are excited to help create a town that will positively impact so many Bahamians and hope South Beach Township will provide a model for future development on this and other islands in the Bahamas.”

Hubert Ingraham, the island nation’s prime minister, visited Atlanta in 2009 to open a consulate responsible for the Southeast U.S.

Delta Air Lines Inc. and AirTran Airways both offer nonstop flights to the Bahamas, which is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut with a population of more than 300,000.

Read more: Bahamas PM: Atlanta Consulate Good for Trade

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...