One of the most exciting development projects to get back on track since the Coronavirus lockdown has been Harbour Walk at Grand Harbour, an impressive project that will include homes, office space and retail, creating a mixed use development that is set to broaden and enhance the already busy residential location.
Polly Legge, Investment Coordinator with Harbour Walk, said lockdown created significant challenges for the Harbour Walk construction team, which they had worked hard to overcome.
“At the imposition of the curfew, our construction team was literally in the middle of pouring concrete on a suspended floor slab. Needless to say, the measure couldn’t have come into force at a worse time!” Polly confirmed.
That being said, the management team continued to work from home throughout the lockdown, refining the design, sourcing materials and tendering Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Solar, and Geo-thermal contracts and also contributed to efforts by the Contractors' Association and a team of development stakeholders to advise the Government on procedures to be adopted for construction site management under Covid 19 suppression protocols.
The project was deemed essential to the economy by the Government on May 21st during the first wave of opening up of major development sites and was granted exemption from curfew movement restrictions. The site was prepared for remobilisation with a raft of Covid 19 prescriptions: signage, employee health questionnaires, daily health checks, dedicated personal protective equipment, new wash stations, dedicated dining area and every employee attended Health City for Covid 19 screening.
“We are now working diligently to reschedule works and recover the time lost due to the lockdown and have been very successful in winning back lost time with a number of strategies,” she confirmed.
This has not been an easy task, with material supply chains having been sporadically and unexpectedly disrupted, especially with Cayman's supply of cement being halted in August. Cement supplies ran out and the casting of concrete was suspended for a week.
“However, our team has responded excellently working to recover this lost time by working weekends and into the night,” Polly stated.
Other issues with supply and pricing have also caused problems but the team has still managed to achieve the pricing they need and guaranty the on-time delivery of the project. Polly confirmed that local providers had done an excellent job in keeping the site open.
As a result of all these strenuous efforts, the main building structure is back on schedule for completion in October 2020, with the roof currently under construction.
Windows and doors have been ordered to complete the building envelope in the coming months, framing of the residential apartments, commercial and retail units is on track for the first quarter of 2021 and completion following in the fall of 2021.
Crucially, Covid 19 has not diluted or diminished the ambitions of the stakeholders to deliver the project and the accompanying amenities to the Grand Harbour community. Nor has it dampened the enthusiasm of tenants for the development.
“All of the originally conceived amenities/shops and restaurants are on board, and several have been enhanced. The development will now feature four exciting food and beverage operations including a top-quality restaurant, café/bakery, vegan café and rooftop cocktail and tapas bar,” Polly stated.
She added that they have seen heightened interest in purchasing property at Harbour Walk post-Covid and advance leasing of commercial and retail space is also buoyant.
“We’ve sold three HW Residence units post-Covid and now have only four remaining from 62. The reality is that the recent crisis has reaffirmed peoples’ understanding of the inherent value, resilience and stability of Cayman’s real estate market. A common theme we have seen with many of our recent buyers is that they are looking to diversify their investment portfolio and they see innovative projects such as Harbour Walk as an ideal opportunity for income generation and appreciation,” she said.
Cayman’s overall strategy to beat Corona has paid off, she believed.
“We need to give credit to the success that the Government has had in controlling and preventing the spread of the virus, which has bolstered the value of Cayman’s real estate, not only locally but internationally. In recent conversations with IRG - International Realty Group, the listing broker for Harbour Walk’s residential and commercial units, the team have discussed the heightened levels of enquiries they have received from international buyers who are increasingly recognising Cayman as a safe haven,” she said.