I don’t believe that we have ever seen as many cranes along the Seven Mile Beach corridor as we have currently, and those numbers are only set to increase by the end of this year. Such large construction equipment is a telling and obvious sign of the huge number of developments currently taking shape along the most highly prized section of Grand Cayman and the momentum that has shown no signs of abating just because of COVID.
The Hilton is one such development that has its crane in place and is progressing well and just down the road, the Grand Hyatt is currently working on its foundations and should have its crane in place in the coming months. The Aqua development, a luxury 10-story condominium complex currently being developed on the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, has its crane, while Seacrest, another ten-story development on Seven Mile Beach also has its own crane and is pouring the 5th floor this week. Next year, Lacovia will follow suit when construction will begin on this property.
The impressive Watermark development is currently seeing a great deal of construction activity and, while its crane is not as yet up, this will happen within the coming weeks as the building continues its progression out of the ground and upwards. Plus, there are 2 cranes in Camana Bay. One of which is on the residential (for rent) tower by Fosters and the other is at the new office tower across from 60 Nexus Way. Fin, the luxury residential development in South Sound, should be completed by the end of the year as the brand-new development is handed over to its owners.
All in all, these are great signs for Cayman’s marketplace, and this doesn’t even account for the numerous other developments being built that don’t require cranes.
Challenges ahead of Seven Mile Beach Growth
However, the industry is not without its challenges despite the boom in business. One of the biggest challenges I see is the existing quarantine rules that are being applied to those coming to Cayman at this time. Of course, I realise that Cayman has to do everything in its power to prevent the spread of COVID among the community, but quarantine does bring its own problems for developers and the construction industry. When a development calls for a particular area of expertise that requires an individual or team to come in from overseas, the current two-week quarantine rule poises a real threat to the flow of work.
By adding in their two weeks of quarantine, many of these individuals, due to the nature of their work, will effectively be unable to work during the quarantine period, which will be a challenge and additional cost for developers trying to keep to strict schedules and work plans. Construction of a development project is a multi-layered puzzle that must happen in prescribed stages and if there are any hold-ups to any of the stages it causes a ripple impact onto the rest of the project.
This is a challenge that developers will have to figure out and overcome; however, the good news is that confidence in the Cayman real estate market is at an all-time high and activity is therefore immense. We are seeing increasingly more demand from high net worth investors looking to purchase a safe haven, away from the threat of the global COVID pandemic. Additionally, with the potential of future tax increases not only in the US and Canada but globally, as well as the upcoming US elections, we are already seeing an increase in both inquiries and transactions including some from people who have never even visited the Cayman Islands before.
We anticipate this new customer base to continue to grow more as the year progresses especially with the appeal that many buyers can apply for residency based on their real estate purchase.