The grand opening of a new Class A office building at Camana Bay, called 18 Forum Lane, was celebrated with a reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday night.
The four-story building is not only the first mixed-use commercial building in the Cayman Islands to earn LEED Gold certification for its environmental sustainability, it is also the first such building in the Caribbean. Some of the many environmentally friendly features include solar panels, solar LED lighting, a cistern to catch rainwater to flush toilets, LEED-approved coolants and air filters in the air conditioning system, and drought-resistant landscaping plants.
Dart Realty Cayman Ltd. Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak said that the opening of the 86,000-square-foot building brings the total area of Class A office space at Camana Bay to just under 400,000 square feet. The anchor tenant – accounting firm PwC – has already moved into the building, occupying 26,000 square feet, incorporating all of the fourth floor and part of the third floor. Also slated to move into the building is Hurley’s Entertainment, as well as the Cayman Dental Services and Cayman Orthodontics group.
Ms. Doak said 18 Forum Lane was built with sustainability in mind, and she referenced a PwC report titled “Real Estate 2020: Building the Future,” which stated that by 2020 it is likely that “all buildings in advanced economies will need to have sustainability ratings. What’s more, the concept of sustainability will have broadened to mean creating ‘places’ where people enjoy living and working. So, new developments will be designed with green spaces, good air quality and spaces for social gathering.”
Even though 18 Forum Lane was the first LEED-certified Class A office building in Camana Bay, Ms. Doak commented how the design philosophy upon which Camana Bay was founded always included sustainability and New Urbanist principles of walkability, ample green space and a strong sense of community.
“We are guided by our shareholder, Mr. Ken Dart, a visionary who is always looking forward to the future,” she said.
Ms. Doak said discussions with PwC about the possibility of moving its offices to Camana Bay began almost a decade ago, in 2006.
PwC Partner Graeme Sunley said he had not realized that the discussions had started so long ago, but offered an explanation as to why it took so long for his company to actually make the move.
“Maybe it’s the conservative nature that we accountants have, but I can assure you, this was a big deal for us and we analyzed it every which way,” he said, noting that throughout all the early discussions, Dart was very patient in making sure they understood PwC’s needs and concerns. “We really appreciated the spirit of willingness to get things done in a way that worked for everyone.”
Mr. Sunley said that the staff of the firm, which moved into its new space in December, loved being in Camana Bay and he gave some examples of how the development’s multipurpose walk-ability makes working there better.
“My kids go to the [Cayman] International School … and earlier this week they had a little presentation that they did at their assembly for the parents, and I found myself walking over to the school to watch, along with a few other parents who obviously had the same idea,” he said. “I thought the whole thing about being able to stroll over to see the kids and then to be back in the office so easily afterwards was kind of nice.”
He also spoke about how PwC had an office-wide meeting last week and how the company was able to use the cinema – a short walk away – to hold the meeting.
“Then afterwards the whole office walked over to one of the restaurants for food and drinks,” he said, adding that being able to walk from the office to the meeting to the after-meeting function was something new to the company. “It was a great function and I do think, at least in part, that it is a reflection of our being located right here in Camana Bay.”
As for the office space itself, Mr. Sunley said the environment is a “real positive” and that being able to provide such a working environment “goes a long way to contributing towards the whole experience that people have at work.”
Ms. Doak commented that another PwC partner had said something similar to her.
“Peter [Small] said to me tonight that [the new office space] actually made their employees want to work more,” she said.
A sister building to 18 Forum Lane – tentatively called 18 Forum Lane South – will be built next to the newly opened building. In between the two buildings will be a 20,000-square-foot, landscaped courtyard. Mrs. Doak said it will be the largest courtyard in Camana Bay, perfect for company functions.
18 Forum Lane was first announced in June 2013 and completed in October 2015. DECCO Executive Manager Gary Gibbs led the construction and fit-out process that used 29 Caymanian contractors. The building was delivered on time and under budget, something Mr. Sunley referenced.
“Our office fit-out … actually came in significantly under budget and I can tell you, for a bunch of accountants, that was very much appreciated.”