Today’s front-page article about Cayman’s construction industry is the sort of report a CEO would rush to present to his board of directors. After all, who does not like good news?
The topline results are this: With three years of robust growth and dozens of projects in progress, development continues to blossom in Cayman – In recent years, the construction sector has grown more than twice as fast as the overall economy.
Industry insiders predict that steady skyward trajectory to continue. By the Compass’s count, there are nearly 40 planned or active residential property developments in the works, alone, never mind commercial buildings, hotels and other projects. The map of these developments (see the center spread on pages 12 and 13) is a auspicious picture for the contractors, real estate agents, developers, suppliers and tradespeople who earn their living in the property market; for the owners and employees of the shops, restaurants and businesses where they spend their paychecks; and for the community as a whole.
Each shovelful of dirt turned over in a groundbreaking ceremony represents more than an abstract idea of “progress” – it is an informed vote of confidence in favor of Cayman’s future. With millions of dollars on the line and years of work required to bring a building project from planning to completion, property development is rarely an investment taken lightly or without thorough due diligence. In times that are subject to uncertainty, it is encouraging that so many people are placing such big bets on Cayman.
In practical terms, the residential developments (along with hotels and commercial projects) create hundreds of jobs that in turn generate even more positive economic activity. As we have written, private sector growth is absolutely essential if Cayman is to fund government services and mounting public sector liabilities, including unfunded healthcare obligations.
Unsurprisingly, many projects are concentrated along Seven Mile Beach and in South Sound – high-value areas that are close to the sea and places of employment.
But it is also worth noting the diversity of projects under construction – in type, price-point and geography. From East End’s Ironwood and the Rum Point Club Residences in North Side to the Residences of Stone Island, The WaterMark and up to the Boggy Sands Club in West Bay, no region of Grand Cayman is being left out of the boom.
The changing character of the island’s neighborhoods bring substantial challenges, such as necessary improvements to vital infrastructure, particularly in transportation. It is the remit and responsibility of government, funded through the fees generated by the increased economic activity, to help ease these growing pains through thoughtful planning and sensible, even-handed but not overly onerous regulation.
The members of our community who take to their bullhorns at the mere suggestion of development should recognize that even the “modern” Grand Cayman still has plenty of room in which to swing a hammock. In fact, increasing density in core areas satisfies demand from new residents and visitors, while preserving the very real charm and character of outlying districts.