By Alan Markoff
Things are looking up in Camana Bay.
Across from Foster’s on the north end of the Town Centre, construction of Kapok, a 10-storey residential building featuring for-lease apartments and 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space is well underway.
Further to the south on Nexus Way, another building is under construction that, subject to planning approval, will also rise to 10 storeys. If approved, 60 Nexus Way will become the tallest commercial office building on Grand Cayman, with 9,000 square feet of retail space on the street level, and above that, 20,000 square feet of office space per floor.
Previously, only resort and residential buildings could be built to 10 storeys. However, after legislators approved an amendment to the Development and Planning Law in November 2020 to also allow for 10-storey commercial office buildings, Dart submitted a revised planning application in March.
President Real Estate Asset Management Justin Howe said that building higher allows Dart to “future-proof” the buildings in Camana Bay to maximise their lifetime and functionality.
“Building up instead of out has a positive environmental impact by reducing sprawl, increasing energy savings and conserving resources,” he said. “In addition, land is scarce and demand is high along the Seven Mile Beach corridor, so taller buildings and increased density is an efficient and effective use of the limited numbers of undeveloped properties.
Howe said the new tenants of 60 Nexus Way will also add to the vibrancy of Camana Bay.
“A busy town with shops, restaurants, cafés and a cinema is a centre of community to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” he said.
President of Business Development Jackie Doak said the construction of Class A office space in Camana Bay is driven by client demand.
“We continue to see interest from large commercial tenants looking to relocate to Camana Bay and from existing tenants wanting to expand,” she said. “Companies are gravitating towards walkable neighbourhoods like Camana Bay. Business partners and employees benefit from Camana Bay’s amenity-rich town, with professional service providers, schools, homes, shops, restaurants, green spaces, sports facilities and medical practitioners all within easy access.”
The 60 Nexus Way and Kapok projects combined are estimated to employ approximately 350 construction personnel and inject an estimated US$130 million into the local economy.
Features and design
In keeping with the development ethos of Camana Bay, 60 Nexus Way is being built to the standards set out by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, commonly referred to as LEED. This third-party green building certification programme promotes a “whole building” approach to sustainability in design and construction. It includes water savings, energy efficiency, sustainable materials selection, waste reduction and indoor environmental quality.
With regard to its aesthetic design elements, 60 Nexus Way will take a different approach than previous office buildings in Camana Bay, said lead interior designer on the project, Gina Powell.
“It’s essentially a modern industrial style with an island flare,” said Powell. “We are purposely steering away from a traditional corporate feel towards the casual sophistication that often characterises hospitality public spaces. It’s a playful twist on the professional environment.”
The “industrial” part of the design will feature elements like polished concrete floors, exposed pipes in the ceiling and refined decorative metal elements. The “tropical” part of the design includes using materials found in the Camana Bay outdoor environment — like coral stone and lush greenery — inside the building.
Powell said walking into the 60 Nexus Way lobby will recreate the feeling of walking through Camana Bay’s colourful and lush courtyards.
“We’ve pulled inspiration from the courtyards and the local natural environment by providing an inviting space that features a unique green wall display, vibrant colours and textures, and natural thatch materials.”
The common lobby area is intended to be functional, Powell said.
“We want to create a lobby lounge intended for activation,” she said. “The aim is to create a visibly appealing environment in which users feel comfortable to gather. Whether it’s for an individual, for small intimate gatherings or for a larger group, the space is intended to accommodate various needs.”
A specific kind of artwork will be used in the interior common spaces.
“We’re going to use nature-themed photography throughout as a means to further inject the space with the vibrancy of our natural environment,” Powell said. “Also a custom thatch work art installation will be the focal piece of the space, connecting back to the unique culture of the Cayman Islands,” she said.
Colour will also be a significant aspect of the exterior of the building, continuing a trend in Camana Bay that started from the inception of the town.
“Colour remains a driving force with all of the design projects that we do within the Camana Bay community,” Powell said.
Another prominent feature of 60 Nexus Way is a 3,000-square-foot rooftop terrace that will offer 360-degree, panoramic views.
60 Nexus Way is already attracting the attention of the construction industry because of two building techniques never used before in the Cayman Islands.
The first one, a climbing shaft platform, provides a formwork assembly for the placement of concrete for the entire building core, level by level. The core consists of concrete walls — including the elevator shaft walls, the central lobby walls and the staircase walls. These walls are the main structural element providing lateral stability to the building.
The climbing shaft platform propels itself as it moves up the building while being constructed, said Senior Vice President Design & Construction Gary Gibbs.
“Once one level of the building core is complete, the climbing shaft platform lifts itself to the next level utilising hydraulics,” he said, adding that the assembly being used on 60 Nexus Way is one of the largest currently deployed in North America.
The other construction innovation being employed at 60 Nexus Way is the use of “flying” trusses, which when used side-by-side create large tables on which a concrete slab can be placed.
“Flying trusses have been around for a number of years, but this is the first time they’ve been used in Cayman,” said Gibbs. “After a concrete slab is placed on one level, the trusses are then swung out from the building and set on the next level. They are much larger than traditional table forms due to the use of deep trusses, allowing greater formwork spans.”
Both of these construction innovations save time, said Gibbs, noting that their use is expected to reduce the overall construction duration by as much as 30%.
“Traditional formwork needs to be assembled and dismantled and re-assembled many times, level by level, in a typical tall building,” Gibbs said. “Both the climbing shaft platform and the flying trusses entail the assembly of very large sections of formwork that need to be assembled only once during the entire project. They are simply repositioned at each level, reducing the extensive dismantling and reassembly activities.”
The two new construction methodologies also increase safety, Gibbs said.
“With less reassembly and site activity comes a reduced chance of safety incidents,” he said.
“Additionally, both systems have integrated safety handrails, toe boards and walking platforms, so safety measures are pre-engineered into the system.”
60 Nexus Way is scheduled for completion in mid-2022.
For more information about 60 Nexus Way, visit 60nexusway.ky.
This article first appeared in the April 2021 print issue of Camana Bay Times.
About the author
Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for four years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 17 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for the Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. Alan is passionate about food and wine and he loves to write about both those subjects. He is also the leader of Grand Cayman’s Slow Food Chapter.