By Andrea Lumsden
During the past year office workers around the world were forced to work remotely as a result of COVID-19. In December 2020, a Pew Research Center report stated that 71 percent of Americans were working from home (at the time of publication) and 64 percent of them were reluctant to return to the office. There’s no question those large numbers have profoundly impacted the commercial real estate market in the U.S. and other countries.
The opposite is true in the Cayman Islands, thanks to the containment of COVID-19 in this leading financial services jurisdiction. As a result, the local commercial office real estate market remains strong and demand for high-quality office space continues to grow. It’s interesting to note, however, that community containment of the virus is only one of several reasons why Grand Cayman’s office spaces are in high demand and why this British Overseas Territory is defying global real estate trends.
#1: A “COVID-free” community
The Cayman Islands Government’s quick and efficient response to controlling the community spread of COVID-19 included a temporary lockdown and curfews, which are no longer in place, as well as strict quarantine requirements for all travellers. The result was effective and allowed office workers to return to work by summer of 2020. Today, approximately 80 percent of office workers across the Dart commercial portfolio are working in office full-time. Companies leasing office space from Dart Real Estate have not decreased their overall office space, including those allowing employees to work from home.
#2: Resiliency of Cayman Islands economy
The Cayman Islands financial services industry didn’t skip a beat in 2020 and continues to fuel the local economy while attracting global investors. Dart’s leasing professionals have seen a recent spike in interest from overseas investors and companies seeking Cayman office space to relocate or establish their business operations. These entities are seeking a jurisdiction with a strong legal and regulatory environment, tax neutrality, a sophisticated infrastructure, stable government and professional financial services expertise on the ground. They include a growing number of family offices and reinsurers drawn to the strength of Cayman’s rapidly expanding reinsurance market, which is expected to surpass Bermuda’s top position.
#3: Long-term planning
Dart is among several developers and hoteliers with a forward-looking approach to economic growth in the Cayman Islands. This is evident in several active real estate projects island-wide, including Dart’s current development plans in the hospitality, residential and commercial spaces. Dart’s long-term commitment to the Cayman Islands includes Hotel Indigo, a new 282-room upscale beach resort on Seven Mile Beach. Additionally, expansion at the Dart-developed Camana Bay includes new Class-A commercial and residential buildings – 60 Nexus Way and Kapok, as well as a new 70,000-square-foot medical campus.
#4: Diversity of portfolio
As demand for commercial office space continues, Dart’s diverse portfolio includes Class-A and Class-B spaces with options for both long- and short-term leases and flexible lease arrangements. This allows the company to seamlessly facilitate a tenant’s needs as their business either grows, contracts or changes altogether. Portfolio diversity means Dart can also accommodate anyone participating in the Cayman Islands Government’s Global Citizen Concierge Programme by offering them a flexible arrangement with readyspaces, modern office spaces available for short-term occupancy.
#5: Confidence in the market
Although the local tourism sector was impacted due to the pandemic, Dart’s leasing team continues to receive enquiries for retail commercial spaces.
“We believe this is a result of confidence in the market,” says Jennifer Ebanks, Dart’s senior manager of leasing. “Cayman ended its lockdown last year and most residents resumed life as usual, which means they’re shopping and dining out regularly. Needless to say, we’re pleased about this confidence in Cayman’s market and continued economic growth.”
About the author
Andrea Lumsden has worked with Dart since 2013 and has been writing professionally since 2003. Graduating from university with a BA in Communication, Andrea has worked with clients across a range of industries, including financial services, hospitality and real estate. Raised in the Cayman Islands, she’s a bookworm at heart who enjoys cooking and travelling with her husband and three children.