Governor’s Square – a labour of love

In 2005 Caymanian businessman Bobby Bodden purchased around nine acres of land covered with vegetation and debris, the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan strewn across its expanse. Taking two weeks to ponder the location, adjacent to Seven Mile Beach and Lime Tree Bay, Bodden mentally created his master plan for Governors Square, a bustling and solidly-built shopping, business and restaurant complex that is able to withstand category five hurricanes. Four years later his plan is complete. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull sits down with Bodden to appreciate the evolving of Governors Square and reports.

What was your master plan for Governors Square and what key components did you have to take into consideration initially?
In 2005 I spent about a fortnight on site just letting the site talk to me. It was important for me to properly listen to the site; to see how my idea for a one-stop shopping/eating/working experience could evolve. I took into consideration any potential problematic issues such as sights, sounds and smells of garbage disposal, air conditioning units, gas tanks, electricity transformers and so on, and looked carefully at how the workings of the site would integrate with the front end customers. Accessible maintenance was another extremely important area to be considered. I needed to be able to ensure that maintenance of all key infrastructures could be undertaken swiftly and easily.

How did you accomplish this?
I designed my office to be the central control for all infrastructures. My office is located on the third level and is accessed by an elevator capable of carrying equipment weighing up to several tons. This means most if not all of the equipment on the roof can be placed there and serviced via my office using the elevator.
In fact, I can access every moving part of the development such as air conditioning units, other cooling units, extractor fans and such within 60 seconds of my desk!

How able is Governors Square to withstand a category five hurricane?
The complex was elevated to over 7 feet 6 inches even before the concrete slab was poured. After raising the site we then had to think carefully about drainage. We designed and installed a drainage system that consist of 24 wells each ten inches wide and each with its own catchment basin. We then linked all wells in the centre court together to reduce the possibility of failure. It has proven to be an extremely efficient design.
Our water supply has also been carefully configured so that if part of the supply is cut off for any reason, the remainder of the supply is unaffected. This was achieved by the use of two backflow preventers, one at the corner of the West Bay Road and Lime Tree Bay Avenue and the other on the north boundary where the site and the bypass converge. We have a three inch pressure main which runs 360 degrees around the complex. We are of course tied into Consolidated Water but as a back-up we have a cistern that contains 175,000 gallons of water.
The fire suppression is state-of-the-art. The pump that supplies water to the sprinkler heads can deliver 1,000 gallons per minute and is geared to run for 90 minutes. It therefore has the capacity to pump 90,000 gallons of water in an hour and a half should we have the unfortunate event of a massive fire. The system will take water from the cistern and when exhausted has the ability to take water from the city supply. The cistern is considerably over capacity for the fire system and this was done so the excess can serve the complex if necessary.
The construction of the buildings is built on a steel frame. We imported close to 100 flat racks of steel making it immensely strong. At the time of construction I was told that apart from The Ritz-Carlton, Governors Square was the largest consumer of structural steel on the island for a single construction site.
We have two 750k SDMO generators on site situated 22 feet above zero vertical datum (I hate to use the term sea level because the sea has many different levels!) The fuel tanks for the generators hold about 8000 gallons of diesel fuel and are able to run the generator sets for about a week. We are of the view that the ground floor premises might not be functioning straight away after a major hurricane, so the electricity from the generators supply the commercial businesses on the second floor enabling them to work uninterrupted. The exceptions are Butterfield Bank and the Police Training Unit both of which have full power back-up.
The roof is another engineering work-of-art and is designed by Firestone (the tire manufacturers). It has three independent drainage systems and the outer waterproof skin is TPO which is a heavy duty vinyl covering. Above my own office I have gone even further and constructed not one but two welded metal roofs for added protection. My own office is a bunker should a major hurricane hit.
All frames for the windows were fabricated on site in a special make shift factory that we set up during construction. We used impact glass and sturdy aluminum frames that are able to withstand category five hurricanes – i.e. able to withstand the impact of items hurled at it at well over 100 mph. We tested them by having the crane run over the glass: it fractured, but held together.

Next month learn about the types of businesses Bodden has attracted at Governors Square.



Bobby Bodden on the roof of Governor’s Square. Bobby Bodden with the easily accessible A/C units