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. Second in a two-part series.
Tell us about the types of business you have attracted at Governors Square.
It was important for us to have a diverse selection of businesses to make the location a one-stop-shop for people looking to shop, work, eat and conduct business.
We see ourselves as somewhat of a neighbourhood commercial centre, which is always anchored by a substantial food supplier.
Attracting a major name such as Cost U Less was an important start for us because although not a true supermarket at least 60 per cent of their total inventory is food products.
I wanted a good balance of varied eating establishments to businesses, so aimed at five eateries. We have Prime – a Brazilian steak house, Perk Up coffee & cafe, TCBY for sweet treats and two new restaurants coming on board – China Village and Wine Down. China Village is already well-established in Cayman with two locations in the George Town area. They serve excellent quality, healthy Chinese food at an economical price. Their Governors Square operation like TCBY will largely be take-out. Wine Down will be a high-end tapas restaurant and bar with a fabulous selection of wines to choose from.
I also wanted a banking centre that was well established and chose Butterfield Bank for its excellent reputation and service. Other service providers such as WestStar and WestTel have also rented premises along with financial services businesses such as BDO (accounting), Marsh (insurance), Krys and Associates (liquidators) and Global Captive & SRS (captive insurance) and Hernandez & Co (law firm).
In addition we have a diverse selection of other business and retail shops. We have a salon – Spa De Soul, dry cleaners – Island Cleaners, real estate agents (Sothebys and West Indian Brokers), high-end jewellers (Balaclava), Bon Vivant cook ware which sells the top-of-the-range Viking products, Audiophile electronics store, Luxe Life gifts, Funky Monkey, Tortuga Liquors, a gorgeous new store called Welcome Home, which are suppliers of home furnishings.
Three new stores are on target to open soon, the first – Just Add Water will open in a few weeks, followed by The Hobby Shop and Stafford Flooring. We have also just welcomed Baptist Health to our complex. At the moment the service allows patients to pre-register here in Cayman so that once they fly to Baptist Health in the States, they are already registered patients.
How did you pick your tenants and is there any remaining space left for rent?
We were fortunate that despite not mounting an advertising campaign we received many requests to rent space at Governor’s Square. This gave us the opportunity to select the tenant mix that we feel will afford the best draw for each business to help the other. We wanted to ensure that we had a good mix and that they did not compete in the same line of business any exceptions were approved by the first tenant.
We have created incredibly flexible premises for our clients, so that expansion for our larger-sized tenants or indeed contraction of business can be easily catered for.
At the moment we are about 95 per cent leased up.
Anything else you may wish to add?
I also designed and created a conference room as my gift back to the community. Over the years I have served on many boards and as a member Rotary. It is not always easy to find a good location and facility to hold meetings particularly for charitable purposes. We wanted to make a contribution in this area. Our board rooms are state-of-the-art boasting a Creston system that controls the room, polycom platform for video conferencing, high definition projection equipment, a high-tech floating glass writing board, as well as a complete catering kitchen.
I designed the conference table myself and it can seat 28 people at one time. It has an oasis electrical system which allows up to 72 pieces of electrical equipment to be plugged in at the same time. I spent weeks on the design and construction of this room – ensuring that the room is totally blacked out when videos are viewed and that everything is designed and engineered to properly function as it should. It has been a real labour of love, much like the entire project!