January 21, 2020

The Editor speaks: The “iconic” tower Chamber members don’t like nor the current term limit policy

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Colin Wilson

Although our premier, Alden McLaughlin, seemed to be in favour of DART’s proposed skyscraper, Chamber President, Chris Kirkconnell, in his speech he made at The 2nd Annual Chamber of Commerce Economic Forum, held last week, said many of his members “had concerns”.

And so say most of us!

Kirkconnell said the “iconic tower” had been the subject of concern of many business people from all industries and from companies of varying sizes.

“An overwhelming consensus is that Cayman does not need to become a high-rise jungle,” he said. “We are already pushing our limited with the current building height restrictions and Caymanians from all walks of life, including members of the Chamber Council all seem to agree that a 50, 80 or 100 story tower or skyscraper planted directly in the heart of Seven Mile Beach is not only not a sustainable way forward for our island, it is not needed nor wanted by the larger community.”

If we start here with just one, you just see what will happen.

Bloomberg reported that a mile-high skyscraper may be possible by 2025. Exactly what are we proving to ourselves by designing and building structures this tall? Is there a height limit on cost-effectiveness? The reason for skyscrapers is to gain more rentable space, and make the structure economically viable because of the cost or availability of the land they sit on.

Can you imagine the Cayman Islands becoming a concrete jungle like Dubai or Jeddah?

In order to gain stability any building over one kilometer tall will require two or three buildings at the base, with connections between or among them at higher elevations plus bracing.

Going up doesn’t mean it doesn’t create additional design problems and more expense.

And as for our landscape changes. Not even just one iconic tower will be for the better.

It isn’t just the iconic tower the Chamber members don’t like.

Kirkconnell called for a review of the term limit policy, stating that over 70% of their members who responded to a recent online survey did not support the current policy.

“The survey received a good response from a cross section of business sizes and from a cross section of the Cayman economy,” Mr Kirkconnell said. “The respondents really showed us that they are unhappy with the current term limit policy that requires work permit holders to apply for permanent residency or leave the islands after nine years.”

“At the Chamber of Commerce, it is one of our key objectives to provide a collective voice for our members. Through the survey, our members have made it clear that the current term limit policy is disruptive to organisational stability; does not increase available Cayman employees and, while the route to citizenship should be encouraged, there could be an opt out option to allow individuals to remain here, subject to work permits.”

So, there are two things I can agree with the Chamber President on. And that makes a change for me.

Almost an iconic one.

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