Wildey, St. Michael is a fast developing suburban business centre in Barbados. The area is about 4 km east of Bridgetown, the capital of the island, and is a primary conduit to the city.
Wildey also represents a bustling point on the ABC Highway, which connects conveniently to northern Barbados, the tourist belt on the South Coast and the Grantley Adams International Airport.
A number of commercial buildings exist in this area, along with the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, a primary recreation hub in Barbados, which features an aquatic centre, a gymnasium, hockey astro turf, and the national tennis centre.
The 10-acre site previously served as the location of the offices and operations of Cable & Wireless Barbados External TelecommunicationsLimited.
The prime commercial property, ready for development, includes a six-storey tower, several secondary buildings, and surface parking areas. Mature trees line its southern end, lending to the potential for a park-like development.
The site exists within a well developed network of local roads, is highly visible to motorists, and is directly accessible from the ABC Highway.
The site presents a myriad of development options. An initial feasibility study shows that the opportunity exists to build a mixed-use development, subject to planning approval.
A consulting team, led by Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates of Atlanta, USA, concluded that elements of the design should include:
The consulting team recommended a development approach that includes the main
principles of New Urbanism.
New Urbanism focuses on giving communities more character and diversity, and making them more livable. It emphasizes integrating the mixed-use approach into a walkable and traditional urban format.
This departs from past development practices, which isolated individual uses into separate pods, best navigated by automobiles and often within a suburban location.
The New Urbanism approach is evident in new developments in Barbados such as Limegrove Lifestyle Centre but glaringly missing from others recently built.
The plans for the development of the BET site acknowledge the importance of open space in the forms of parks, plazas and squares, and pedestrian-friendly street design.
The most loved urban places throughout the world are, without exception, oriented to pedestrian use. Streets constitute, by far, the largest component of the public realm and lend to the vitality and appeal of these locations.
Such pedestrian-friendly street design accommodates automobile traffic and also places priority on human scale and pedestrian activity to create vibrant communities.
Hybrid streets, which combine vehicular and pedestrian traffic, are known to be very versatile. They present the opportunity for diverse character - a transformation from workday traffic arteries to evening pedestrian-only promenades, where people can stroll or congregate around-the-clock.
The offices, shops, restaurants, hotel, conference center, and green space, proposed in the development plan for the site, can be organized around an internal framework of such streets. High-volume automobile traffic and parking could be restricted to the perimeter of the site, to create a highly desirable and unprecedented development in the Wildey area.
POTENTIAL CHARACTER OF THE DEVELOPMENT
Based on the proposed development plan, this rich public realm with spaces for walking, sitting and dining during the day or at evening, presents the opportunity for multiple architectural styles. These range from traditional to contemporary for sidewalk oriented retail buildings and for new multi-storey office buildings, respectively.
With such plans and a New Urbanism approach, the BET site provides an outstanding opportunity to create what could be the centrepiece of live-work-playdevelopments in Barbados.
The phasing plan proposed for the site suggests a four-part development sequence:
Includes the redevelopment of Building A, construction of new building B, and the parking needed to support both.
The roof of the annex presents an excellent opportunity for a roof garden and multi-use event terrace. This building amenity would present exceptional views of the island, and could be a strong component of the sustainable, eco-modern design theme envisioned for the building.
Proposes that the hotel would be the next logical and marketable anchor use for the site, which would necessitate construction of a new roundabout entrance and park spaces flanking it. Additional levels of the second parking structure would be added as necessary to satisfy the cumulative parking requirements for these two initial phases.
Infills the central portion of the site, including completion of the green space spine connecting to Building A.
Consists of a second large (100,000 sq. ft.) office tower, on the assumption that market absorption of office space might not justify this additional large area until some years downstream.
Limited Reliance on The Recreation Center Road for Access
The proposed development plan assumes that the portion of the Recreation Center road flanking the tennis and swimming centers would be reconfigured to provide a wider and improved multi-purpose recreation trail alongside a shared two-way vehicular street, which would require a strip of the BET site.
Although, ideally, the BET site would enjoy freer use of this street, perhaps only during business hours, the plan shows only two connection points - one being the east-west street between buildings D1 and D2 which provides Recreation Center access to the roundabout, and a second service access to building C.
Reduced Structured Parking
In response to concerns about the prohibitive cost of structured parking, the overall target parking ratio was changed from 4 to 3 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft.(a 25% reduction). The total project yield was reduced as well, from a total of 350,000 sq. ft. to 302,400 sq. ft. The number of surface parking spaces was increased, where possible.
Due to concerns about visibility and about noise and disruption conflicts during construction, the hotel and second office tower locations were switched. This adjustment improves the site plan in several ways:
The hotel layout also provides for a separate meeting facility (Building C), which can share the pool deck area as event space and can be serviced from the Recreation Center road. It also creates an additional retail opportunity (Building D2). Additionally, the assumed size of the hotel was reduced from 100 to 80 rooms.
Relocated Office Tower
This arrangement allows both office towers to share the same parking structure (P2). Since the second office tower (Building H) will not be built until the last development phase, this will permit “right-sizing” of this parking structure to accurately accommodate parking demands at buildout.
Again, in the interest of reducing structured parking requirements, the size of the second office tower was reduced from ten stories totaling 100,000 sq. ft. to six stories totaling 81,500 sq. ft.
Building F Converted To “Drive-Thru” Use
This location, which, with a smaller building footprint, can accommodate a drive-through canopy, should be very appealing as a site for a bank branch.
Expanded Park / Green Space
This reconfiguration of uses considerably expands the width of both the north-south and the east-west interior park spaces from the initial plan. These surface parking diagrams were prepared by Richard Gill Associates and are suggested as possible interim parking solutions for the existing building, in order to minimize grading and construction costs prior to Phase 3 site development.
For more information about this opportunity, contact
PAUL ALTMAN or TERRY HANTON