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CrazyFruits » African/Caribbean/UK/GeneralDiscussions » Solar-powered business centre for Grants Pen

Solar-powered business centre for Grants Pen

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A development company specialising in energy-efficient projects has invested $40 million in a solar-powered commercial centre in the often volatile Grant's Pen, St Andrew area.

Global Designs founder and managing director Gregory Duncan makes a point in discussion with the Business Observer while the company’s general manager, Catherine Carter, looks on in the parking lot of the development company’s business centre in Grants Pen, St Andrew.
Global Designs has partnered with the KSAC in building a market on leased land across the road from the Global Plaza complex on Fagan Avenue, providing vendors in the community with a formal selling area and reducing traffic congestion at the same time. (PHOTOS: BRYAN CUMMINGS)
Global Designs has partnered with the KSAC in building a market on leased land across the road from the Global Plaza complex on Fagan Avenue, providing vendors in the community with a formal selling area and reducing traffic congestion at the same time. (PHOTOS: BRYAN CUMMINGS)




Global Designs founder and managing director Gregory Duncan makes a point in discussion with the Business Observer while the company’s general manager, Catherine Carter, looks on in the parking lot of the development company’s business centre in Grants Pen, St Andrew.


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Construction workers contracted to Global Designs and Builders are putting the finishing touches on the 17,000 square-foot facility located at the intersection of Fagan Avenue and Grant's Pen Road.
The business centre, Global Plaza, is comprised of eight 750 sq ft to 830 sq ft office suites which, the developers say, may also be configured for use as retail shops. It stands out brightly in a community generally associated more with violent flare-ups than commerce.
"We actually look for undeveloped properties and develop them. We saw this on the market, did the research, and the prospect of the business was fine, so we went ahead and did it," explained Gregory Duncan, the founder and managing director of Global Designs, who noted that the location has the advantage of being a central point between several affluent uptown communities, including Norbrook, Barbican and Drumblair.
In order to combat the negative stereotype of Grants Pen, Duncan noted that Global Plaza was designed with an "open concept", without gates and other restrictive security features — though Marksman provides security services for the complex.
"The concept that we came with was a mindset where the plaza would not be restrictive and without the stigma that is attached," Duncan told the Business Observer.
In fact, Duncan stressed that the project was being completed "incident-free" in less than six months since the acquisition of the lot in March. Against this background, he expresses confidence that security won't be a concern going forward.
"The stigma (of Grants Pen) was shadowing it all, but if we can extract the positive that we have in our mind, we would see results like what we are seeing now," he said.
An important marketing point is the fact that Global Plaza is fully solar, a concept used by Global Designs in two past development projects, Rose Garden Apartments in Belvedere and Johnson Hill Estate in Hellshire.
"One of the main challenges that businesses have is high energy cost, so we came with the idea that if we could eliminate that just by incorporating the concept we use with the residential developments, we can make it more marketable and beneficial to the tenants," said Duncan, noting that Appliance Traders Limited, which has expanded into the alternative energy business, is a major supplier.
The upshot is that businesses renting the units "will be worry-free with no expectation of charges for energy consumption", according to the company website.
A restaurant, a chartered accounting firm, a doctor's office, a wholesale and a popular bakery are among the businesses that have already leased commercial space at the new plaza, said Global Designs general manager, Catherine Carter.
"We actually have more interest than we have space," Carter revealed. "We are trying to have a good mix of businesses on the complex."
What's more, Global Designs has joined forces with the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation in building a market on leased land across the road from the complex on Fagan Avenue, providing vendors in the community with a formal selling area and reducing traffic congestion at the same time.
"There is a pocket of vendors that converge on the weekend and so traffic is crazy. We saw the opportunity for Global to partner with Government and give back to the community," Carter said.
Duncan interjected that the strategy is "to create a commercial zone where we are".
"Currently there are no parking accomodations at the intersection and people will actually park in the middle of the road to buy," the Global Designs managing director said.
"The plan is to have a central commercial area with parking, bathroom facilities etc."
The developers have immediate plans to construct another Global Plaza in Portmore, St Catherine, which is part of a broad objective to have "one per parish", Carter said.
Duncan started his career in construction with West Indies Home Contractors Limited (WIHCON) in 1999. During his time at WIHCON, he gained significant experience in home construction, road works and development planning as well as honed his skills in architectural drawing, according to his company website.
He incorporated Global Designs and Builders Ltd in 2010 and is currently its sole shareholder. He credits RBC Royal Bank Jamaica for giving him his start in business.

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