Business

A Dash of Culture

The Saltmills business complex pays homage to TCI heritage.
By Kathy Borsuk ~ Photos By Claire Parrish
Grand Turk, South Caicos and Salt Cay are traditionally known as the Turks & Caicos’ “Salt Islands.” Their vast salinas, into which seawater was pumped via windmill through a series of sluices for evaporation into high quality sea salt for shipment abroad, sustained the country’s economy for nearly 300 years. When that industry faltered in the 1960s, tourism, focused on the island of Providenciales, took its place as breadwinner. Ironically, one of the new era’s most vibrant business developments — The Saltmills — pays tribute to one of the salt industry’s most salient features.
Located in the heart of Providenciales’ world-renowned Grace Bay “Gold Coast,” The Saltmills is a thriving complex of over 80,000 square feet of retail, office and storage space. Besides its prestigious position with over 400 feet of frontage on Grace Bay Road, The Saltmills offers an appealing combination of cultural details and contemporary Caribbean architecture.
The two-story building structures embrace a charming “town square.” Flanked by palm trees and full-sized replicas of the namesake windmills, a raised, covered pavilion is the ideal place to relax and people-watch, sip a drink and enjoy the ocean breeze.
A touch of history
The inspiration behind the name “Saltmills” came from Salt Cay native Godfrey Been, who was a partner in the original design-build construction company for the project, Been Construction. Godfrey explains, “My grandfather Joseph Been was responsible for maintaining the all-important windmills which accelerated the flow of salt water into the Salt Cay salinas prior to solar evaporation of the brine into salt crystals. I felt this was a great way to honor his memory along with all of our ancestors who toiled in the salt ponds.”
The Saltmills’ developer, an American businessman with a longtime interest in the Islands, purchased the Grace Bay land in 2000 when there was no commercial development in the immediate area. The nearest tourist-related attractions were Ports of Call some distance to the east and Danny Buoys bar and restaurant next door. A few small residential developments, including Carpe Diem and White Rock, were also built at the time. However, the developer and his team sensed the strong potential of the area, based on its proximity to the many condominium resorts on the beach across the street, and started construction in 2003.
Design ideas stemmed from successful low-rise malls in the Cayman Islands, deemed to be suitable for Providenciales. Local architectural firm Conservative Architects, led by TCI native Anthony Walkin, themed the project with a local slant, as evidenced by the tin-style corrugated roofing, distinctive window shutters and pastel coloured detailing typical of Salt Island construction.
The Saltmills was prudently expanded in three phases, each eagerly anticipated by existing and new retail and professional tenants. With flexible spaces ranging in size from 500 to 4,000 square feet, there is something to suit just about every business need. Today, The Saltmills serves as a hub of commercial development, surrounded by additional resort properties, shopping/office plazas, restaurants and tourist-related businesses.
Something for everyone
Among The Saltmills’ many appeals are the wide variety and number (over 30) of businesses represented. The property is managed by BCQS Ltd., an independent firm of construction and property professionals, who have been operating in the TCI for over 30 years and in the wider Caribbean even longer. According to on-site Property Manager Rosie Nicholls, tenants are carefully selected to ensure that The Saltmills offers “a little bit of everything.” As you can see from the sidebar list, at The Saltmills you can enjoy food and drink; shop for souvenirs, home furnishings, art, clothing or watersports equipment; plan an eco-excursion or a wedding; do your banking; work out; visit a dermatologist; consult a realtor; purchase insurance or register for the national health plan; or investigate an out-island property purchase. Rosie says, “We have to credit InterDecor, Blue, FirstCaribbean Bank and Saltmills Café as our flagship tenants, whose presence helped establish, anchor and draw traffic to The Saltmills. We’re also excited about our newest tenants — ERA Coralie Properties, the National Health Insurance Board, McKnight’s law firm and Bornewell Marketing. The Royal Turks & Caicos Police force have also set up a branch just next to the bank!”
The attraction to local businesses, she adds, is more than The Saltmills’ prime and well-established location and professional environment. “Our rental agreement is all-inclusive, with no hidden fees. It includes all exterior repair and maintenance, even including window cleaning, allowing the tenants to concentrate on their core business. We work hard to ensure the property is well-run. And because we have lots of different sized spaces available, tenants have the option to move into larger or smaller units as their needs dictate.” A good example is the Blue Surf Shop, which sells name brand swim, beach and sports wear, along with watersports gear. It started in a unit at the back of The Saltmill’s first streetfront building, then moved to a larger unit at the front of newly constructed Phase II, just behind the pavilion. Its sister company, Big Blue Unlimited, now leases a second space, from which it operates a thriving eco-excursion company.
Other Saltmills stalwarts include: Treasure S & S Gift Shop, its small store bursting with t-shirts, dresses, locally made straw work and other souvenirs and offering the island’s best hair braiding; Anna’s Art Gallery, a beautiful source of paintings, jewelry and objects d’art by local artists; Ambiance Boutique, a popular place to purchase name brand clothing and accessories including Tommy Bahama and The Saltmills Café & Diner, which started as a bakery and morphed into a favourite place for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Besides being an enjoyable place to meet, mingle or relax, shop or dine and conduct business, The Saltmills — perhaps most importantly — manages to present and preserve a slice of the heritage of the Turks & Caicos Islands. This allows visitors and residents to keep in mind the struggles of the past that led to today’s prosperity.
For all enquires, contact BCQS Limited on 649 946 4238.

The Saltmills business complex pays homage to TCI heritage.

By Kathy Borsuk ~ Photos By Claire Parrish

Grand Turk, South Caicos and Salt Cay are traditionally known as the Turks & Caicos’ “Salt Islands.” Their vast salinas, into which seawater was pumped via windmill through a series of sluices for evaporation into high quality sea salt for shipment abroad, sustained the country’s economy for nearly 300 years. When that industry faltered in the 1960s, tourism, focused on the island of Providenciales, took its place as breadwinner. Ironically, one of the new era’s most vibrant business developments — The Saltmills — pays tribute to one of the salt industry’s most salient features.

Trademark windmill in The Saltmills complex

Trademark windmill in The Saltmills complex

Located in the heart of Providenciales’ world-renowned Grace Bay “Gold Coast,” The Saltmills is a thriving complex of over 80,000 square feet of retail, office and storage space. Besides its prestigious position with over 400 feet of frontage on Grace Bay Road, The Saltmills offers an appealing combination of cultural details and contemporary Caribbean architecture.

The two-story building structures embrace a charming “town square.” Flanked by palm trees and full-sized replicas of the namesake windmills, a raised, covered pavilion is the ideal place to relax and people-watch, sip a drink and enjoy the ocean breeze.

A touch of history

The inspiration behind the name “Saltmills” came from Salt Cay native Godfrey Been, who was a partner in the original design-build construction company for the project, Been Construction. Godfrey explains, “My grandfather Joseph Been was responsible for maintaining the all-important windmills which accelerated the flow of salt water into the Salt Cay salinas prior to solar evaporation of the brine into salt crystals. I felt this was a great way to honor his memory along with all of our ancestors who toiled in the salt ponds.”

The Saltmills’ developer, an American businessman with a longtime interest in the Islands, purchased the Grace Bay land in 2000 when there was no commercial development in the immediate area. The nearest tourist-related attractions were Ports of Call some distance to the east and Danny Buoys bar and restaurant next door. A few small residential developments, including Carpe Diem and White Rock, were also built at the time. However, the developer and his team sensed the strong potential of the area, based on its proximity to the many condominium resorts on the beach across the street, and started construction in 2003.

Design ideas stemmed from successful low-rise malls in the Cayman Islands, deemed to be suitable for Providenciales. Local architectural firm Conservative Architects, led by TCI native Anthony Walkin, themed the project with a local slant, as evidenced by the tin-style corrugated roofing, distinctive window shutters and pastel coloured detailing typical of Salt Island construction.

The Saltmills was prudently expanded in three phases, each eagerly anticipated by existing and new retail and professional tenants. With flexible spaces ranging in size from 500 to 4,000 square feet, there is something to suit just about every business need. Today, The Saltmills serves as a hub of commercial development, surrounded by additional resort properties, shopping/office plazas, restaurants and tourist-related businesses.

Something for everyone

Among The Saltmills’ many appeals are the wide variety and number (over 30) of businesses represented. The property is managed by BCQS Ltd., an independent firm of construction and property professionals, who have been operating in the TCI for over 30 years and in the wider Caribbean even longer. According to on-site Property Manager Rosie Nicholls, tenants are carefully selected to ensure that The Saltmills offers “a little bit of everything.” As you can see from the sidebar list, at The Saltmills you can enjoy food and drink; shop for souvenirs, home furnishings, art, clothing or watersports equipment; plan an eco-excursion or a wedding; do your banking; work out; visit a dermatologist; consult a realtor; purchase insurance or register for the national health plan; or investigate an out-island property purchase. Rosie says, “We have to credit InterDecor, Blue, FirstCaribbean Bank and Saltmills Café as our flagship tenants, whose presence helped establish, anchor and draw traffic to The Saltmills. We’re also excited about our newest tenants — ERA Coralie Properties, the National Health Insurance Board, McKnight’s law firm and Bornewell Marketing. The Royal Turks & Caicos Police force have also set up a branch just next to the bank!”

The attraction to local businesses, she adds, is more than The Saltmills’ prime and well-established location and professional environment. “Our rental agreement is all-inclusive, with no hidden fees. It includes all exterior repair and maintenance, even including window cleaning, allowing the tenants to concentrate on their core business. We work hard to ensure the property is well-run. And because we have lots of different sized spaces available, tenants have the option to move into larger or smaller units as their needs dictate.” A good example is the Blue Surf Shop, which sells name brand swim, beach and sports wear, along with watersports gear. It started in a unit at the back of The Saltmill’s first streetfront building, then moved to a larger unit at the front of newly constructed Phase II, just behind the pavilion. Its sister company, Big Blue Unlimited, now leases a second space, from which it operates a thriving eco-excursion company.

Other Saltmills stalwarts include: Treasure S & S Gift Shop, its small store bursting with t-shirts, dresses, locally made straw work and other souvenirs and offering the island’s best hair braiding; Anna’s Art Gallery, a beautiful source of paintings, jewelry and objects d’art by local artists; Ambiance Boutique, a popular place to purchase name brand clothing and accessories including Tommy Bahama and The Saltmills Café & Diner, which started as a bakery and morphed into a favourite place for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Besides being an enjoyable place to meet, mingle or relax, shop or dine and conduct business, The Saltmills — perhaps most importantly — manages to present and preserve a slice of the heritage of the Turks & Caicos Islands. This allows visitors and residents to keep in mind the struggles of the past that led to today’s prosperity.

For all enquires, contact BCQS Limited on 649 946 4238.



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Hobbyist photographer and Assistant Director for Research & Development at the TCI Department of Environment & Coastal Resources Dr. Eric F. Salamanca took this rare photo of a Bahama Woodstar hummingbird enjoying the nectar of Moringa flowers.

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