Good afternoon, I am delighted to be here today on this most auspicious occasion – The official ground breaking of the Ottiwell A. Simmons International Arbitration Center. And to be joined by:
The Hon. E. David Burt, JP MP, Premier of Bermuda
Honored Guest, Mr. Ottiwell A. Simmons JP
The Milhouse Team – led by Mr. Wilbur Milhouse III
Mr. Charles Daniels – Architect
Mr Andy Burrows and Ms. Lynesha Lightbourne – of the Bermuda Business Development Agency
Mr. Chris Furbert, President of the Bermuda Industrial Union
Mr. Steven Moniz and team (Island Construction – the company that demolished the Valerie T Scott building)
Mr. Jason Smith and team (Smith Hauling – the company that demolished the Allenhurst Building)
Public Works team of Steve Conway, Sheridan Ming, Dalton Burgess and Dennis Reid
As Brother Otti is so well respected, a full complement of his support are also present.
In 2017 the Bermuda Business Development Corporation proposed that the Allenhurst property be converted into an International Arbitration Centre and in the 2018 Speech from the Throne it was confirmed that this would be the direction of the Government and that the new building would be re-named the Ottiwell A. Simmons International Arbitration Center in honour of this most distinguished Bermudian - and we are delighted he is with us today.
Although the facility is intended to serve as an International Arbitration Centre that brings with it the exposure and income for Bermuda on a macro level, the Government’s policy is that it must also serve as a mediation centre for residents who may have minor disputes, that if handled here could result in a reduction in costs and the number of cases heard by the courts or submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman. This will lead to the average person having greater, more affordable access to dispute resolution.
In March this year demolition of the Valerie T. Scott building was completed with demolition works of the Allenhurst Building scheduled to get underway shortly thereafter – only to be delayed several months as a result of the Covid-19 virus. Once the Shelter in Place was lifted the works recommenced and both sites are now cleared and ready for new construction.
In September last year the Principals of Milhouse Engineering & Construction, Inc., a professional, full-service engineering and architecture firm located in downtown Chicago, were introduced to the Permanent Secretary and I by Bermudian attorney, Mr. Kevin Bean, who now serves as General Counsel for Milhouse. We learned of their extensive experience in engineering, construction and developing water and sewage systems around the world and felt that Bermuda could benefit from their expertise.
Shortly thereafter the Chairman & CEO of Milhouse, Mr. Wilbur C Milhouse, III along with Senior Vice President Mr. Frank Martin visited Bermuda for initial introductions and discussions. Several meetings were held with our engineers and the executive management of the 3 quangos that fall under the Ministry.
In December 2019, I along with the Permanent Secretary, Randy Rochester and Principal Water and Sewage Engineer, Tarik Christopher visited Milhouse Headquarters in Chicago to discuss the master water and sewage plan for the country, and during these talks, it became evident that Milhouse, with its extremely diverse team of international engineers, architects, designers, planners and project managers, could not only provide advice on the water and sewage plan, but other capital projects. One such project was the development of the Ottiwell A. Simmons Arbitration Centre which Milhouse proposed as a public private partnership at no cost to the government.
A Memorandum of Understanding was entered into with Milhouse which delineated the responsibilities of each during this initiative to ensure its ultimate success.
As part of the MOU, the Ministry introduced Milhouse to the team at the BBDA who in turn shared their research on Arbitration Centres globally. A local architect, Mr. Charles Daniels was engaged to develop plans for the building, based on the research of both parties. The result was a set of plans for a 5 story building that includes meeting rooms, office space, retail space on the first floor in accordance with the City of Hamilton plan, a cafeteria, elevators, underground parking with private access for those wishing to remain discrete, to entertainment space on the balcony for casual negotiations or receptions.
The details of the financing of this project are being reviewed by the Ministry of Finance and as soon as we get the green light – the financing specifics of the project will likewise be reported. Construction is expected to begin in December 2020 and delivery of a complete building 15 months later in March 2022.
This will be a world class facility with the potential to not only put Bermuda on the map as well as to encourage local lawyers to go into the arbitration field.
I am delighted to introduce Mr. Wilbur C Milhouse III, Chairman and CEO of Milhouse Group and invite him to say a few words.