Update on the Ottiwell Simmons Arbitration Centre

Friday, February 14th, 2020

Ministerial Statement To The House of Assembly, Lt. Col. the Hon. David A. Burch, OBE (Mil), ED, JP, MP

Mr. Speaker, it was November 1st last year that I reported on the state of plans for the Ottiwell A. Simmons International Arbitration Center – so I rise this morning to provide a further update.

Let me first acknowledge that we did not meet the deadline of December 31st. 2019 for demolition as mentioned in that statement for a variety of reasons – but most notably – few plans survive contact with this bureaucracy

Mr. Speaker, to remind - in 2017 the Bermuda Business Development Corporation proposed that the vacant property be converted into an International Arbitration Centre. And in the 2018 Speech from the Throne, it
was announced that this would be the direction of the Government and that the Building would be re-named the Ottiwell A. Simmons International Arbitration Center in honour of this most distinguished Bermudian.

Mr. Speaker, with a view to preparing for this project, the building was stripped out last year and a building survey was carried out by our Engineers who discovered that there were serious structural cracks to the external walls which would require the front and rear facades of the building to be rebuilt. It was also discovered that the water tank and electrical main supply is shared with the adjoining Valerie T Scott building – currently occupied by the PATI Commissioner’s Office.

Mr. Speaker, in light of the current state of the building, a decision was made to demolish it and build anew. Of course, a major hurdle was to relocate the PATI office and I am pleased to report that they are in fact moving today to new accommodation in the Maxwell Roberts Building on Church Street. In line with this Governments declared policy of reducing the amount of square footage for government offices by applying space standards, open floor plans, and digitization – in this case – the office will be co-located with the Privacy Commissioner – thus sharing common areas such as reception, meeting space, kitchen, restroom facilities, internet infrastructure, and office machinery.

The contracts for demolition have been awarded and all the service providers alerted to cease service – additionally, we have identified that the windows in the Valerie T. Scott building can be reused – so they will be removed before demolition occurs. Safety barriers should be being erected around the site today and demolition works are to commence next week.

Mr. Speaker, you will readily see that once construction begins on this project - a much needed further injection into this sector will occur and additional jobs will be created in our economy. Separately, Mr. Speaker, discussions are fairly well advanced towards developing a public-private partnership to build the Centre and once there Is an agreement – I shall report further to this House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker,