Retail market on the rebound

Retail space in the Grace Bay area is booming. Several shopping plazas featuring retail and other commercial space are right off the beach on Providenciales.


As the profile of the Turks and Caicos visitor evolves, multiple indicators suggest that increased demand for things to see and do will equate to increased demand for retail space and commercial real estate.

“In the last six to 12 months, demand has started picking up,” said Rosie Nicholls, a chartered surveyor (what people in North America would typically call a real estate appraiser) who specializes in the commercial and retail market on Providenciales.

Nicholls works as an associate director for BCQS, a property and development consultancy with offices across Latin America and the Caribbean, and manages the commercial property at Saltmills Plaza in Grace Bay, which she says currently has a waiting list for new tenants for their ground floor retail units.

That is a big turn-around from just eighteen months ago. The economy is directly tied to the performance of the tourism industry, so recent activity in the retail and commercial sectors has largely been the result of recovery from the worst of the recession.

With Providenciales’ high-end retail sector shifting to Grace Bay from downtown over the past 10 years, a surge in demand for retail/commercial space brought a new wave of mixed-use properties onto the market just as the global economy plunged into recession in 2007-08. The resulting glut initially brought the retail real estate market to a standstill, and rents dropped.

Providenciales – which represents roughly 80 percent of the nation’s population and economy – has developed three commercial areas, each with a distinct identity.

Downtown is evolving into an affordable place to shop and do business, buoyed in part by several government offices and close proximity to the airport. What’s come to be described as Midtown is anchored by shopping developments such as the Graceway Plaza, Courtyard Plaza and La Vista Azul in Turtle Cove.

Grace Bay, with its resorts and high-end residential developments, is thriving as a destination for luxury shopping and dining. It’s also the preferred address for upscale professionals who cater to the affluent.

Commercial retail outlets on Providenciales tend to be a mix of retail with offices on the upper floors, and while office space remains largely available, retail rental and purchase prices have started to rebound. “Everybody wants to be on Grace Bay Road, so that’s at a premium,” said Nicholls.

For smaller, storefront businesses, Grace Bay’s modern inventory offers everything from managed rentals to long-term leases or lease-to-buy options and opportunities for companies to purchase retail and commercial space outright. This gives new ventures a wide array of investment possibilities depending on the start-up capital available to them.

“Provo has really turned a corner. There seems to be a lot more confidence in the market now with a couple of new developments which are happening,” said Nicholls.

Other islands are also seeing growth in the retail market, such as the new 23,000 sq ft retail plaza on Front Street on Grand Turk that is seeking qualified tenants to operate the spaces.

Image: Saltmills Plaza