Cabinet approves Dart, Roads Authority deal
The Cayman Islands Cabinet approved this week an agreement between Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd. and the National Roads Authority that paves the way for the immediate commencement of a host of infrastructure projects.
The agreement was scheduled to be formally signed Thursday afternoon, just after this newspaper went to press.
Although components of this agreement were part of the heads of terms signed with regard to the “mega deal” between Dart Realty and the Cayman Islands Government earlier this year, the main agreement has yet to be executed.
However, this week’s agreement stands alone from the main agreement and allows for the closing of a section of West Bay Road, the completion of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway to Batabano Road in West Bay, and the redevelopment of the former Courtyard Marriott Hotel.
Dart will pay an estimated US$35 million to complete the road infrastructure and will be allowed to recover $24 million in concessions. However, to get that amount of concessions, the Dart Group will need to continue to invest and develop in the Cayman Islands in excess of US$350 million.
Dart Realty Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak explained why the deal was signed before the main agreement.
“Government and Dart are acutely aware of the immediate need to get Caymanians back to work and signing the agreement in advance of the ForCayman Investment Alliance agreement allows projects to start, which will do just that – get Caymanians back to work,” she said.
Mrs. Doak said the labour-intensive projects that the agreement will bring about was “equivalent to turning on the engine of economic recovery in the Cayman Islands”.
“Work will begin almost immediately with construction commencing within 30 days and to employ dozens of people over the approximately 24 month construction period,” she said, noting that 30 Caymanians were already doing some work on the Dart-owned land where the Esterley Tibbetts extension will be.
About 2,500 feet of West Bay Road between Governors Way and Yacht Club will be closed, with the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension serving to replace the closed section.
The Esterley Tibbetts Highway is already in place between Governors Way and Raleigh Quay Drive and Mrs. Doak said vehicular access between those two roads would cease.
“However, pedestrians and bikers will be able to use a purposely designed, meandering bike trail which will provide the public with a safe and scenic coastal path – preserving the public’s access to the beach and the views along the way.”
One new aspect of the agreement is the construction of a road – an extension of Reverend Blackman Road – from the Esterley Tibbetts Highway to Willie Farrington Drive. That road will be constructed by the Dart Group, however they will be able to recover the costs at a later date.
The heads of terms of the larger deal calls for the Dart Group to give government US$20.5 million for education, community and training programmes. As part of the agreement signed this week with the National Roads Authority, US$5 million of that amount will be released, with half going towards a residential mortgage arrears assistance programme and half for education, parks and housing.