Marina, Emerald Sound backup, GT boardwalk on CPA’s plate

The Central Planning Authority has several eye-catching proposals on its agenda today, including a new North Sound marina, the “backup plan” for Emerald Sound in South Sound, and a boardwalk along George Town harbour. 

 

North Sound marina 

Silverfin Development Company is submitting the SafeHaven marina facility application on behalf of the Port Authority, “pursuant to the agreement (January 2009) between the Port Authority, Cayman Islands government and Fujigmo Limited & Cesar Hotelco (Cayman) Ltd.,” according to the agenda. 

Fujigmo and Cesar Hotelco belong to Mike Ryan, the developer of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, and Dragon Bay. Port Authority Board Chair John Henry Ebanks said the marina plans are essentially the same as were agreed upon between 2004 to 2009. The authority has been dealing exclusively with Mr. Ryan. 

“The only change requested in recent times is that the facility will also contain metres for electricity and water,” Mr. Ebanks said. 

Vessels will be charged set fees in order to use electricity and water at the marina. Mr. Ebanks said the marina operates as a service to the community, and the authority is not looking to turn a profit on utility fees. However, he said, “We certainly must be able to meet the costs of running the facility.” 

The application specifically calls for a $1.5 million, 2,600-square-foot, single-storey office building, two cabanas and 20 boat slips on 5.5 acres off Turnberry Drive. 

In late 2011, Mr. Ryan said he had offered the government $10 million plus an additional 2 per cent stamp duty on land transfers, in exchange for freehold title to the Ritz/Dragon Bay property, which Mr. Ryan has on a 99-year lease. Mr. Ryan said he had investors ready to pay and the marina project could begin within three months. 

In March 2009, the Compass reported Mr. Ryan and the Port Authority had agreed to build a US$6 million marina at SafeHaven, just west of the authority’s existing dock. The government and Mr. Ryan would swap the old marina for the new marina. Mr. Ryan said construction would take a year. 

 

Emerald Sound ‘backup’ 

Company J.R. Holdings is applying for a 23-lot residential subdivision and excavation of two lakes on 88 acres off South Sound Road, east of Bel Air Drive. In January, architect Burns Conolly said the application – for the “Adagio Community Subdivision” – is a “backup plan” for the Emerald Sound project, in case Cabinet does not approve the developer’s coastal works licence application. 

If the Planning Authority OK’s the new application, that doesn’t negate approval for Emerald Sound, comprising 81 houses, 160 apartments, canals and a bridge. 

The Planning Authority’s August 2011 approval of the inland aspects of Emerald Sound is under appeal. 

Developer Rene Hislop and the National Roads Authority have initiated the procedure to swap land in order to relocate about 2,300 feet of South Sound Road some 30 to 75 feet inland. The existing road would be retained as an access road to the seaside house lots. The Roads Authority Board hasn’t deliberated upon or rendered a decision on the road realignment. 

The Department of Environment raised concerns that the proposal calls for the two lakes to have depths of 30 and 35 feet, covering 19.5 acres and yielding more than 1 million cubic yards of fill. Saying it does not support lake depths exceeding 14 feet, the department said if any fill leaves the site, the excavation is deemed to be a quarry. Similarly, the Water Authority said it would only OK a maximum lake depth of 20 feet. 

 

Downtown boardwalk 

Also on today’s agenda is a plan for a 0.25-mile boardwalk/sidewalk on the seaside of North Church Street, running from the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal to the building that houses La Dolce Vita Restaurant. The sidewalk varies in width from 5 to 10 feet and includes benches and planters. 

Architect Robert Johnson, of project manager Chalmers-Gibbs Architects, said, “It’s a beautification project, an urban plan which is intended to give pedestrians an avenue along that street.” 

Mr. Johnson said the project has been in the works for nearly two years, and his firm has been involved for about eight months. The project involves 16 entities, including landowners and businesses in the area. He said the idea is more than a sidewalk – though the area desperately needs one – rather, the intention is to create a link from the harbour to Seven Mile Beach that is also an attraction in and of itself. “It does a lot of things. It doesn’t just string businesses together. It provides something for cruise visitors to do, something for locals to do,” he said. 

He wants the boardwalk to include tributes to the history of the area, for example, boatbuilding, shipwrecks, diving and snorkelling. “We are putting down a piece of infrastructure to allow for more development along that retail corridor,” he said. 

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