The owners of Margaritaville (Cayman) Ltd. envision constructing a 222-foot-tall “balloon tower” on the George Town waterfront – and then putting a bar at the top of it.
The proposed tower, capped by a red, white and blue hot air balloon structure bearing the phrase “Welcome to Grand Cayman” along with the Margaritaville logo, would be the tallest building in the Cayman Islands by far.
In comparison, when complete, the nine-storey WaterColours building on Seven Mile Beach will be about 130 feet tall.
While the Building Code caps the maximum height of buildings to 10 storeys or 130 feet, and then only in the Seven Mile Beach area, other structures are exempt from that restriction in the Development and Planning Regulations, including church spires, elevator towers, or radio or television antenna towers.
However, the heights of those types of structures are subject to the approval of the director of civil aviation, within the flight approach zone pattern of Owen Roberts International Airport. In the case of WaterColours, the developer had to revise the building plans in order to comply with the Cayman Islands Airports Authority’s stipulation that buildings in the area not exceed 150 feet above mean sea level.
A notice of Margaritaville’s application for planning permission appeared in the Caymanian Compass 1 November, followed by a three-week period for public comment on the proposal.
The Margaritaville balloon tower would be built in the parking lot on the north side of the Island Plaza building, which is owned by IHC Properties Ltd., a part of the Dart Group. The building is located on Harbour Drive near Cardinall Avenue.
According to the planning application, the project has an estimated price tag of $3 million or more. The project includes the tower, tower platform, 230-square-foot food service building and an 80-square-foot balloon operator building.
On top of the tower is a ‘balloon basket’ feature that could accommodate 24 people and would include 12 bar stools. The bar area would be located nearly 175 feet above the ground. The top of the balloon would have a height of 222 feet, 9 inches.
According to the planning materials, the balloon tower would be located directly behind Elmslie Memorial United Church, but would be accessible through Margaritaville.
The designs bear the logos of John Doak Architecture and Bruce D Robinson Design Group. The latter group, based in Ohio, has experience doing projects such as theme parks, waterparks, cinemas, museums, restaurants, nightclubs, gaming attractions and resorts.