Developers of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Health City Cayman Islands expect to hear if their application for mixed use planning permission is successful next month.
The Central Planning Authority is due to consider the application at its 8 January meeting, local partner in the project Gene Thompson told reporters at a Friday, 30 November news conference during which he and Dr. Shetty gave an update on the proposed hospital project in Grand Cayman.
“We’re confident that come 8 January we’ll receive full approval to proceed,” Mr. Thompson said.
The group on Wednesday, 21 November, submitted the Planned Area Development application, the first of its kind since amendments to the Planning Law in 2010 made such an application possible. Under this so-called “PAD” application, a developer can submit for approval a plan which encompasses various types of uses, including commercial, retail and residential, in a site of more than 40 acres.
According to the submitted plans, the first phase of the Health City Cayman Islands will be built on a 50-acre area at High Rock in East End.
The US$2 billion project is scheduled to be built in phases over a 15-year period on 200 acres of land. The surrounding land is owned by businessman and developer Joseph Imparato, whose company City Services also submitted a PAD application for plans in the immediate area to the Planning Department last week.
Mr. Thompson said the site was being filled and brought up to a level to prepare for the construction pad on which the hospital will be built.
He added that he anticipated that work on building a road into the property would begin about March next year, which would house water, electricity and telecommunication systems, with those being provided underground where feasible. An access road for construction vehicles already exists at the site.
Although the developers had hoped the first phase of the hospital would be up and running by November 2013, Dr. Shetty said he did not expect the first heart surgeries to be done until 14 months’ time – February 2014.
According to the submitted plans, the first phase of the hospital will be within a 107,099 square foot building, which will include five operating theatres.
Mr. Thompson said the existing road to East End would be sufficient to cater for the first phase of the hospital, but as the project expands it will be necessary for the anticipated heavier traffic to the site to use a planned new bypass, which will run north of the site as an extension of the East-West Arterial.
A larger airport would also be needed to handle the number of incoming medical tourists and their travelling companions by the time the hospital is fully operational in 15 years. The expansion of the airport is part of the agreement signed in April 2010 between Dr. Shetty and the Cayman Islands government.
The future expansion of the road network and the airport were factors in determining the 15-year build-out period for the project, Mr. Thompson said.
“We think that things will progress in a manner that we need … we are actually doing some infrastructure mitigation to take some of the load off the requirements of the public sector and handle them ourselves … obviously the airport is a big issue that needs to be addressed, forgetting about Health City, it needs to be addressed for the Cayman Islands,” he said, adding that he understood the airport was operating at double its capacity.
“We are led to understand there is some movement of getting [the airport expansion] in place and getting it moved forward. We’re confident phase one of the hospital can be sustained, it’s when we get into later phases that we will need the upgrade,” Mr. Thompson said.
The developers expect that in the health city’s first year of operation, the hospital will cater to about 70 medical tourists a day. Over 15 years, that will increase to 2,500 per day, more than doubling the current stay-over tourism numbers, Mr. Thompson said, adding: “That takes it up to about one million people inbound per year.”
The hospital would have its own sewage treatment plant, adjacent to the phase 1 building. The planning application states that medical waste that cannot be properly or legally processed by the on-site sewage and wastewater system will be incinerated on the property.
Medical and nursing schools planned as part of the project are expected to expand the number of trained Caymanian medical staff available locally, Mr. Thompson told the Future of Cayman forum last month. He said 90 local doctors, 900 local nurses, 693 local support staff and 693 local technical staff are expected to be working there by the time the hospital is fully operational in 15 years.
He said the hospital, when completed, is expected to have 9,000 to 10,000 staff.