The statement came within minutes of the release on Friday night of reams of documents detailing a value for money assessment on the initial National Roads Authority agreement and subsequent amendments to it.
The NRA agreement has, among other things, dictated the terms of the West Bay Road closure in the Seven Mile Public Beach area and the extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway into West Bay.
However, those issues are not holding up matters. In fact, the break down of talks between government and Dart officials apparently had to do with a series of concessions offered to Dart Realty for the construction of a hotel on the site of the old Courtyard Marriott along West Bay Road.
According to Tourism Minister Cline Glidden Jr., Dart and government were about $16 million apart on talks over the hotel tax breaks and couldn’t seem to make up the difference. Those tax breaks, or concessions, were contained within the third amendment to the National Road Authority agreement.
However, Dart Realty Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak said late Friday that government and her company had actually agreed to a version of the third amendment of the NRA deal in April after “several months of negotiations”.
“But that was then taken off the table by the current Cabinet, seeking yet more last minute changes, at which point negotiations broke down,” Mrs. Doak said.
The value for money assessment, performed by international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, states that the development of a new hotel in the Seven Mile Beach area – including the closure of a section of West Bay Road – along with the extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway into West Bay, does provide value for money for the Cayman Islands government.
Economic benefits for the first hotel development on the site of the old Marriott were calculated at $755 million over 20 years.
However, some of the concessions being offered by government for the National Roads Authority agreement did cause PwC accountants some concern, which were reported in recommendations to government.
For clarity, the only section of the agreement where talks have broken down involves the third amendment, which – among other things – seeks the widening of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway at its southern end in George Town, and grants of land in Barkers and Smith Cove to government.
Dart Realty said it would continue to fulfill its obligations under the original NRA agreement, which currently includes work on the Public Beach park, completion of the Esterley extension to Batabano and continued design, demolition and construction work on the hotel which began in September 2011.
Please see much more on this story in Monday’s editions of the Caymanian Compass…