Mixed-use development proposed for Cayman Kai


The Cayman Islands Department of Planning is considering an application for a major mixed-use development on some 50 acres in Cayman Kai. 

The Kai Village planned area development in the district of North Side in Grand Cayman includes a hotel, small marina, homes, offices, retail, community centre, park and restaurant. According to the application, site preparation could begin late this year and construction could take place during the next five to seven years. 


Cayman Kai PAD  

The North Side proposal is the country’s fourth “planned area development”, or PAD, and the first not related to the Health City Cayman Islands project in East End. 

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A PAD is a master-planned tract of land of at least 40 acres that provides for a mixture of land uses, densities and open space. Essentially, a PAD application is a request for a zoning overlay to permit land uses that may not otherwise be allowed in that zone. Even if the PAD application is approved, the developer must then obtain planning permission to build the actual structures. 

The Burns Conolly Group submitted the PAD application on behalf of Criton Development. The Burns Conolly Group has also done two PAD applications for the medical tourism project in East End. 

The vast majority of the Kai Village PAD is located on the inland side of Rum Point Drive in the general area between the public beach and the Sea Lodges of Cayman Kai. The PAD is east of The Cays at Rum Point, by the same developer. It is in the vicinity of the LIME cellular tower and the Cayman Kai Tennis Association facility. 

The Kai Village PAD also includes one seaside parcel – next to the Sea Lodges – that is earmarked for a hotel. The inland side of the PAD is zoned low-density residential, while the seaside lot is already zoned hotel/tourism (and has been approved for hotel construction in the past). 


Four phases  

Comprising a maximum developed area of 700,000 square feet, the Kai Village PAD is broken into four phases. The first phase calls for the hotel, small marina, condos and utilities. It involves up to 350,000 square feet and has a construction timeline of between 2013 and 2015. 

The second phase calls for shopping, offices, a service station and boat storage. It involves up to 120,000 square feet and has a timeline of between 2014 and 2018. The third phase calls for residences, apartments, a police outpost, community centre and park. It involves up to 50,000 square feet and has a timeline of between 2016 and 2018. 

The fourth phase calls for retail, restaurant, offices and apartments. It involves up to 180,000 square feet and has a timeline of between 2018 and 2020. 

The application includes the caveat that the timing of the development is subject to market conditions. 

According to the application, other facilities in the PAD may also include gyms and a post office. The civic structures, such as the community centre, would be available for use by the general public. 



The application anticipates the hotel being four-to-five storeys tall, with a maximum height of 65 feet and a density of 100 rooms per acre. The height of the building is in line with the existing hotel/tourism zoning. However, the density is an increase over the current maximum of 65 rooms per acre. 

Although the proposed hotel generally conforms to the existing hotel/tourism zoning, that doesn’t mean it would automatically pass muster with the Central Planning Authority. In July 2007, the planning board rejected an application by CKV Development to build 33 apartments (in nine buildings) on that parcel, even though it admitted the proposal generally complied with planning regulations. 

In that case, the board’s opinion was that the mass, scale and height of the proposed apartment complex – approaching nearly 100,000 square feet – was “more typical of development along Seven Mile Beach” and would not be suited to Cayman Kai. The parcel was previously the site of a single-storey Cayman Kai resort with a partial second floor bar/dance area, according to planning records.  

In its reasons for refusing the application, the board also said that the proposed apartments would not assist with maintaining or encouraging tourism development in Cayman Kai because there is a limited amount of available land zoned hotel/tourism in the area. 

However, in November 2008, the planning board considered another application by CKV Development on the same site, for a hotel project with size similar to the rejected apartments. This time, the planning authority granted approval to build a 31-room hotel (in nine buildings), with two buildings for retail, office and a restaurant.  


Heights, densities  

In the part of the PAD earmarked for single-family, canal-front residences, the application requests a slight bump in allowable density, with minimum lot sizes of 6,500 square feet instead of the usual 10,000 square feet (or 12,500 square feet for duplexes). The application shows about 25 buildings in the single-family residential zone. 

The part of the PAD reserved for mixed-use commercial/office development shows about 15 buildings. The part of the PAD reserved for multifamily residences and the marina shows about a dozen buildings.  

The application requests approval to build the multifamily buildings to a maximum height of three-to-four storeys 
or 55 feet, with a maximum density of 32 units per acre.  

That is taller and denser than the existing zoning allows. 


Site of the proposed hotel for the Cayman Kai planned area development. – Photo: Patrick Brendel
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  1. Reading between the press release lines, what this really is, is a massive condo and commercial development that will involve significant loss of the mangrove wetlands in the area and the degrading of the appeal of the entire area for tourists. We have enough scars on the landscape. When are we going to learn that destroying the mangrove and allowing the further loss of the North Sound environment just to benefit a developer has to end.

  2. Site preparation could begin late this year and construction begins in about 5 five to 7 seven years.
    My question to every one, especially the developer.
    Does this sound like promises to fools. So I guess there will be ground breaking two weeks before next election, with a promise of construction beginning as soon as it is over. Can we really see over the tip of our noses on this?

  3. My family cherishes the natural, untouched North Side of the island at Rum point.
    It would be horrible to see it start looking like 7MB and all the cement and traffic congestion.
    How many animals, wildlife and fish habitats would a development like this harm?

  4. I don’t understand. Before there can be a massive development in a natural beach area like Cayman Kai, government should have laws such as having the developer allot zones such like beaches and wildlife for the public. Because I guarantee that when they build up what they want, especially alongside the sea, they will put a fence up for NO TRESSPASSERS to keep the public out.

    Its profit over people because our laws make is so.

  5. Subject to Market Conditions, means starting a project, no matter what it is, and when the market dies, so does the project to sit idle in perpetuity. The old Hyatt is an example. Rotting, decaying and an eyesore. Doesn’t that sound attractive???????

  6. As a frequent visitor and huge fan of the CI I am saddened by the thought of commercializing the North Side especially Cayman Kai. There is much natural beauty, peace and quiet that will be permanently altered my this proposed development. Will more hotel and condo space pull in new tourist dollars or dilute income from 7MB?

  7. Isn’t it interesting that the plans for the public parts of the development…. the park, the community centre…. Are years and years away from completion… Last on the list of the developer’s plan. Hmmmm. What does that tell you? It tells me they’ll never happen. Make those things go up first!!

  8. It is so interesting to see every development that starts to take shape around these Islands nowadays are confronted with an avalanche of objections from special groups or individuals who are crying out about mangrove wetland, spoiling the natural beauty, and the list goes on. Who all feels that its no need for development or progress in these Islands. But when our economy flops they are the first to go silent and remain silent or take the flight out.

    Hurricane Ivan was a perfect example. When the Island was flatten……all of these individual and interest groups disappear till the Island started to build backthen they started to pop out the woodwork and restart they campaign against progress.

  9. How many commenters have actually seen the plans? how do they know mangroves are being destroyed and that suitable environmental surveys are not being done. They need to be for sure and the development must be in keeping and at one with the environment but we are talking about private land that is currently not accessible to the public. If a development that is sympathetic to its environment takes place, creates jobs and tourism is that the work of the devil?? All change is not bad, it is a question of how it is managed. This is the responsibility of the government through planning policy and if the people who object and protest against change got off their ass and lobbied in a constructive manner for an effective, structured planning policy for the Cayman Islands maybe they could effect change for the good rather than moaning and griping after the fact, making little impact on the country they live in.

  10. NJ2Cay, put it this way. Beachfront properties where the beaches of white sand that are claimed to be privately owned, shouldn’t exist in my opinion. It is morally wrong with me. The beaches, lands adjacent to the sea, and inland natural sanctuaries, are not like any ordinary land. These lands were there untouched before everyone was born. Call me communist, but the beaches are God-made, and therefore it is immoral to limit access to them or take them away for a few people who have money to claim their ownership. That is my stance, that is my father’s stance, and that is my grandfathers stance…

    Whatever is God-made belongs to all

  11. Moot point really Bodden as all beachfront property from the water up to high water mark (which is not as commonly believed where the water has been in recent times but is in fact normally much further towards the land, something that needs to be taught to strata management and security) cannot be privately owned.

  12. That’s of course if you have inland, private property of which your home is situated on… But you dont need acres of land circuling your home to ensure you get your privacy. A house surrounded by a 100 feet of yardspace should be enough for you to call your own. There should be a cap on how much land one human being can own. What more do one person need for his or her privacy?

    This is the problem with Capitalism: It claims to own anything that it can buy with the almighty dollar. But how can that be, when some things have never been altered or created by mankind?

  13. Remember, Caymanians:
    He Has Founded It Upon The Sea.
    He did not have to do this. He chose a special place for it. He meant for its people to enjoy it, not to kill it by their greed.
    If you are willing to sacrifice the North shore to entrepreneurs and foreign investors, you are likely to lose a huge part of what has made Grand Cayman unique, not just to tourists but to its own people.
    There is a word that enjoys high currency in Cayman. It is the word heritage. Heritage will not do much good once the island has lost its identity.
    Think about it.

  14. Grandmatwo or whatever your alias is, if you had a single clue about how development worked you keep quiet. All but Ken Dart can afford to build the goodies first. Developers build the sellable stuff first so they can deliver the community stuff later. Move to Honduras I think they might still be turtleling there?

  15. This project if done properly will bring years of work for the folks in North Side and Cayman. slowly developing over time. From what I read it will be suitable to the location and bring good things such as a community centre and post office out there. The folks objecting probably have not even seen the drawings. I plan to go see them this week but seeing who did them I am sure they will be good..he was also involved in Camana Bay. Lets get the facts first before we just jump up and object to everything.

  16. Bodden, while I respect your beliefs and opinion. If you put it that way all land on this planet is god created and was there untouched before anyone was born. So do you feel the same way about the land you own that your home sits on ? Does that belong to all?

  17. Bodden, you make an interesting point at the end of your commentary, concerning capitalists who want to own everything. I recently read a comment by Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe that water should be treated as a product, and should be owned by corporations. With luck, that point of view will not sit well in Cayman.

  18. So according to some of the comments, private property belongs to God, the environment will be destroyed even though they haven’t seen any plans or proposals, public facilities must be built first so WE can use them FOR FREE, and this development will hurt the West Bay economy. How ignorant can people be!

    It seems no one wants development here in Cayman but Caymanians all want economic growth, they want to own their own business and drive fancy cars and live in big houses… yet they want the Cayman of yesteryear where dirt roads and mosquitos rained supreme. You cant have it both ways people!

    I think it is more jealousy than anything. Caymanians cannot stand to see another Cayman be successful, to get something they don’t have. Crabs in a bucket people, they cant stand to see one get out.

  19. There are quite a bit of people that don’t want more development in Cayman of any kind seems mostly because they want to keep paradise the way it is. I can understand and respect that but the problem is Paradise does not come for free. And the only way to keep Cayman the way it is without inward investment that will sustain the infrastructure and way of life in Cayman as well as pay off the ever increasing dept is for the people who live there to pay for it themselves, this is done by direct taxation such as Property and income taxes. So ask yourselves if you truly want things to stay the same way they are today and have no more development, are you will to come out of your own pockets to support that way of life. If you are maybe you should make it clear to the CIG the you’d rather pay taxes then have more development and are willing to deal with the consequences.