Planning application is “first stage” of $300m development
Plans have been submitted for a small five-unit retail park off Frank Sound Road – the first sign of progress on a proposed $300 million development for the eastern districts.
The application, submitted Friday on behalf of Ironwood Plaza Ltd, is modest in scale, including space for a concierge office for Grand Cayman Villas and Condos, a takeaway restaurant, souvenir shop and 24 parking spaces.
According to developers, this is just phase one of a much larger scale project that will eventually encompass a championship golf course, homes and a new “town center,” including shops, a supermarket and a gas station.
At least some of the properties will be marketed to retired people, with the proximity to the Dr. Devi Shetty’s Health City Cayman Islands venture expected to be a key selling point.
Denise Gower, spokeswoman for Ironwood, said negotiations were ongoing over further phases of the development with announcements expected soon.
She said, “This is the first stage of a town center development for the overall Ironwood Community project. We are waiting on additional permission to go ahead with other phases at this time.
“This will be a development providing not only employment and business opportunities but offering conveniences to the eastern districts and a considerable boost to the economy.”
The Ironwood development website envisages a Camana Bay-style development as part of a large leisure complex bordering the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens in the eastern districts.
It states, “Ironwood’s facilities will feature a self-contained classic John Doak-designed town center with a host of retail shops including grocery, hardware stores and specialty clothing boutiques, restaurants and a movie theater; an Arnold Palmer 18-hole golf course and a sports complex that includes tennis courts. This town center will be an inviting place to shop, to mingle with friends, sit and enjoy the scenery or catch a movie at the cinema.”
It appears to suggest that construction will begin early in 2014, though developers have previously indicated that it will be built in phases over a number of years. The website, which features artist’s impressions of the town center as well as publicity-style shots, including many of older people – seemingly a key demographic, golfing, sailing and socializing.
It states, “Ironwood truly has something for everyone. The concept of Ironwood is both unique and simple, offering security, leisure, residences, the company of like-minded neighbors and great services.”
To date, last week’s application for a small retail park is the only part of the project to officially go to the Planning Department.
An artist’s sketch for the park shows Domino’s Pizza and Tortuga Rum stores next to what is described as a “concierge office” for Grand Cayman Villas & Condos.
Jim Leavitt, principal of Grand Cayman Villas and Condos, said the “plaza” would be a collaboration between “complimentary” businesses that helped better serve vacationers and residents in the eastern districts.
Mr. Leavitt said the plaza was currently his only direct involvement, though he is also an investor in the larger Ironwood development.
Of the plaza, he said: “It is just a small retail plaza and Grand Cayman Villas & Condos (Cayman) Ltd. will rent a space here if it is approved and built. We will have two other retail-type tenants whose businesses are geared toward serving not only the local Caymanian population, but the tourists as well.
“I actually approached our potential partners and tenants, based on each having complimentary businesses that could help one another.”
He said the concierge service and neighboring business would help provide a small boost to the economy in the eastern side of the island.
“Having a centralized villa guest services office no further than 15 minutes from almost all the rental villas on the island seems to make great sense and will provide villa rental guests with concierge-type services that they might find at the higher-end hotels or condos on Seven Mile Beach. All villa guests staying from Cayman Kai to East End will drive by our plaza a few times during their stay.
“The villa owners need to offer their guests more than just free kayaks in order to compete with not only the Seven Mile Beach condos, hotels and resorts, but also rental villas on other Caribbean islands.
“To my knowledge, no other Caribbean island offers a coordinated concierge and guest services operation for their oceanfront rental villas. If ‘Go East’ is a goal of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, this may help things along.”