Golf resort and highway project await FCO approval
A partnership between government and golf resort developer Ironwood to build a $40 million highway extension still must be approved by the United Kingdom.
Government and the National Trust announced this week they had come to an agreement on the proposed path of the road, which is seen as central to the success of the Ironwood resort development.
Ironwood bosses met with business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, telling them they expected to have “shovels in the ground” on both the road and the first phase of the resort within three months.
But both projects still have several hurdles to overcome, most significantly getting the U.K. to sign off on the proposed financing arrangement for the road.
Ironwood has secured financing to build the road, and under the current proposal would be repaid from the revenue generated by duties raised from the golf resort and any other developments that occur as a result of road, under the terms of a 20-year “licensing agreement.”
Duties raised from Ironwood are estimated at $25 million, and duties levied from other development along the route of the road are expected to comfortably cover the rest.
The developer has indicated that it expects, eventually, to be refunded the full $40 million cost of building the road. However, there will be a risk-sharing arrangement between both parties in the public-private partnership.
In simple terms, the road is expected to pay for itself by stimulating development, including the Ironwood project, which will not go ahead unless the road is approved.
Whether this arrangement gets around the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility – imposed by the U.K. and now part of Cayman’s Public Management and Finance Law, which prevents government from taking on new debt – will be a question for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Government has said it is confident it will get approval, and David Moffitt of Ironwood told Chamber members on Wednesday that he was equally optimistic.
“I think with the momentum we have generated since the first of the year – the governor’s office and the premier’s office believe it is a doable project and we are on the downhill side of this now. It’s just a matter of working out the details with the FCO.”
If the FCO signs off on the proposal, the developer will submit planning applications for phase one of the project, including the golf course and town center.
They hope to begin clearing the route for the road, which still requires a business case and environmental impact assessment, around the same time – within three months of getting sign-off from the U.K.
Ultimately, the development will sprawl across 600 acres and include a hotel, conference center and sports village with homes for around 2,000 people, targeted primarily at “snowbirds” seeking to retire in style.
The later phases of the development are not anticipated to begin any time soon, with Ironwood estimating it could take up to 20 years to fulfill every aspect of the ambitious project.
Initially the golf course and town center will include 142 lots and 84 town homes.