Dart's Kimpton: A bright spot rises on Seven Mile Beach

The Dart Group’s new Kimpton hotel is halfway finished — at least, vertically speaking.

Construction crews have just completed the fifth floor of the planned 10-story hotel building and are also busy working on the resort’s separate 10-story building for residences.

The Seven Mile Beach resort is set to be finished by August 2016, and should be open to guests in early 2017. When complete, the new Kimpton will add some 266 units to Grand Cayman’s inventory of hotel rooms — the primary limiter of the number of stayover visitors our country can expect to host through the year.

The opening of the Kimpton should create a positive ripple through the local economy; combined with the planned opening and expansions of other resort properties on the island, those ripples can become a wave of greater prosperity for the Cayman Islands.

But that’s the future. For the time being, simply the construction of the Kimpton is already benefitting people in the community. According to Dart, more than 30 local contractors, subcontractors and service companies are at the construction site. Those companies together employ nearly 300 people who are on site each day. In the month of November, crews logged more than 53,000 work hours, the equivalent of nearly 250 full-time positions.

At the peak of construction activity in the coming year, there will be more than 800 people working at the Kimpton site.

To date, Dart has invested US$62 million in the construction of the hotel. That’s a sizeable sum — but it represents only about a quarter of the total expected project costs.

Compare those hard numbers (and the concrete, brick and mortar) to the vagaries constituting the legal challenge by four West Bay residents who were attempting to overturn the Dart-government deal that involved the closure of a section of West Bay Road (to facilitate the Kimpton development) in exchange for Dart building the new highway extension to West Bay.

On that end, the courts have finally spoken … in a way … as the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal decided in late November to uphold a judge’s earlier determination that the four women’s challenge had been filed too late. Last Friday marked the expiration of a 21-day deadline for the women to file another appeal, to the Privy Council in London, if they had wished, meaning that the legal challenge has come to an end, for good. Good!

While substantive arguments against the road swap will not be heard in court, general arguments against the deal, against the project and against Dart’s mere presence continue to simmer among some residents.

We’ll attempt to put some of those to bed by offering the following observations:

The new highway extension has greatly improved traffic flows between West Bay and George Town, compared to the pre-existing situation with West Bay Road.
The West Bay Road closure (and the new parking lot built by Dart) has greatly enhanced, not degraded, people’s access to the improved public beach, by making the area safe for pedestrians.

No doubt, the West Bay Road closure has greatly increased the development value of Dart’s property.

The last point, far from being the admission of a flaw in the deal, was one of its main, and best, objectives. The development value of a property is simply an estimate of its potential value. It means almost nothing, practically speaking, unless the property is in the hands of a responsible, well-financed developer.

Without the deal — without the road closure — there would be no Kimpton project, and no new jobs or economic opportunities — ends that are well worth the means.
If Cayman wishes to continue to experience real economic progress, fancifully filed lawsuits should never be allowed to forestall developments of considerable consequence.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank God for this development . But what about Ironwood’s 60 million dollar road? When exactly will that be allowed to start? There are a lot of people on the other side of the island that need to pay bills . They would be paying a much needed revenue to Gov’t too.
    When will the cruise ship EIA be done? We already had a northwester. How many do they need to make an assessment ? Business needs to grow, the private sector is waiting patiently.
    Crime is tied to poverty all over the world it is not a new science. Jobs need to flow. Caymanians need to work for their money.
    What is the hold up on Shetty’s next phase? The Terminal deal?
    I hope after christmas will show new projects going ahead on time. Bureaucracy is not needed at this time.

  2. I believe that when the Kimpton is completed it will be another beauty attraction to the Cayman Islands. That is one thing I like about the foundation when they do something they do it well. A man with that much money could have chosen anywhere in the Caribbean, but he choose Cayman. What ever some may say about him, I just have to give credit that he has definitely opened up the Island and made many areas more attractive, given jobs to Caymanians and given a big boost to tourism industry; so If he choses to build a city on West Bay road it is his money.

  3. Great news to read after read about people disgusting feelings of bigotry. This place is a welcome plus to the West Bay Road area and the new beach facilities are great I for one didn’t like public Beach down there much before this, because there was never good parking and it was to close to the street, I hated to see all the cars parked in the sand.. I am really looking forward to plenty of visits to the new public beach now. It would be nice to have a small vendors market near by to grab snacks. I also hope that everyone contributes to keeping it clean and safe, the RCIPS should be encouraged to keep the area well patrolled.

  4. I am sure many people who have not gone to Cuba before will go in droves just for the sake of curiosity. However I am very sure it will not change the quality of people and investors that want to make Cayman their home. Their President is a VERY smart man, and they are VERY smart people, I lived amongst them for many years. So if anyone wants to continue to think that USA has an embargo against Cuba be my guest. Cuba loves Cuba and definitely do not want the outside world trampling their garden.

  5. I doubt many people will want to start sinking money into Cuba yet things changes. As for the Cuba loves Cuba thing I agree that a lot of folks may not want the outside world trampling their garden but the fact is that money talks and just like what happen in Cayman, Cuban’s will be lined up at the gates to sell of their family land and with a few new high end developments their tourism business will go through the roof They all ready have a cruise port but if they add a new modern pier they will surely entice a good part of the cruise tourism industry.

    Make no mistake about it this isn’t something Cayman should take likely, Cuba will be direct competition for Cayman in a lot of ways. Cuba has a rich and ancient culture they island is large and has a diverse ecological environment. If they manage to gain a reputation for safety they can easily become a more attractive tourist destination than Cayman.

  6. RE: Cuba. With every challenge comes an opportunity. Making these islands exclusive and expensive,just like St.Bart’s or Virgin Gorda is the way to go, in my opinion. But you have nothing exclusive to offer at this time. You keep destroying ecosystem, the only asset that you have. You keep needlessly and carelessly developing these islands. You don’t have truly visionary leaders to transform these islands into a gold mine catering to the world’s richest.

  7. You can not Compare Cayman to St Barts or Virgin Gorda on a good day. These two places have a product that their type of tourists are willing to pay extra for such exclusivity a beautiful and diverse eco system, they also have not just a reputation of safety but it is a fact that these places can truly be considered crime free. You will never hear of someone getting mugged while sitting in a restaurant or walking down the street in St Barts. Another thing a lot of people don’t know if that there’s also no income taxes in St Barts and the Country is debt free.

    Here’s a nice quote from one of their VP’s There’s no crime to speak of, It’s totally foreign to our culture, says Nils Dufau, one of four vice presidents in St. Barts’ government of 19 elected officials. He notes he doesn’t lock his car or his home.

    Now how many can say that about their home in Cayman ?

    Quoted from here:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-schulman/all-kinds-of-things-you-w_b_3972209.html

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