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.