Pedestrian-only zones part of GT plan

Glass House to be replaced with park


Improving the roads network, making parts of downtown pedestrian-only areas and changing zoning to allow new types of development are among some initial ideas put forward by government for the revitalization of George Town. 

The old government building, known as the Glass House, will be demolished and replaced with a park, paid for by a private donor, as part of the redevelopment.  

Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts said government’s aim is to put the physical and regulatory infrastructure in place to stimulate new development in the capital. 

Speaking to business leaders at a Chamber of Commerce lunch last week, Mr. Tibbetts urged them to “put your money where your mouths are” and help reverse the “steady drain” of life from George Town. 

He said, “This is not just a face-lift or a beautification project, it is meant to be the true restoration of our capital into a bustling mixed-use neighborhood for businesses, residents and the tourists that visit our shores.” 

Mr. Tibbetts told the Cayman Compass he believes government’s role will be as a facilitator for private sector development. He said $20 million is being spent on improving road connectivity, and more money would be spent on beautifying sidewalks and making the town more pedestrian friendly, but the main investment would have to come from private sector projects. 

The proposed improvements will tie in with a number of planned projects, including the new cruise piers in George Town harbor. 

Mr. Tibbetts hopes the private sector will get involved in projects, potentially including multi-story parking garages on the edge of the downtown district, freeing up land currently used for parking to be used for development. 

An outline plan, presented by Tristan Hydes, deputy chief officer in Mr. Tibbetts’s ministry, and Kenneth Ebanks, a consultant on the George Town project, included the potential use of “trolleys” in the capital – tram-style vehicles that could ferry tourists into newly created pedestrian zones as part of a park-and-ride scheme. 

According to the officials, a number of developments, including a hotel and a supermarket, with office space and housing above, have been proposed and could proceed once necessary zoning changes are made. 

No mention was made of the cargo docks, long considered a barrier to improving nightlife in George Town. 

Mr. Ebanks said the plan could involve turning Fort Street and the southern part of Albert Panton Street into pedestrian zones. 

Parts of Harbor Drive could also be pedestrian areas or turned into a one-way street in order to improve pedestrian access. The proposals also involve tree planting to create additional shaded areas on sidewalks in the capital. 

The ideas and slideshow, presented by Mr. Ebanks and Mr. Hydes, were characterized as conceptual thoughts rather than concrete plans. Mr. Ebanks said the next step is to reach out to stakeholder groups and finalize a draft plan for the capital in the next few months. 

Mr. Tibbetts said funding the roads would be the government’s main financial contribution. 

“This plan that we are devising is to set the stage so that we don’t have development being done in an ad hoc fashion. 

“When we talk about expense, that is all to do with private sector development. The private sector are going to be spending money, yes, to revitalize the district, but they are doing that on a commercial basis.” 

The former government building, known as the Glass House, will be demolished and replaced with a park, paid for by a private donor, as part of the proposed redevelopment. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay


  1. Who on Earth is going to use this " Glass House Park ". Certainly no tourists. And there is no local residential community whose Mothers might take their children there to play, or for a picnic. Green areas in GT do need to be preserved but, perhaps a higher priority is to create greater parking space close to central GT. And, without turning the whole site into an asphalt jungle, perhaps this would be a more practical use – which could use the same type of proposed trolley system to shuttle people in the business centre.

  2. Mr Ebanks seems to have his head in the clouds.Fort St, Harbour Drive and Cardinal Avenue are vital to efficient traffic flow in Central George Town. Has he not seen the gridlock that occurs when any of these key roads are closed for occasional social events?.I would be very interested to learn what "road improvements" will circumvent this problem.
    A few local businesses may benefit but thousands of residents would be seriously inconvenienced.I suggest these conceptualists take a close look at what happens when even one of these roads is closed.

  3. Plan, Ponder, conceptualize, consider, consultants, proposals, reviews, analyze, evaluate, assess, examine, investigate, inquire, probe, inspections, studies….Blah Blah Blah Blah.

    These are all words used by people who talk a good game while nothing gets done. How about this for the quickest way to improve Georgetown. CLEAN UP THE DARN DUMP ALREADY or let someone else do it..

  4. I have to agree these sound like good plans and people should not talk about no residential community whose mother would not want to take their children there to play. But see yaw !! So who are we? What Higher priority? We are called local Caymanians? Stop shooting down the project. Every city has a park, Why should we not consider this park to be for locals? Why should I not take my children there? Why do we have to cater it to tourist every where on the Island? Why can it not be used by the people of George Town to hold special functions like Heritage Days and other family events instead of having to close off the streets in George Town every year. I SUPPORT IT BECAUSE THE LOCAL PEOPLE NEED SOMETHING TOO. Many areas of George Town need to be re Zoned and developed. I support a park being constructed on the old Glass house area. It has surrounding culture and heritage. Right now it being across from the immigration Department and you see people hanging about on the sides of the fence and in peoples yard shading from the sun waiting, Would it not be nice to sit in the park for a few minutes to converse. I believe that the park would do very well. Police station next door and and to have a security watch.
    Also in the center of George Town around the Freeport shopping areas should be pedestrians only especially to accommodate cruise ship visitors. I Support and Looking forward to see the new proposed projects develop. After all we want something too.

  5. Michael I also have to agree with you too because trust me I have heard my share of Blah, Blah, blah.
    I say it is two years before election, and this is when the Blah, blah, blah, begins. But surely I will be questioning the Blah, blah, blah promises if they are not completed on the eve of election. Someone has to hold people responsible for the Blah, blah, blah, Bling, bling, bling Blah just to fool people. Well Michael we shall see. Hang in there.

  6. Thank you Twyla for your positive posts. Others seem to be against any revitalization of George Town. At the same time some are busy with a lot of blah,blah,blah about blah,blah,blah,and never appear to have anything positive to say about things Caymanian. Isn’t it strange that we never seem to see the names of these same bleating people attached to any positive project here in Cayman.

  7. I’ve had this idea too for a while. I think they should consider making the entire square between the waterfront and Edward street on the west/east and Shedden/Fort on the north/south pedestrian only. Of course this would require some redevelopment of surrounding streets to circumvent, but ultimately would work out better to eliminate traffic in and around the immediate waterfront area. One idea could be extend Eastern Ave through to Elgin which would give people easier access to the backside of GT.

    The main problem is the lack of planning that went into the design of the streets in an around GT many years ago. No one put together a good plan to accomodate growth and now we’re dealing with a traffic and parking nightmare, which also doesn’t serve pedestrians well.

    Not that any of this will help revitalise the area for tourist/night life. That ship has mostly sailed with the waterfront area primarily designed for cruise ship passengers and interior GT designed for business. There just isn’t room for anything to be built that would entice people there on a regular basis without tearing a lot out and starting from scratch.

  8. When I first lived here over 30 years ago I would regularly go into central George Town.
    Now hardly ever, and if I do it is on non-cruise ship days and I get out as soon as I can.

    Why? There is nothing there that I need. The nice little shops that used to be there have gone as they can”t afford the same rent as yet another business selling jewelry or T shirts.

    And parking is impossible.

    Add to this the constant crime reports and George Town has become a de facto no-go area.

    In the exact same way you don’t see many Londoners wandering around Piccadilly Circus in London or Times Square in New York. It’s tourists only.

    Want to REALLY revitalize George Town? Then forget about the cruise ship port and making our capital a cruise ship destination.

    If the cruise ship vendors move out and rents come down there might be a return to the old days.

  9. As I get older I really don’t see myself seating in a park type setting with my grandkids. I would probably see more of my classmates seating in a shady spot with some breeze blowing talking about the good old days hopefully with a cigar and a drink and a view.
    We have so many things for children to do at home while getting dinner and homework done.
    But nothing for people who don’t have children and older retired adults to do. It would be nice to park my car at glasshouse and ride a trolley and sit and watch people running around from the cruise ship or hotel and maybe just maybe they might find a Caymanian to talk to before they leave .