Top stories of 2015: Dart's grand plans change Cayman landscape

The current and future plans of the Dart group continued to alter Cayman’s landscape in significant ways in 2015. 

As the two 10-story towers of the Kimpton hotel rose on Seven Mile Beach, the developer was already announcing its next major project. 

Plans for a dramatic $300 million expansion to Camana Bay that will link the town center on the North Sound to a new five-star hotel on Seven Mile Beach were unveiled in February. By the end of the year work on restructuring the road network to facilitate the development was under way. 

The project will involve the creation of two new underpasses and the rerouting of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, which will be expanded to four lanes. 

The plans involve elevating the land between Camana Bay and Seven Mile Beach to create an artificial hill rising to a peak of around 36 feet, roughly the height of a three-story building. 

The current plan is for the hotel to be set well back from the ocean spanning both sides of West Bay Road. Motorists will pass underneath it as they travel along the road, through an underpass. Camana Bay itself will expand to the west with the addition of new restaurants and retail outlets. 

Jackie Doak, the chief operating officer of Dart Realty, said the project would help achieve a long-held dream of “sea to sound” connectivity. 

Around $60 million worth of public works, including construction of the two underpasses, will be funded by Dart to facilitate the project. 

The Central Planning Authority approved the phase of infrastructure development in August, involving the re-routing of the highway and the creation of the first underpass. Work is currently under way. 

In December, government and the developer also announced they had agreed to a deal that will see the highway expanded to four lanes along the full length of the route. 

Dart will construct and fund the expansion as far south as the Lakeside apartments, where a new roundabout is planned to provide additional access to the Cayman International School and link to a future airport connector road. 

The $8.5 million cost of completing the expansion beyond the Lakeside apartments will be borne by the government, though the Dart group has agreed to do the work. Clearing for the project began in December. 

The deal with government also involved the US$14.6 million purchase by the Dart group of the Dragon Bay lands on the North Sound, previously held by the developer on a long-term leasehold agreement that had 75 years remaining. Dart initially plans to sell home lots around the North Sound golf course, on the site, but has not released details of its long term plans. 

Meanwhile, the developer is making progress on the Kimpton Hotel. The structures were completed in September and a launch event was held in November to announce that it would be named the Seafire Resort and Spa. 

The hotel is ramping up for a late 2016 opening. 

Dart was not the only developer making waves in 2015. By the end of the year, government was able to announce significant progress on two long discussed projects in the eastern districts. 

A development agreement for duty concessions was signed with Beach Bay Land Limited, in September, for a five-star hotel at St. James Point in Bodden Town. The developer later announced the appointment of an architect for the project and released conceptual designs. 

A development agreement for the Ironwood project, centered around an Arnold Palmer designed golf course, was also signed late in the year. Both the developer and government expressed confidence that the project was “a go,” despite their inability to reach a final agreement on a 10-mile extension to the East-West Arterial Highway, considered important to the success of the project. 

Kimpton boss Mike DeFrino, left, and Dart leaders Jackie Doak and Mark VanDevelde announce the name of the new hotel, the Seafire Resort and Spa, Seven Mile Beach in November. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

Kimpton boss Mike DeFrino, left, and Dart leaders Jackie Doak and Mark VanDevelde announce the name of the new hotel, the Seafire Resort and Spa, Seven Mile Beach in November. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

Construction work on Dart’s 10-story Seafire Resort and Spa hotel on Seven Mile Beach is continuing apace. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

Construction work on Dart’s 10-story Seafire Resort and Spa hotel on Seven Mile Beach is continuing apace. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY
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