This month I thought it would be a useful exercise to highlight all the new construction and development projects that are taking place across the Cayman Islands, emphasizing the fact that Cayman’s economy is currently in a very positive growth period.
Sister Islands growth
One sector of the economy that often gets overlooked is Grand Cayman’s Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. However, I am pleased to note positive development for Cayman Brac with the recent reopening of the newly named Cayman Brac Beach Resort, with a new bar and lagoon-style swimming pool at the ocean’s edge.
Cayman’s Premier Alden McLaughlin was there for the reopening last month of this extremely important accommodation for the island. Far better connected than Little Cayman with its Sir Captain Charles Kirkconnell International Airport, Cayman Brac stands to benefit greatly from this enhanced new development.
Little Cayman, in comparison, will remain the quiet “Sister,” while its airport remains without development. However, it is pleasing to note that there are some beautiful high-end homes on the island which have recently seen impressive upgrades, showing that private investors are appreciating the benefits of Little Cayman’s mainly undiscovered beauty.
Airport expansion continues
As far as Grand Cayman goes, I believe the airport expansion, a $55 million project in total, is far and beyond the most important infrastructure enhancement the island is currently seeing taking shape. Last September we saw government signing the initial $3.6 million construction contract with Arch & Godfrey to start work on the first phase, which will eventually enlarge the Owen Roberts International Airport from 77,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet. Opening is expected by the end of 2018. This is hugely important for the island, providing vital access for long-haul flights, and overall offering Cayman the opportunity to provide a vastly improved airlift service for its tourists.
Dragon Bay soon to be freehold
Some 280 acres of Crown property, currently under a long-term lease to Dart, has been proposed to be vested to freehold. The sale of the property has been gazetted by government and a report will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly by the Cabinet minister responsible for lands, for 21 days. During this time, there may be a motion to reject the report, causing the motion to be voted on by the Legislative Assembly, before this can be finalized. This would bring in more than $14.5 million for government.
Busy development in South Sound
South Sound is seeing a surge of impressive development, with a good variety of projects taking place along the south side of the island, all ocean-facing:
Davenport Development is building the first phase of Vela, a 168-unit condo complex around an Olympic-size swimming pool, the first phase of which has already sold out. The second phase is currently 30 to 40 percent sold.
The NCB Group has begun advance sales on its Tides project, a multimillion-dollar energy-efficient project with 24 oceanfront condos. This is a very exciting project as each unit will have glass skirts, so floor to ceiling glass, adding an exciting new property offering to this location.
Baraud Development Ltd. is producing The Shore Club, an upscale six-residence project, with only one residence remaining available for sale.
Chinese company Datang Investments has begun working on infrastructure for its South Sound development as well.
Another big ticket investment project is of course Dart/Camana Bay’s $300 million expansion to Camana Bay. The current road development, to the tune of $60 million to create two new underpasses on West Bay Road and the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, is crucial for the improvement of Cayman’s infrastructure, in my opinion. The expansion of the highway to four lanes will be brilliant for Cayman because it will alleviate a lot of the traffic pressure that builds up at the point of school drop-off and pick-up, thereby creating a far smoother drive from George Town to West Bay and back. I would, however, hope that government is already thinking about how to alleviate the bottleneck that is still occurring at the DMS roundabout, by Hurley’s, heading east in the late afternoons. While it is good that the connecting Godfrey Nixon Way and Smith Road expansion projects have been successfully completed, it is hoped that North Sound Road will see similar widening also.
Kimpton readies for November opening
In tandem with the Camana Bay development is the grand opening of the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa, scheduled for November of this year. This will be a momentous and much-anticipated occasion, marking a new era of visitors to the island.
Ironwood plows ahead
The mixed-used Ironwood community project in Frank Sound, with an estimated development cost of $365 million, is also beginning to take off. It will be a huge asset to that part of Grand Cayman, with its fantastic Arnold Palmer golf course, town center, tourist accommodation, private homes, shops and cinema offering a great and much needed boost to the eastern districts.
Margaritaville takes over
The run-down Treasure Island hotel will be transformed into a Margaritaville resort following the purchase of the property by the Miami-based Howard Hospitality Group. There will be 110 condominium suites at the new hotel, with approximately 75 percent already sold in the first phase of sales.
The multimillion-dollar renovation of the hotel will take place in phases, starting early this year. The resort, which will feature 280 rooms, multiple bars and restaurants and designated kids zones with a two-story pool slide, is slated to open in December. The second phase of sales has already opened well and prices are already higher than in the first phase.
Health City expands
Cayman’s rapidly developing new hospital, Health City Cayman Islands, recently announced that it will be investing $25 million to construct new oncology and outpatient units, with construction starting midyear. This is another incredibly exciting development for the island, which will only serve to enhance the already superb range of services that the facility currently offers its patients.
Cayman Enterprise City looks ahead
Another very important project that is happily moving forward is Cayman Enterprise City’s planned new location. CEC announced at the end of last year the acquisition of a 50-acre site, near central George Town, where the special economic zone’s permanent 850,000-square-foot campus will be built. Again, it is hoped that government has already drawn up a clear plan for alleviating traffic buildup, which will no doubt happen once this area becomes populated.
I hope this synopsis gives you a valuable insight into how the Cayman Islands is poised for tremendous growth in the coming years. Strengthening our infrastructure by providing better transportation links, a broader range of accommodation and homes, more healthcare services and so on means a brighter future for all of us.
James Bovell is a broker/owner for RE/MAX Cayman Islands.