Dart, gov’t sign amended partnership agreement

Premier Alden McLaughlin and Dart Realty’s Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak shake hands over the third amendment to the NRA agreement.

Developer Dart Realty, the Cayman Islands government and the National Roads Authority have officially signed the third amendment to the NRA agreement, tweaking some aspects of the development partnership.

Premier Alden McLaughlin announced the landmark in his budget speech this week. Dart Chief Executive Officer Mark VanDevelde confirmed Tuesday that the three parties had put pen to paper on the previously agreed amendments.

The original agreement, signed in December 2011, involved the developer agreeing to extend the Esterley Tibbetts Highway in return for the closure of a portion of West Bay Road to facilitate the development of the new Kimpton hotel.

Some of the amendments negotiated by the current government over the past few years include Dart sacrificing a previously agreed room tax rebate for its hotels in exchange for further duty concessions.

More recently, the developer and government announced that Dart had agreed a deal to widen the Esterley Tibbetts Highway to four lanes along the full length of the route. That arrangement also involves 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.

The highway project involves the expansion of the road to four lanes between Camana Bay and the Butterfield Roundabout, next to A. L. Thompson’s store.

As per the agreed amendments, Dart is paying for the roadwork through Camana Bay, up to and including the roundabout that will connect with the future airport connector road near Lakeside Apartments.

Government is paying for the expansion south of the airport connector road roundabout to the Butterfield roundabout.

Government’s contribution of US$5.02 million will be paid to Dart, which will complete the work, in the form of a discount on its purchase of the Dragon Bay lands.

Mr. VanDevelde welcomed the signing of the agreement this week, saying the broader partnership has created employment opportunities, road infrastructure and sustainable development projects valued at more than US$800 million.

“This marks a major milestone in a six-year process between government and Dart Realty,” he said. “What began as conversations on how to stimulate the economy during the global economic crisis evolved into an innovative agreement to create road infrastructure and incentivize our long-term development activity in the Cayman Islands.”

Premier Alden McLaughlin, in his budget address, said his government had negotiated a better deal for Cayman.

“There were aspects of the UDP-negotiated agreement that in our view were not good for Cayman. It has been a long journey but I am happy to announce that the third amendment to the Dart/NRA Agreement has now been executed,” he said.

“It commits Dart to certain levels of development sooner rather than later, including the completion of needed enhanced road networks.”

He added, “This amended agreement is good for Cayman. The new terms will guarantee construction jobs once the Kimpton is complete, jobs working on the roadways that Dart will build and jobs that will come once Dart starts to build out Camana Bay, as well as new resorts.”

Dart’s Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak said, “In addition to fulfilling our commitments under the NRA agreement, we are moving ahead with diverse development projects which reflect and reinforce our confidence in the ongoing growth and prosperity of the Cayman Islands.”