Ironwood set for November groundbreaking

Clearing and infrastructure works scheduled

Golf legend and course designer Arnold Palmer, David Hayes, vice president Wharton-Smith Inc. and Dan Picek, project executive with the company. - Photo: James Whittaker
Golf legend and course designer Arnold Palmer, David Hayes, vice president Wharton-Smith Inc. and Dan Picek, project executive with the company. – Photo: James Whittaker

Local contractors will be given priority as developer Ironwood prepares to break ground on its multi-million dollar and resort in the eastern districts.

David Hayes, vice president of Wharton-Smith Inc. Construction Group, the project managers for the development, said clearing and surveying work would begin in November.

He hopes to meet with local firms shortly to discuss the range of jobs, which will include everything from excavating the property and blasting the lakes to building the network of internal roads and utilities infrastructure that will service the planned community.

The Florida firm has been hired to organize the major underlying infrastructure works for the golf course as well as future phases of the development, which Ironwood says will eventually include a 90-room hotel, town center and housing community.

The plans also include a wastewater treatment facility, which the developer hopes will help meet the extensive irrigation requirements needed for a PGA Championship level golf course in Cayman’s climate.

“We’re responsible for everything from the street lights tothe pipes underground,” said Mr. Hayes, of Wharton-Smith, which also oversaw construction on the Water Authority’s wastewater treatment facility.

An artist's rendering shows the layout of the planned golf course.
An artist’s rendering shows the layout of the planned golf course.

“We have experience working here in Cayman, and we want to provide job opportunities and training, where the expertise doesn’t already exist. We understand the role we have and the commitments Ironwood has made to the community. We have a good understanding of the capabilities here on island and many of the skills we need are available locally.”

David Moffitt, managing director of Ironwood, said an overseas firm had been hired to steer the project because it was able to meet the 100 percent performance bond required by the financiers. But he said Ironwood aimed to create as many local jobs as possible and had made an explicit commitment to do so in its agreement with government, signed last December.

Though a long-mooted deal for a partnership to build a 10-mile extension to the East-West Arterial Highway to help provide speedy access to the development has still not materialized, Mr. Moffitt said it was no longer considered a make or break issue for the project.

“When we signed the concession agreement it stated we had one year to come to terms on construction of the road. That gives us until Dec. 17. If not, government gives us the $21 million in concessions. That was the impetus for us to move forward.

“Without the road it will take us longer to get to critical mass; that is the reason for the concessions.”

He’s still hopeful a deal over the road can be negotiated before the December deadline and believes it would open up opportunities for businesses and increase land values in the area.

“We believe we are there, we believe government wants the road and that it will be good for the country as a whole. It is worth it for the government in my view, but it is their call.

“The agreement back in December gave us the ability to move forward and we have done that this year. A lot of progress was made and we are ready to start in November.”

One novel feature of the resort will be the use of treated wastewater for irrigation on the golf course.

Joseph Harris of Harris Civil Engineers, which is working on the project, said the design would also enable rainwater and surface runoff to filter into a system of connected lakes and waterways to help meet the golf course’s water demands.

The treated water will feed into an enclosed irrigation lake and will be used to water the course.

Mr. Harris said this would reduce the cost of operating the course.