As Cayman’s first 10-story buildings opened on Seven Mile Beach on Tuesday, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush called for developers to be allowed to build higher.
Mr. Bush, speaking at the opening of the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, said his vision for the islands includes buildings of up to 30 stories.
Pitching the concept as a balance between development and the environment, he said taller buildings would eat up less land space.
“Cayman can’t be left behind our competitors. We need to think of places like Monaco and Singapore and what they have done,” he told the crowd at the opening ceremony.
“I am saying it is time for us to move to different heights, to 20, 30 stories. We will save land, we will save property and it will be better for these islands.
“We have to balance our environment with the development we need to feed our families, educate our families and assist our businesses in doing so.”
Mr. Bush, speaking in front of assembled dignitaries including the governor, the premier and members of the Cabinet as well as senior Dart group executives, said Dart’s planned project at the property next to the Kimpton or at its site near Royal Palms would be ideal locations for that type of development.
“If anybody has done a project right, it has been Dart. He ain’t going anywhere,” he added.
Realtor Kim Lund said Mr. Bush’s comments reflect the reality of the situation, particularly on Seven Mile Beach.
He said he has yet to personally encounter a developer seeking to go beyond 10 stories, but he added that cost of land along the beach has increased due to lack of supply, and developers are seeking to build upward to maximize the return on investment.
“Going forward, any new development or redevelopment along Seven Mile Beach will almost certainly be the equivalent of 10 stories in height,” he said.
Mr. Bush, in his speech, suggested higher buildings make sense for an island with limited land area.
He said it would allow “economy of footprint,” greater setbacks from the beach and encourage responsible coastal management, adding that it would also “protect the waterfront as a public amenity while respecting the economic value” of development.
As premier, in 2010 Mr. Bush approved changes to the Development and Planning Law and regulations which raised the building height restriction from seven to 10 stories.