The Dart group has formally applied to remove more than 1,000 feet of beach rock from the shallow coastal waters off Seven Mile Beach.

Following a trial excavation last year, the developer has now submitted a full application to remove submerged rock fronting a property where it hopes to build a new five-star hotel.

In a letter supporting the Coastal Works Application, Dart Real Estate president Jackie Doak outlines plans for a 225-room hotel featuring 80 residences and 10 villas, next to the Kimpton Seafire Resort.

She suggests the hotel project will inject at least $600 million into the Cayman Islands economy over a five-year design and construction period.

The letter indicates that removing the exposed beach rock is required to facilitate the development. Dart says the excavation will raise the “recreational quality of the shoreline” to the same standard as the rest of Seven Mile Beach. The developer proposes to replace the rock with sand to make a more pleasant experience for swimmers.

The application, which had been anticipated since last year’s trial excavation, caused concern among environment officials, who opposed both the trial and the wider project. The Department of Environment, in an analysis of the original application, cautioned that removing the rocks would likely cause erosion and beach loss in certain areas along Seven Mile Beach. It also warned that allowing a developer to remove a natural feature for aesthetic reasons would set a “dangerous precedent” for the Cayman Islands.

Ms. Doak, in her letter supporting the full coastal works application, suggests that Dart has “addressed the technical concerns” raised by the department.

“Our coastal engineering consultants have evaluated the proposal using advanced computer modelling and found that beachrock removal would have minimal impact on the beach …

“Our proposal for beachrock removal is designed to retain the prevailing coastal conditions for neighboring properties and have no impact on land not owned by Dart Real Estate.”

Credit: Dart Reality

Dart has submitted a report from coastal engineering consultants Calvin Giordano & Associates and Applied Technology & Management Inc. along with the application and indicated it would support the Department of Environment appointing a “mutually acceptable” firm to review the findings.

The consultant’s report indicates that there would be “increased shoreline recession” in front of the site outlined for Dart’s new hotel during storms but suggests this will be minor and limited to the Dart properties.

It goes on to suggest that the partial removal of the beach rock will actually make the shoreline in front of Tiki Beach and the Kimpton Seafire resort, which Dart also owns, more stable.

The developer also submitted an economic impact study, produced by Oxford Economics, which indicates the resort and residences will contribute a total economic impact of more than US$600 million during its five-year development and construction.

An aerial view of the exposed and submerged beachrock surrounding the December 2016 trial site.

“The total development cost, including land acquisition, predevelopment costs, and construction costs will exceed US$465 million. Conservatively estimated, the five-star project would sustain 800 jobs at its construction peak and support 1,254 direct and indirect positions in the tourism industry once operations stabilise.

“Over 20 years, contributions to the Cayman Islands GDP would exceed US$1.7 billion or 2% of GDP, 4% of jobs and 3% of direct revenues to the Cayman Islands Government,” according to a Dart Real Estate press release.

Dart says its trial excavation of a small piece of beach rock last year demonstrated the feasibility of the project, which it says could be completed in a week.

It hopes to excavate 1,225 feet of coastline, removing 8,400 cubic yards of rock and peat.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I wish he could come to bodden town and remove the one formed on the public Coe wood beach. That formed there after Ivan from sand rocks and other sea sludge, and it is so difficult getting into the water because sometimes it becomes very slippery and if anyone falls on it they can be injured. Do hope some politicians see it fit to remove ours.

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  2. Dart does many good things for the country but it remains a private investor. Selling out nature for jobs is a one-time action. In other words: it is not renewable. In nature “gone” means “gone”.
    Claiming “…have no impact on land not owned by Dart Real Estate” is a strategically well phrased claim. The biggest impact will be at the shoreline and in the shallow waters; land which even Dart doesn’t own as this is “Land from the Crown”.
    The reality is not like Dart bought the land to invest and – suddenly – the shoreline was covered with hardpan. That beach rock has been there for centuries…. for a reason.
    On the long term this only truly benefits a private investor. The nationwide benefits are largely non-recurrent and short term.
    If this were to be approved is would be an unfortunate precedent.
    I am a fierce believer in free economy but not at any cost to nature or people.

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  3. I thought that the trial to remove some of beach rock , was to see what effects there would be from removing a small section of it .

    Did we have any southeast / southwest wind , or northwester , or hurricane since December 2016 to really prove anything ? Those are the winds that would show why nature put the beach rock there in that area.

    Then he says that sand would be put over the removed rock surface to make it be like the rest of the 7 mile beach . Good luck with that , the above winds would show you that’s one thing you can’t do , make natural nature .

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  4. Independent environmental impact assessment is needed to demonstrate that this proposed rock removal will have NO (ZERO) negative impact on the natural features of all Seven Mile Beach and the shallow/deep underwater reefs for our future generations. Back in the 1980’s this whole area had a beautiful sandy beach into the ocean. Nov. 2, 1998 Hurricane Mitch removed a large portion of sand in this area and Oct. 29th, 2001 Hurricane Michelle removed the sand to the condition we have today.
    June 2010, an underwater survey (60′ deep) was conducted at the location where the USS Kittiwake was to be located. Which is directly out front of this rock removal area. During the survey there was only 1 foot of sand in this underwater location. Sept. 2010 Tropical Storm Nicole moved 6 feet of sand into this same area where the Kittiwake was to be located.
    Tropical Storms, Northwesters and Hurricanes shifts sand from one location to other locations.
    Mother nature is a powerful force.

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  5. Yes Jay , mother nature is a powerful force . I don’t understand why all these developers and Government don’t know that it’s a force that can’t be played with .

    I guess that all we can do is wait , till they see it for themselves. I am hoping for the best next Hurricane .

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