Plans for a $25 million plaza on West Bay Road, featuring a mix of shops, restaurants and apartments have been approved by the Central Planning Authority.
The Grove will feature six buildings surrounding a landscaped park and courtyard, according to architect Robert Johnson.
The ground floor will be for retail outlets, cafes and restaurants with the top floor reserved for apartments.
Mr. Johnson said the project would give business owners the opportunity to own their own property.
“It is a high-end, class A development, which will at the end of the day generate $55 million for the local economy and simultaneously give good local businesses an opportunity to own rather than rent from a landlord,” he told the Central Planning Authority board at its February meeting.
The application was approved despite objections from neighboring residents in the beachfront condos The Great House, Plantana and Avalon, opposite the site for the new development.
Concerns raised range from traffic and noise pollution to a predicted increase in crime as a result of the development.
Mr. Johnson says the new development, which features space for 58 apartments and 35 businesses, is a good model for future development in Cayman.
He believes the mix of homes and retail in the same plaza will be the template for growth on the island because it maximizes space and reduces dependence on cars.
“This mixed-use arrangement reduces the dependence on the automobile, lessens urban sprawl and is the stuff that promotes community,” he said. “There’s a reason why this is the model for Camana Bay and you’ll see the concept spread on the land side of West Bay Road as it fills out in coming years, within this neighborhood commercial zone.”
He said it would be good for the residents at condo developments on the other side of the road too, bringing new amenities.
A sampling of the complaints from residents in those developments suggests they do not share this view.
Several wrote to the Central Planning Authority citing fears that the apartments envisaged were small and likely to attract temporary or “transient workers.”
One complainant wrote, “We originally bought with the aim of having an exclusive beach condo, with similar neighbors to ourselves.
“We would like any development to help with making the Cayman Islands a better place, rather than gravitating to the lowest common denominator and having small condos with temporary workers in them.”
Mr. Johnson told the planning authority last week that The Grove would be a “high-end” development nestled within a “lush, heavily landscaped park.”
He said, “These apartments sell for over $700 a square foot, which is more than the Great House, Plantana or the Avalon beach condos who are objecting across the road.
“The residential component of this project very much satisfies a gap in the real-estate market for high-end housing, which is proven by the project being over 50 percent sold.”
He said the retail and restaurant space was also selling well with “well-established local retailers and restaurant owners.” Addressing another concern raised by residents, he said the businesses would be “family friendly” and would not include any nightclubs or bars.
“We’ve studied the surrounding area and not only is The Grove consistent with the neighborhood but we will improve on it,” he said. “It is important to provide people with space, and so we’ve provided a very generous public green area for tourists, locals, and families …. This is a public amenity or a park for people to enjoy. The Grove has more dedicated green space per square foot of buildings than Camana Bay.”