Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush

Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush believes buildings of 50 stories and higher are the next step for Cayman’s tourism product.

The former premier courted controversy in his annual New Year’s message, by suggesting the island should consider sanctioning skyscrapers on Seven Mile Beach.

“I want to see buildings’ heights move to 50 storeys, even if only for one building, for tourism, residential and commercial businesses to make a mark in the region, so that the wealthiest among the wealthy will work, shop and live there, to set us apart in the region,” Mr. Bush wrote.

The maximum allowable building height in Cayman’s main tourist district was recently raised from seven to 10 stories.

The planning department is about to embark on a district-by-district public consultation exercise as it prepares to draw up a new Development Plan for the long-term future of the island. One of the topics up for discussion will be the building heights in Cayman’s main tourist zone.

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Since the construction of the WaterColours luxury condos and the Kimpton resort, there have been multiple other successful applications for 10-story buildings on Seven Mile Beach. While some have balked at the sight of such tall buildings, Mr. Bush believes Cayman should go bigger.

“I don’t believe we should rest on our laurels,” he told the Cayman Compass in an interview.

“We must offer something different. We are limited in space except for in the air. Why not go as high as we can go and we will be saving land.”

He highlighted Dubai, where the towering, sail-shaped Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel is among an elite group of iconic luxury hotels, as an example of the kind of development he believes Cayman could attract.

“We need something different to set us apart if we want to attract the wealthiest people to come and spend their money in Cayman,” he said.

Mr. Bush said his comments were intended to outline his own personal vision and did not reflect a policy of the current coalition government.

He said the coalition government had been successful in its first two years and was getting many things done, from the airport to the dock, that he had advocated for over the years.

“The coalition is working,” he said. “Everyone is sensible enough to put aside old prejudices and make it work.”

He acknowledged that some in Cayman would not appreciate his skyscraper suggestion. But he said he had raised ideas previously, ranging from health tourism to immigration policies, that had been sniffed at, at first, but had been successful.

“Some people seem to want Cayman to stand still or go back in time,” he said. “They have already made their money.

“We need to prepare for the future, make sure indigenous Caymanians are taken care of, and make opportunities for people to have employment and make money.”

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  1. Presently, certain infrastructure on SMB is lagging behind the needs of existing developments – at 7 – 9 stories. So, exactly how will outdated infrastructure meet the demands of 50-storey developments? Has Mr. Bush taken the time to properly evaluate the implementation and related costs of advancing infrastructure needs to keep up with his proposed skyscraper idea? As an example, I can’t imagine that CIFS is currently prepared to fight fires in a 50-storey skyscraper – that being only one of the valid concerns to be addressed before encouraging skyscraper developments.

    I’m confused though, Mr. Bush is supposed to represent the constituency that I live in and since his appointment as Speaker I’m unsure how that representation is being properly effected. For one, I don’t know that his constituents, in particular, were consulted on this idea. How does democratic representation work again?

  2. There is no infrastructure to support what is here now. The roads are overcrowded with no place to add blacktop. The beaches are packed and this year there is almost no beach on the south end of SMB. I am sure that the water and electric companies would be hard pressed to support that much building. This is a poorly thought out idea that should die a quick death.

  3. WOW. I think the wealthiest of the wealthy would rather you deal with your incredible garbage problem first, not to mention the infrastructure you are lacking. Traffic is a huge out of control issue as well. Perhaps all construction should be put on hold until these issues are dealt with by government….maybe then something would be done about it.