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.
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.”