The Central Planning Authority announced approval of the construction of a new eco-resort on Barefoot Beach in East End on Thursday.
The NCB Group resort would spread 83 single-storey units over 10 acres of land off the Queen’s Highway.
“I think it’s about time we get something on this site,” said Central Planning Authority Chairman A.L. Thompson. “It’s been talked about for years.”
NCB Group project manager Mark Sorrill, described the proposed $20 million resort as low impact. He noted that the land had been zoned for a 550-room hotel, but the company was only building 83.
“What we’re striving for is a new type of resort that is called in the business ‘experiential,’” Sorrill told the board. The completed project would “allow a more authentic experience of a natural site”, he said.
Architectural mock-ups showed a scattering of solar-panel topped buildings nestled among foliage, only a few of which had beachfront access.
“We’re trying to make it as low impact on the site as possible,” Sorrill said.
The application NCB Group filed with the planning authority said the project would be environmentally sensitive, with “high-tech super-insulated modular wall panels of the cottages and common areas, to the geo-grid gravel hardstanding areas, and green-tech provision of utilities, such as solar power, rainwater harvesting and sewage recycling”.
The buildings themselves, the proposal says, will “blend into the landscape. Deep shaded deck/porches and other features draw on Cayman architectural forms, but in a simplistic, subtle, and modern, contemporary fashion.”
The resort will feature a sea pool, a spa, a gym and two restaurants. Paved walkways between the units will be wide enough to accommodate golf carts.
The development would take up 850 feet of frontage on the highway. The planning board considered concerns raised by the National Roads Authority on whether a deceleration lane was long enough and whether appropriate sidewalks were part of the plan.
Members of the board said they thought the proposed parking spaces and clearances might not be up to regulations, and they asked about public beach access. Regulations require six feet of access for every 200 feet of coastline.
Matthew Wight, NCB Group’s managing director, told the board he expected to be able to accommodate that space, particularly on the east side of the resort.
“We’ve tried to make that an interactive public space,” he said, where beachgoers might also want to pay to use the resort gym or dine in its restaurants. “The lobby is going to be public as well and there’s ample parking there.”
Several other developers have proposed building resorts on the site over the years. The most recent was a planned Mandarin Oriental hotel in the early 2000s. Dart bought the 20-acre parcel in 2015 for $10 million. The developers, the NCB Group, and an unnamed investor are leasing 10 acres of that parcel for a maximum of 10 years.