Excellent piece by James Bovell, RE/MAX real estate broker/agent in Cayman for decades (“We will, we will, rock you!”) asking for Caymanians’ pros and cons on the need for accepting Dart Enterprises’ generous offer of a $1.5 billion gift to construct an iconic skyscraper tower on the order of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and 1 World Trade Center in NYC. (Bovell’s column, ‘Pros and cons of an iconic tower for Cayman’, was published 24 July in the Compass.)

Camana Bay in George Town is being discussed as the seafront location for the magnificent skyscraper, to be the tallest building in the Caribbean (and, undoubtedly, in Central America, too). Why do Caymanians need a skyscraper on the ‘Big Island’ to put Cayman on the map as a centre of world investment and offshore banking? Why will a skyscraper “enhance the quality of life in the Cayman Islands”, as Dart promises?

Cayman is already ranked as the world’s most expensive place to live. Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are already on the map as leading places for investment the world over, and as a Caribbean destination for offshore banking, exceptional water sports, diving, world-class fishing, ecotourism and second-home living for wealthy investors all over the world. Chris Kirkconnell, president of Cayman’s Chamber of Commerce, says, “Cayman doesn’t need to become a high-rise jungle.” Mr. Kirkconnell and all Caymanians are giving a hard look at Dart’s offer to the Caymanian people.

The Caymanian people have always been modest, hard-working, religious, conservative and warmly welcoming to foreigners from all over the world. These islands’ people have never bragged, and theft was always uncommon in their culture. Caymanians looked out for one another in the past centuries. The men were away at sea for decades, the women matriarchs brought up the children, farmed, fished, fed and educated them. Treasured foods from the sea and land (ground provisions) have abundantly fed the citizens of Cayman since time immemorial and today.

Times have changed in Cayman and everywhere in the world. Crime and drugs are afoot; huge mega-cruise ships allow thousands of tourists to roam the streets of Grand Cayman daily, and safety is ‘job one’ in all the islands. I am wondering why a skyscraper with an infinity swimming pool, like the cherry on top of the sundae, is needed in Grand Cayman? Why an extremely tall tower – housing expensive sea-view condos above a retail shopping mall and restaurants – is needed to enhance life in Caymans?

I am looking forward to hearing why it would be advisable to accept Dart’s money and grandiose development plans for a ‘Dart Tower’ in Grand Cayman. I am looking forward to reading in the Compass the pros and cons about the Dart Tower plan, and wondering, too, if a permanent dock for mega-cruise ships will be built in Hog Sty Bay.

Nan Socolow

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  1. In my opinion, it comes down to population density and the safe”carrying capacity” of the island. When space to grow laterally runs out and we turn to the sky, we step dangerously in the direction of social anxiety. Increased human density means more people per square yard on the roads, beaches and all other public spaces. Perceived or real insults lead to squabbles, which lead to blows, which lead to criminal assault. Theft and burglary rise. Where’s the fun in that for Caymanians and visitors alike? Infrastructure needs and thus expenses skyrocket. Government’s solution to increased expenses is to increase population resulting in a snowball effect without end. But it must end… it’s an island after all. Our historically rampant population increase is the root cause of our greatest social and environmental problems. Google rat population density studies to see how this ends. Over consumption of natural resources has stripped our reefs of fish needed for food and tourism. These problems will only continue to increase until we curb our growth rate or design a well considered cap on our population. We must at least stop creating incentives to increase and instead create incentives to maintain a population that the island can carry. As much as I love a great photo op, I opine “no thank you” to a tower and to a cruise port that seeks to add another one to two million more cruisers per year.