An aviation firm that had announced plans to station Black Hawk helicopters on Cayman Brac has sold its land on the island to internet investor Frank Schilling.
Both Schilling and Myles Newlove, CEO of Daggaro – the firm which sparked controversy on the Brac with its plans to use military-style choppers for what it described as a regional search-and-rescue business – confirmed the sale following inquiries from the Cayman Compass Friday.
Schilling said he plans to station his own aviation-services business, named ‘Brac and Forth’, at the site.
It is one part of a much larger plan for the island which he hopes will eventually include a marina and village.
He said the business model for ‘Brac and Forth’ was more in line with the type of services Island Air offers in Grand Cayman.
He said there would be an airside operation and also a cold storage facility on the section of the property adjacent to the existing Charles Kirkconnell International Airport and an arcade of shops facing the road. There would also be retail and office space in the plans.
He aims to put in an application to amend and add to the existing planning permission.
It was not immediately clear how the sale of the property impacts Daggaro’s plans to operate in Cayman Brac.
Newlove told the Compass, “Daggaro is committed to our approved planning permit” and insisted the land-ownership transfer was irrelevant to the company’s plans. However, the future development of the site is no longer in Daggaro’s hands and Schilling said there is no agreement for the business to base its operations on the land he has purchased.
Asked how the business would function, Newlove said he could not comment further at this point.
In an interview with the Compass last year, he said Daggaro, described on its website as an “aviation and intelligence” company, would be involved in search and rescue, disaster response and medical evacuation services across the region.
It was granted planning permission for an office, aircraft parking apron and hangar last December. Neighbouring residents appealed that decision, citing, among other concerns, the potential noise pollution caused by Black Hawk helicopters coming back and forth from the site. The company began clearing the area earlier this year.
The appeal is scheduled for later this month.
Kate McClymont, the lawyer acting for the concerned residents, said they are in discussions with the new landowner regarding the appeal and future use of the land.
“They are hopeful the matter will be resolved amicably and in the best interests of the entire community,” she added.
Daggaro no longer owns the land and has no legal say in the matter.
Schilling said he would seek to modify the approved design.
“The original planning approval which is public and which I have seen a copy of calls for aircraft to taxi and park close to the West End West Road,” he said.
“I do not intend to follow this plan which I understand was controversial.”
He said the new project, adapted from a plan he already had in motion for a different site, close to the runway, would place the buildings and facilities strategically to shield the airside activity from the road and public park.
He said the business would enable better cargo, private aviation and other commercial services currently not available on the Brac.
Schilling added that the plans are the first step in a major commercial development on the island.
“Our plans around Brac and Forth are the beginning of a larger project to create a marina and village,” he said.