One GT hotel returns to CPA for progress update

The site of the proposed One GT hotel in Goring Avenue, George Town.

Developers behind the One GT hotel returned to the Central Planning Authority on 21 July to provide an update on their application.

The proposed US$80 million, 10-storey, 219-bedroom hotel being developed by HPW Investments Ltd. on Goring Avenue, George Town, received conditional approval from the former CPA board on 23 June, providing they made three changes.

Those changes comprised lowering the building by two feet to comply with a 130-foot structural height limit; the removal of the spa, gym, kitchen and restaurant from the building’s rooftop; and a revised parking management strategy.

“The previous board determined that the manner in which the rooftop was being used constituted an eleventh floor, so we now require that you demonstrate how you have complied with those conditions,” said acting chairman Handel Whittaker.

In response, Mike Stroh of Trio, the architectural firm that designed the building, said, “We realised that the usage of those areas made them the primary usage, so we decided to turn them into secondary usage.”

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Stroh said, in compliance with the CPA’s instructions, they scrapped the kitchen and restaurant, and moved the gym and spa to the third floor, where the former rooftop pool was also relocated. To comply with the height requirement, Stroh said each of the floors was slightly lowered. The new design still features a semi-enclosed rooftop bar, and a lounge area.

“What’s left is an open space that is supported by columns for structural support,” said Stroh.

Jeremy Hurst, president of real estate company IRG, told the planning board talks were ongoing to arrange parking.

“We are currently in talks to secure a permanent parking solution. However, due to the short timeline, we have not been able to finalise discussions,” said Hurst. “We anticipate that we could have something finalised in the coming weeks, at which time we would be happy to return.”

Unheard objectors
Anne Briggs attended the meeting as a proxy for Cathy Frazier, the original objector to the One GT hotel, who lives next door to the proposed development. Briggs was denied a chance to speak.

“Ms Frazier received a letter from the planning department, which told her she was allowed to attend this meeting and to voice her objection. However, she is unwell, and I am here as her representative,” Briggs said.

A letter dated 13 July, which was signed by CPA executive secretary Haroon Pandohie, and addressed to Frazier, advised her of her right to object to the development by doing so in writing within two weeks. Email correspondence between the planning department and Frazier shows that the letter was received a day later.

However, when Briggs tried to voice her objections on 21 July, she was told “a procedural error had occurred, and the invitation was sent in error”.

“This application is to see whether the conditions of the approval have been met,” said Deputy Director of Planning Ron Sanderson. “Because it has already been tentatively approved, the time for objections has closed.”

Briggs told the Cayman Compass, “I think this leads to a lack of transparency and only further disenfranchises Caymanians.”

“The people who brought forward this application which will change the landscape of Cayman forever, none of them were Caymanians, and yet we were silenced,” said Briggs. “I guess, to sum it up, we feel ‘wex’ [sic].”

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