New Development on 7 Mile Beach Sees Local Pushback
And the beat goes on.
Property development, especially in the luxury/high-end vacation home sector is booming with new properties beginning construction seemingly weekly on Grand Cayman. This is not, however, completely without controversy…
Recently a group of developers known as Libanon Corp. has been trying to get planning approval for a large project in the highly desirable 7 Mile Beach corridor.
The cost of the project has been stated as roughly twenty million dollars and was originally planned to be a four-star luxury hotel. The first draft of plans submitted to the Cayman Islands Central Planning Authority called for the building to rise ten stories and be mainly made up of 129 hotel rooms.
This plan faced vehement blowback from hundreds of nearby homeowners who opposed the size and scope of the development and its impacts on the surrounding community.
In response to the local outcry, Libanon Corp recently submitted revised plans for a smaller, seven level structure with the same amount of rooms.
Rebranded a “business hotel”, the development would be over thirty feet shorter than the maximum zoning height allowed and cover a little over half the allowed forty percent of the current square footage of the raw land.
The hotel would be approximately one hundred and forty thousand square feet when completed. The plans also outlined features and amenities such as breezeways, fitness facilities, two swimming pools and solar panels.
They also earmarked space for wildlife/turtle friendly lighting systems and a restaurant space. The submission for the new property was seemingly done to comply with all of the various governmental agencies and be well within their specifications and limitations.
Libanon’s reps also said that the island currently is in need of more business hotel space and that this would aim to fill some of that need. This statement has been backed by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
All of these changes were seemingly done to help alleviate the intense public backlash that resulted during the initial Planning Department application submission. That, however, was not the case. The project was still met with huge pushback. So much pushback, in fact, that a larger venue had to be found to pack all the people in that wanted to attend the meeting!
More than seventy individuals were present to hear the proceedings. The Commonwealth Development, a beachfront development close to the would-be new hotel, even tapped an attorney to represent their position.
This Mr. Dixey argued that the application is, for all intents and purposes, the same application originally submitted simply modified aesthetically.
He argued that, although the building is shorter than the original, the structure is volumetrically the same size. He then argued that since the original application was denied, partly, because of its volume, that it should be denied yet again.
He furthered that the opposition was not against a new hotel, just one so large that it could potentially disturb the area’s natural tranquil nature.
What do you think?
New developments are springing up every year on Grand Cayman. As desirable lands are snatched up and developments begin to further and further encroach upon one another will we see more and more opposition?
Is this the new norm for Cayman moving forward?
John has been working as an agent with ERA Cayman Islands for 8+ years specialising in high-end real estate, hospitality and property management. Formerly of Vail, Colorado; John has set down his roots in Grand Cayman. John holds a degree in business law from the University of Saint Thomas.