Dart buys Barefoot Beach property


As published by the Cayman Compass

Barefoot Beach in East End

Barefoot Beach in East End. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

A $10 million piece of beachfront property in East End – once slated for a Mandarin Oriental Hotel – has been acquired by Dart Realty, the developer has confirmed.

“Barefoot Beach has been for sale for many years and the distressed asset was recently acquired by a subsidiary of Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd,” Mark VanDevelde, CEO of Dart Realty said Wednesday.

The 20-acre site with 2,000 feet of white sand beach is already zoned for tourism use and was billed as Cayman’s most significant resort development site when it was listed for sale after the Mandarin deal collapsed.

According to the listing record filed with the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association, the property sold for $10 million on Dec. 30 last year. The new owner of the property is listed in the Land Registry as SparrowHawk Ltd. Large developers, like Dart, often use subsidiary companies to purchase land.

Sparrowhawk is also listed as the owner of a piece of land next to Smith Barcadere, which was offered by Dart to government during negotiations over the For Cayman Investment Alliance deal, which was never finalized. However, part of that deal was sectioned out and became known as the National Roads Authority agreement, which paved the way for the construction of the Kimpton Hotel on Seven Mile Beach.

So far, the developer has not indicated any concrete plans for developments in the eastern districts, but the government has indicated it wants to see an eastward expansion of the island’s tourism product. Dart has already revealed plans for another hotel on Seven Mile Beach and has discussed plans for a business hotel within Camana Bay, so it could be well down the road before the Barefoot Beach site is developed.

“While we have no immediate plans for the site, with the continued growth of Health City and development in the Eastern Districts, it presents a great opportunity for a future coastal resort,” Mr. VanDevelde said.

In a recent interview with the Cayman Islands Journal, Mr. VanDevelde said the developer had enough land holdings to react to demand, depending on how Cayman developed.

“I think to some degree [development] will be reactionary in nature,” Mr. VanDevelde said. “As the economy continues to grow out east, if Shetty’s [Health City Cayman Islands] grows as anticipated, it’s going to throw a lot of opportunity in the eastern districts for future development, whether that takes a form of residential or commercial or lodging type of development. I think our looking at land banking some lands … is a measure of providing future opportunities if you’ve got a successful Shetty development, if you have a successful Ironwood development, because you will have more activity out there and more people living out there.”

The Barefoot Beach property was the site of a previous plan for a 114-room luxury resort and spa. Mandarin Oriental announced in 2005 that it would manage the exclusive resort, also featuring 37 condominiums, but the plans were abandoned in the wake of the global financial crisis.