As published in the Caymanian Compass
WEDNESDAY 15 JANUARY 2014
The company behind a proposed $360 million golf course and homes development wants to partner with government to build a 10-mile extension to the East-West Arterial road as part of the project.
James McVey, the project manager for Ironwood’s ambitious East End development, told the Caymanian Compass he has a memorandum of understanding with the government to work toward a public-private partnership to build a new stretch of highway connecting Hirst Road in Savannah with Frank Sound Road.
The proposed road would provide quicker access from George Town and the Seven Mile Beach corridor to the new development, which is planned to include an 18-hole PGA championship golf course designed by Arnold Palmer.
Previous road developments in the area have proved controversial, with government using its powers under the Roads Law to acquire private land along the route of what is now the East-West Arterial.
Several landowners who could not agree on fees with government are still out of pocket, awaiting hearings to decide how much they are owed. Ironwood developers submitted a planning application last month for phase one of the proposed leisure development – a small retail park featuring a booking office and takeaway restaurant.
A Planned Area Development application would need to be submitted for the 60-acre site, as well as further planning applications before work could begin on the project, which they say will include a Camana Bay-style town center and a new sports complex.
Mr. McVey, who was part of the team during the initiation of the Health City Cayman Islands hospital project, said a partnership over the road would help government get a key route built under favorable economic terms and shorten travel time for tourists heading to the new golf course from hotels on West Bay Road. The road would also cut travel time between George Town and Health City.
“The road was something that was in their 10-year-plan for development. It is also important to our development, and we approached them with the idea to design and build it,” he said.
“We have got private funding that will allow us to build it,” Mr. McVey added.
Minister for Planning, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure Kurt Tibbetts was not available for comment Tuesday. At a public meeting in August, he referenced the Frank Sound development and indicated that officials were seeking a memorandum of understanding to secure financing for the road extension – a project that has been delayed, partially due to government’s financial difficulties.
Phase one of the East-West Arterial, from the Shamrock Road roundabout to Newlands, opened in 2007. The long-term goal, outlined in a 2005 Development Plan, is to extend the road all the way to Colliers in East End.
One potential point of conflict could be that the route outlined in the 2005 gazette for the extension to Frank Sound Road cuts across the southern portion of the Mastic Trail Reserve, owned by the National Trust, meaning the development could be impacted by the National Conservation Law.
Mr. McVey said he hoped work could begin on clearing the route in the coming months, suggesting that affected landowners would already have been notified through the 2005 gazette.
“We have agreed with government to work with local contractors on this project and construction can start within 60 days of finalizing [the public-private partnership]. With a build schedule of around 24 months, everyone is quite keen to get the shovels in the ground and get people working on this exciting project,” he said.
He believes a final agreement over the road would be the catalyst that would pave the way for the rest of the project to move forward.
“Once the road agreement is signed, that will give us confidence that the development is going to be successful,” he added.
He said Ironwood would primarily target older people looking to retire in style or seasonal visitors seeking second homes in the sun.
He believes the golf course will position Cayman to host PGA tournaments, as well as provide an additional tourist attraction for the island.
Denise Gower, who is acting as a spokesperson for the developers, added that the development and the road would help bring jobs and tourism to the East End.
“The development of Ironwood and the continuation of the East-West Corridor is the catalyst for more development in the area as it provides the nucleus of infrastructure needed to develop beautiful East End and North Side in a responsible and sustainable way.”