As published in the Cayman Compass: TUESDAY DECEMBER 16, 2014
Construction workers atop the Kimpton hotel construction site.
The new Kimpton hotel on Seven Mile Beach is beginning to take shape. Construction workers completed the fifth story of the 10-story building this weekend.
The milestone coincided with confirmation on Monday that the court challenge to the closure of part of West Bay Road, which facilitated the development, had come to an end.
The Court of Appeal last month upheld a judge’s decision that a legal challenge to the land-swap deal between Dart Realty and government was submitted too late to be considered on its merits.
Irvin Banks, a lawyer for the four West Bay women who had contested the deal, confirmed that his clients had not appealed to the Privy Council – the final court of appeal in London – by the time the 21-day deadline to do so passed on Friday.
Meantime, the construction of the hotel is proceeding at pace, with US$62 million spent so far. The structure, set back from the coastline, some distance behind where the old coastal road was located, is around half finished.
The developer aims to use the location, with the design featuring huge windows, to offer guests views of the ocean from both sides of the building.
Lee Hudson, project manager for the development, said direct access to Seven Mile Beach from the hotel grounds is crucial to the design.
“Not having that road between you and the beach experience is a huge deal,” he added. Dart says
Mr. Hudson said there is still a significant amount of work to be done. As construction workers complete the upper floors, others will begin outfitting the lower floors, transforming the concrete shell into restaurants, spas and an elevated, glass-walled lobby.
There are currently around 250 workers on site, a figure that will rise to more than 800 as construction intensifies in the new year.
Mr. Hudson said staff are working on a tight calendar. The hotel building is to be completed by July, but the outfitting and landscaping will continue long after that.
The aim is to have the hotel finished by Aug. 16, 2016, he said,
“At that time we will be done, up to and including the last paving stone on the path to the beach. At that point we will hand over the keys to Kimpton.”
Dart estimates it will take about three months for Kimpton to train staff and get the hotel ready to open early in 2017.
Dart says public access to the beach will be maintained through a cycling and walking path traversing the grounds of the hotel.
CEO Mark VanDevelde welcomed the news that there would be no further appeal to the road closure.
He added, “This brings finality to the West Bay Road closure, and the parties can now continue forward in accordance with their obligations in the NRA [National Roads Authority] agreement. It also allows government and Dart Realty to finalize the positive discussions to date on proposed amendments to the NRA agreement.”