As published in the Caymanian Compass – WEDNESDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 2013
View looking south from the top of the Londoner building at the Morritt's resort in East End.
David Morritt wants everyone to know: “Morritt’s cannot build fast enough.”
Last January, the East End resort owner announced a $58 million development plan, starting with a five-story, seafront Londoner apartment building commemorating the 2012 Olympic Games.
In April 2012, Mr. Morritt and officials broke ground on the building. Now, Morritt Properties representatives say they expect to open the Londoner in February 2014.
Morritt’s resort general manager Jerris Miller said the Londoner is more than a third sold, far ahead of pre-construction sales on previous buildings in the development.
“The economy is turning around. Demand is growing,” Mr. Miller said.
The $8 million Londoner building will have about 35 units, located next to the existing reception building. The roof is scheduled to go on the building in a few weeks.
Additionally, the resort is submitting applications to planning officials in regard to three more projects.
On the inland side of Queen’s Highway, behind the existing Morritt’s tennis courts, the resort intends to build the Wimbledon Village, a five-story block of about 58 condos, with two tennis courts, a clubhouse, swimming pool and outdoor entertainment area. The condos will have one, two and three bedrooms.
While Morritt’s has built its legacy on time-share ownership, Wimbledon Village units will be offered for sale outright and will operate according to a strata arrangement more traditional in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Morritt said he wants the atmosphere of the Wimbledon Village area to be a recreation of “the old Rum Point,” even planning to name the bar after famed bartender “Old Judd,” who is credited with inventing the Mudslide at Rum Point in the 1950s.
Mr. Miller said the resort has an agreement with the Cayman Islands Tennis Club to use the new tennis courts, and they are talking to the swimming clubs to open the pool to East End and North Side youths.
The build-out period for the $10 million Wimbledon Village is about 18 months.
In tandem with the Wimbledon Village, Morritt’s is constructing a new mixeduse building that will replace the existing tennis court.
The $3 million building will have eight commercial units on the ground floor, topped by two floors with four residential units apiece.
Mr. Miller said the timing of construction on the mixeduse building will depend on how soon commercial tenants fill the available slots. Right now, the resort plans on having a rental car agency and a pharmacy, as well as a Starbucks coffeehouse.
On the seaside, the resort is converting the ownership arrangement of The Residences building from time-share agreements to 999-year leases. Mr. Miller said it will basically operate just like a traditional strata with owned units.
He said he expects The Residences to be sold out within a year. Depending on those sales, the resort intends to start construction on a new $7.5 million building on vacant land nearby. The new five-story building will have about 15 to 20 units and has a projected build time of about a year.
Further into the future, Morritt’s is exploring building a new boutique hotel, targeted at shorterterm guests instead of timeshare owners. “We’re actively seeking to purchase additional property next door to the resort. The idea is to develop a new hotel that will attract different clientele, and pull in that market as well,” Mr. Miller said.
He added that in addition to new construction, Morritt’s has earmarked $1.8 million for interior renovations to the existing Tortuga Club ($1.2 million) and Grand Resort ($600,000).
According to the January 2012 announcement, other plans include “The Grand Tower,” a five-story building with 25 units behind the Morritt’s Grand buildings; a four-story residence building with 32 units, located inland on the road; the demolition of the Main Reception Building, to be replaced by a sevenstory building with a restaurant, bar, conference facilities and luxury accommodations; and a four-story building with four threebedroom luxury apartments, to be constructed as an extension to the new main reception building.
Mr. Miller said the resort is self-financing the new projects through proceeds from existing buildings. For example, Londoner sales provide the funds to build the Wimbledon Village, and The Residences sales provide the funds to build the new five-story building nearby. New Article Content