Progress and prosperity are squaring off against preservation once again.
Plans were submitted late last week to build a 24-unit condo complex on land next to Smith’s Barcadere, known popularly as Smith’s Cove, but in light of the community’s reaction to the proposal, developers now say they are stepping back to re-evaluate their plan.
“A lot of people believe the entire Smith’s Cove is going to go away. That is absolutely not true,” said Real Estate agent Michael Joseph, a representative of developers Bronte.
He told Cayman 27 there are many misconceptions over a planned condo development next to Smith’s Cove.
“It’s going to be unchanged, that’s the idea, is that there’s going to be no difference whatsoever,” he explained.
He said the development team fully understands the public’s concerns over development at the much-loved Smith’s Cove. He pointed to increased setbacks and the project’s conservative footprint of 24 units, half of what is allowable for that parcel of land. Perhaps most importantly, he said the plan will preserve the public’s access to the beach and the jumping rock.
“We all know that it’s a sensitive issue,” said Mr. Joseph. “They’re very wary of it and want to do the right thing, so the balance, they’re doing half of what they could do and they’re relinquishing access to and use of [part of the private parcel of land that includes some of the beach and the jumping rock], so that’s a pretty fair assessment at this stage.”
“This to me represents one of the last few unspoiled places in Cayman,” said Adam Johnson, who is against the proposed project.
He told Cayman 27 the land should be preserved for all to enjoy.
Back in 2013 that almost happened. That parcel of land, then owned by Dart, was part of the proposed 3rd amendment to the NRA agreement. That part of the deal was taken off the table in 2013. Dart Realty representatives confirmed the land was sold in September of 2015.
“I just watched Cayman over the last five years that I lived here, change so rapidly, and the people that I know that have lived here for their entire lives say ‘oh if you’d have been here 20-30 years ago it was completely different,” said Mr. Johnson. “I feel the changes now are exponential, and we are growing so fast and so unchecked that we’re going to lose all the untouched beauty of this place if we are not careful.”
“These developers are cognizant of the fears and concerns and they are trying their very best to find that fine balance between 100% development and preservation,” said Mr. Joseph.
He told Cayman 27 he believes the presented plan strikes a compromise between progress and prosperity, and preservation. Others, like Mr. Johnson, are not convinced.
“It’s nice to think that the developer wants to do something to mitigate the impact, but for me, this is a situation where just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should do it,” said Mr. Johnson.
This afternoon, the developers issued a statement about its plans for the property, attributed to Mr. Joseph.
“Although the development team and local representatives took significant efforts in the design to anticipate and address the public’s likely concerns of which they too are a part of, they could not have predicted the level of response that has followed the recent press announcement. At this time they have decided to take a step back and to further consider the issues of concern that have been raised,” it read.
The developers confirmed that plans have not been withdrawn.
The public still has until Friday, 07 October to submit objections to the project.