Dart discusses proposed iconic tower at Chamber Forum

How fast the Cayman Islands should grow its population to 100,000 people was one of the key questions raised at the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Economic Forum held on 19 June at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

The forum included presentations on the “State of the Economy” by Minister of Finance and Economic Development Roy McTaggart and the “State of Tourism” by Director of Tourism Rosa Harris.

Workforce and Residency Cayman Director Sharon Roulstone spoke about the new work permit regime coming into effect this year. She was later joined on a panel by Education Council Chairman Dan Scott and University College of the Cayman Islands President Stacy McAfee, who both spoke about the role of education in preparing Caymanians for the workforce.

Coldwell Banker Managing Broker/Agent J.C. Calhoun talked about the pros and cons of the increasing Cayman’s population to 100,000. Also speaking on the subject were economist Paul Byles, Caribbean Utilities Company President and CEO Richard Hew and Dart Executive Vice President Real Estate Development and Operations Justin Howe.

Howe spoke about the possibility of Dart building an “iconic tower” at Camana Bay.

“An iconic tower has the potential to be more than a building,” he said. “It can become a symbol of Cayman’s standing on the world stage.”

The proposed tower, which could become the tallest building in the Caribbean, would feature a five-star hotel and branded residences. Hotels are the economic engines of the tourism industry, driving direct and indirect revenue especially at the luxury end of the market.

Premier Alden McLaughlin raised the possibility of increasing building heights in the George Town/Seven Mile Beach corridor areas at the Cayman Economic Outlook conference in February, Howe noted.

“Since then, we have been working diligently to properly consider some of the matters that could move us from an idea to a plan,” Howe said. “We have considered scale, location, mixed use components, market demand, infrastructure, setbacks and the legal requirements.”

Howe said that with or without an iconic tower, the Cayman Islands population would continue to grow. With a scarcity of land resources on Grand Cayman, building heights could raise slowly and incrementally, Howe said.

“Or, we could follow the example of our predecessors and do something bold and visionary. If increasing building heights is inevitable, designing the skyline is our chance to innovate.”