Public outreach begins on GT upgrade

| 12/10/2015 | 51 Comments
Cayman News Service

Former planning director, Kenneth Ebanks, and Deputy Chief Officer Tristan Hydes

(CNS): Government is seeking contributions from the public as it begins an outreach campaign to promote plans to rejuvenate the country’s capital. Officials say George Town is poised to “benefit from an unprecedented amount of public- and private-sector development”, though so far it is not clear what new projects will be happening in the capital. A consulting team is, however, preparing the revitalisation plan and government said it wants to hear from the people who work and live in the area about what direction that the capital should take.

Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts recently touted the unexpected proposal of an ice-rink as the capital’s rejuvenation ‘anchor’ development but it is not clear if that is still a viable project. And with the exception of the controversial cruise port project, which has the PPM administration’s backing but is by no means a foregone conclusion, the government is unlikely to be involved in major capital development.

Nevertheless, CIG has committed to an investment of some $20 million over the next four years, which will include a public park planned on the old Glass House site and the redevelopment of roads in and around George Town. But its main role will be to change laws and regulations, to promote and facilitate mixed-used development or restrict and change traffic flows, as well as spruce the place up.

“This is an exciting time for our capital, with the plans calling for the beautification and modernisation of George Town,” Tibbetts said. “We are already a world-class centre for tourism and finance, and we hope that with input and partnerships from the public and private sectors, the result will be a revitalised capital that reflects our international standing.”

The project-development and management has been contracted to Design with Nature International, a private company headed by two of the Cayman Islands’ former planning directors, Kenneth Ebanks and Carson Ebanks. Government officials have not indicated how that agreement was tendered.

The planning ministry’s coordinator for the project, Deputy Chief Officer Tristan Hydes, said, “Local business leaders were very receptive of our launch during a Chamber of Commerce luncheon event in May. Since that time we have begun fact-finding meetings with stakeholders, and interest has continued to grow amongst the business community.”

Kenneth Ebanks said he was confident the plan would improve life for residents and businesses and they should be afforded every opportunity to be involved.

“We are therefore seeking national input on themes such as more pedestrian-friendly streets, convenient, inviting, environmentally responsible, business friendly, a range of downtown housing and mixed uses. This is also an opportunity for residents and investors to get in on the ground floor, and we want to hear of any business proposals that would enhance our historic centre,” he said.

Carson Ebanks, who formerly headed the ministry responsible for planning, said the goal was for a town centre which is appealing, accommodating and sustainable.

“It will blend the best concepts in urban architecture, and traditional neighbourhood design to develop a diverse, mixed-use capital,” he said.

Specific areas have been demarcated for upgrades and the government plans to introduce a proposed mix of retail and commercial enterprises that will supplement enhancements to the port, public utilities and the roads.

A three hour meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday 20 October, which will include presentations, displays and conceptual maps and drawings. Officials will be on-hand to answer questions and take comments and suggestions and refreshments will be provided.

The public is also invited to take the survey hosted on the planning ministry’s website which will also be available at the meeting.

See details on the time and venue of the meeting

For more information on the project, or to offer input, email

To take the survey, CLICK HERE or visit the website of the Ministry of Planning, Lands, Agriculture, Housing & Infrastructure.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (51)

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  1. All the same..... says:

    The dilemma is that mass cruise tourism requires tacky signs and banners all over promoting $1 t-shirts and awful restaurant and booze franchises. So if that is the model, GT will always be a sad looking dump just like every other Caribbean cruise port.

    • Anonymous says:

      Welcome to the vision of the post-dock future, Cayman. Selling out to encourage thousands more obese Carnival passengers spending very little and trying to out-cheap each other. That is the future.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please, with the greatest respect this is not a job for civil servants, the same ilk who “designed” the forecourt to the law courts and other shiny black decorative features.
      Put it out to a design competition amongst locally qualified design professionals.

      • Anonymous says:

        FYI The Law courts building,LA Building, and the ‘Glass House’, were designed by world renowned Architects Rutkowski, Bradford, and Partners, and not by civil servants.

        • Anonymous says:

          “World renowned” is a bit of a stretch doncha think…?…and did this world renowned firm take out all the trees, concrete over the forecourt and surround the building with black marble nonsense…?…

    • Anonymous says:

      Do the signs really have to be tacky,and the bars and restaurants awful? Or is that just your belief?

    • Sarah Palin says:

      Two Westbayers presiding over Gtown rebuilding?Well Jesus Mary nd Joseph!

  2. T.N.T. says:

    Trouble with George Town is that about 80% of it needs to be bulldozed, starting with the Thompson Building, working back along Dr Roy’s Drive and back out to that ridiculous candy store that blocks the view from Ft. George. Don’t forget the Court House on the way by. Lots of work for the heavy equipment operators if nothing else.

    • Cass says:

      YES, Thompson Building is an absolute disgrace! And to think of all the $$$ that family has and can do so much better!!!!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nothing more pathetic than leadership trolling the public for ideas because they have none of their own that work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its a pity they don’t seek our input more, so I for one, will not complain now that we have been given an opportunity to have a say

    • Anonymous says:

      I take it that you prefer to be dictated to rather than contributing; or is it true that you have no ideas of your own and would rather wait for someone else to come up with something that you then pounce on and criticize.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The phrase “polishing a turd” springs to mind.

  5. Live Free.... says:

    I see lot of good advice/Ideas from you Posters on CNS. To the Posters with all the good Ideas, it be nice to take your Ideas to the meeting on Tuesday the 20, I have great ideas for Georgetown revitalization, but I saved them for the meeting, rather than putting it all on CNS. But do I like a lot of Ideas on here, so I give them my thumbs up.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am off-island at present, so I completed the survey and put in my suggestions at the same time!

    • Sarah Palin says:

      How about some affordable budget retail storefront stores or malls that startup entrepreneurs can afford and succeed; not having to pay some landlord shark huge rental about goverment sponsor/build affordable storefront retail space for business people that can not affordecpensive bldgs like Dart and Kirk Freeport.somebody else need a chance to make money the elite wealthy millionaires have made enough money and you do not need any input from them to build George Town.

  6. Rp says:

    We don’t need to worry about GT. Dart is pulling all businesses into CB which led to empty buildings all over town. PWC will move soon so another property will go empty. Prices will drop significantly, Dart will scoop the properties cheap and revitalize downtown shortly thereafter.

    Also, what is the sense of beautification before such massive planned construction site? Imagine the dust, traffic? My neighbor is building a house and my car turns from black to white within hours of washing it. My property is full of debris from next door. That is just a small construction site. Imagine the dust/dirt and other debris for 3 years while gov dregs and lays concrete? Hold on beautification project until construction is finished boys.

    But then again, who and with what money are gonna build these docks.

    Change to mixed use now so we can have those empty buildings redesigned into hotels and condos. No need to do anything further.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Only in Cayman, would you have the government initiate a public outreach for revitalisation of George Town in the midst of public outrage over the Cruise Port that will effectively destroy George Town harbour.

    This place is bat-shit crazy.

  8. Anonymous says:

    One more idea of an naturally created attraction for Ken & Tristan. Paste posters of infamous politicians and civil servants to all the windows on the glass house. Then charge the hoards for launching projectiles of their choice at the windows.

    Each character will have an associated reward if you smash the window in one go, like free status, get out of jail free pass, paved driveway, gasboy card for a year, illegally caught conch, lobster or turtle dinner. Last prize is free automated carwash if you can operate it by yourself. Can’t think of what to call it though, any ideas?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Was the RFP issued to DWNI advertised publicly?

  10. Anonymous says:

    A 3 hour meeting scheduled for 20th October- where and when?.

  11. GT Voter says:

    A few questions:

    Who else is involved with GT revitalization that has relevant expertise like experienced Town Planners, Civil Engineers and Architects? Or is it only Kenneth Ebanks and Tristain Hydes working on this project for the Ministry of Works?

    2. How does this project impact the proposed cruise berthing facility and the works that are being contemplated?

    3. Why haven’t experienced private sector partners been contracted to aid the design and implementation?

    4. When will downtown become a mixed use zone?

  12. Bryan Redissy says:

    ice rink?….really…..
    that is a complete waste of time and space
    it will end up closed and rotting
    put in more pedestrian areas/trees/knock down old nasty structures/waive fees for new businesses that want to setup in town ie restaurants

    • C'Mon Now! says:

      No to worry the Ice Palace will never be built. , obviously there was no announcement in May!

      There has been nothing on this “project” for an extended period and I seriously doubt the cowboys behind it ever intended to build anything. In Texas they would say “All hat, no cattle”.

      What is troubling is that CIG fell for this sham development and included it in the plans presented to the public. A 6,000 seat arena would mean that greater than 10% of the three Islands will need to be at the show to fill the building. It is doubtful that any combination of residents, stay-over tourists and cruise ship passengers would actually support a venue of this size.

      I won’t even start on the logistical issues such as parking as the thing will never come to pass.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, if they built one I would go every week – seriously – its great fun!

      • Cass says:

        Yeah, instead of CIG putting a parking lot where the glass house building is they are going to build a “park” there, right between the Central Police Station and the Government Administration building……why? so the druggies and slum-dogs can all hang-out and harass the hard-working citizens of the Country? Paid parking lot for who-ever would be efficient and is necessary. Money from the parking goes to CIG revenue. Simple stuff really.

      • Joe Allom says:

        I honestly think that the Ice Rink is a good idea. Think about how many residents would love to go to somewhere cold and not have to pay a bunch of money to travel. Also, the tourists would book to go to this place if any shows go on. Also, alot of Canadians live in Cayman and hockey players at Kings Sports Center would pay to play on the rink. It would be a big attraction instead of spending alot of money on hotels we dont need.

        Think about Clifton Hunter High School; the government spent 120 million on it and look at how messed up it is now since, you know, it is a high school. The Ice Palace would cost around 60 million and about $400,000 to maintain it each year and they would be able to get atleast 1 million dollars from people going to it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    One large high end casino somewhere in the centre of George Town (no doors open 24 hours a day)would have it booming and bursting to the seams with people. The profits from the casino could be used to fund and build a world class cruise ship terminal.

    • Anonymous says:

      We all know who will be first in the door clutching his government credit card.

    • Rp says:

      Build it in the brad so we can stop subsidizing 2000 people.

      In Grand Cayman allow cruise ships to run their casinos and stay overnight. That would bring the big ships in without having to build any dock. Change GT to mixed use.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Realising that local “culture” is of no real interest to foreign tourists would be a good start to any plan.

    • Anonymous says:

      Certain elements of Cayman culture-cat boats, ship building etc etc would be interesting, but you are right on the rampant corruption and thieving, that would not be interesting at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        “These are the specialist boats we built to hunt turtle to the edge of extinction. You might not believe this, but many people here still eat turtle and some slaughter the mother turtles as they come on to the beach to lay eggs”. Yes, I can see that going down well.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is people like you who give all expats a bad name ;you live here and make your living here but despise anything local. I do not believe that you speak for all expats or for tourists.There are many expats who love this place and are proud to call it home.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Simple things could be done imo to improve GT and the 7MB strip.1. Work on developing a Harbour night like Bermuda has one night a week (or start out slow-one night a month) which would attract locals and tourists that has music, craft vendors, restaurants. 2. Develop a trolley car system that goes up and down from GT and makes stops along 7MB- tourists would not need to rent a car, less traffic on roads and if this system ran at night, less drunks on road 3. a water shuttle 4. more ? or parties/sunset cruises on boats- tourists would like this instead of stuck in a club 5. night time activities that do not involve alcohol- even a casino would be better. 6. concerts in the park- advertise on tripadviser etc.

    • SAM says:

      I like the idea of a Harbour nights. Only where people going to park? If they demolish glass house it would be more prudent to convert it into a parking lot, or even better as someone had suggested already, to use the building’s core to turn it into a multilevel parking garage, like in Camana Bay. GT badly needs parking. It is a short walk from the glass house to the harbour.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thanks mr. Dart

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is a great initiative but I’m curious if any changes which may result from this are intended to be implemented before or after the Port re-development? Hopefully some of them are intended in conjunction with, or after, that project, as such changes will be necessary as a result. But knowing how things have worked in Cayman, maybe this cart will be placed before the horse as well.

  18. Just Askin' says:

    So two of the very same people who are responsible for the demise of George Town are to be paid to revitalize it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, Ken Ebanks was the Executive Secretary of the Central Planning Authority when Jeff Webb was refused planning permission for the Captains Bakery but then, as if by magic, permission was granted. Nice one Ken

      • Anonymous says:

        Are these two not also responsible for the denial of previous attempts at mixed use and residential projects in Cayman?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Replace the MLA with the much needed psychiatric hospital. Won’t even need a change of use application! Restore the heritage by putting all Members of the LA in wooden stocks around the town for the tourists to throw rotten tomatoes at. Now that would be an attraction.

    • Anonymous says:

      Come off it – the MLA’s would be the the first patients!.

    • Anonymous says:

      at 7:21 am,Perhaps ,since it is such a fun idea, you can show the MLAs how to be a good target by volunteering to be the sole target for the first day ,on one condition; when any MLA thinks you are not doing a good enough job, he will take your place.

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