Developer agrees to sell Smith Cove to CIG

| 07/10/2016 | 81 Comments

(CNS): The premier has confirmed that the owners of the land north of Smith Cove who were planning a luxury condo development have agreed to sell the land to government at cost. Bronte Development are willing to enter into a deal and it was just a matter of setting the price, which the Lands and Survey Department will confirm shortly, Alden McLaughlin told the members of the Legislative Assembly. He said the money was coming from the Environmental Protection Fund and that it would be a straight sale with no other concessions. Once purchased, the government will enhance the area and confirm it as a permanent public heritage site.

Although the news comes at the end of a week in which a significant public campaign had started to persuade government to stop the development and buy the land, the premier took credit, as he said his government had already started the discussions once they heard about the development before the story emerged in the local press.

CNS first posted the story on Monday, which was followed by a petition, the creation of a Facebook campaign and more media coverage, which together presented the overwhelming public support in the community for government to buy the land, and within five days the cove was saved.

As he announced the agreement Friday, McLaughlin said the government caucus was concerned last week when they learned of the planning application.

“It was our view that the presence of any development on this property would forever change the Smith Barcadere experience,” he said, adding that government was seeking a balance between economic development and maintaining important environmental, historic, and cultural sites.

“Smith Barcadere is one such site and has been for several generations,” McLaughlin told the LA. “Smith Barcadere is one place where people from all walks of life visit – Caymanians and visitors alike – enjoy the beach and the sea and the jumping rocks, just as generations of Caymanians before have done. And it is one of the most popular wedding sites in these islands.”

He said his government was determined to discuss the acquisition and was pleased to confirm that it had agreed in principle with the developers to buy it for a price that will not exceed the purchase and planning costs incurred by the developer.

“Lands and Survey will vet the proposed costs to ensure accuracy and value for money,” McLaughlin said, as he appealed for the rest of the LA to support the motion when it is brought.

“I hope we will be able to rely on the votes of all members of the House so that the country will see us all joining together in a unanimous ‘yes’ vote to secure this property for public use in perpetuity,” he said. “I was heartened to see news reports that the National Trust of the Cayman Islands supports government’s efforts to purchase the property next to Smith Barcadere. I was also happy to hear that the National Trust intends to nominate Smith Barcadere to its Heritage Register in recognition of that property’s significance to our history, culture and people.”

He added, “I expect that, once complete, we will have an improved Smith Barcadere public park and beach of which this country can be even more proud and that will form yet another part of the George Town revitalisation plan.”

Thanking Bronte Development for agreeing to forgo its plans and sell so that everyone in future could enjoy an enlarged and improved Smith Cove, he said that government was still working on the South Sound Seaside Park, which would be completed by the end of the year.

“Once done, the park will provide the public with ensured access and enjoyment to a pristine section of South Sound beach for decades to come. It will also include a boardwalk on the beach side that can be used by walkers and joggers in a safer manner than now exists along this popular section of beach and roadway,” he said, adding that the PPM administration was a government that gets things done.

“Our detractors may wish to paint a different picture but the facts are that this government has accomplished much. And whilst we have more work to get done, I am proud of what we have accomplished to date. And I am certainly proud that we can now add the acquisition and future enhancements of this property at Smith Barcadere as one of our achievements,” he said.

The announcement drew support from members but also more requests for cash from the EPF for other parks and sites from several members, including from the speaker who raised the question of Point of Sand on Little Cayman.

The premier said that was one area that government was examining, as he said everyone was a aware a “major developer” had purchased it. He said there were significant concerns about the risk of development there, too, and it was an area government was interested in buying.

CNS learnt recently that the pristine beach has been purchased by the Dart Group.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There are a lot more sensible things the government could spend its money on that this. Is there an election coming or something?

    • Anonymous says:

      Just when we thought the kool aid dinosaurs were extinct.

    • SSM345 says:

      5:09, I would hazard a guess that you are either one of the realtors that has now lost out on millions in commission from selling these condos or you are the only person living in the Cayman Islands that has never been to Smiths Cove?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is it true they bought it to put the new dump there?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would like to thank Michael Josephs and the developers for being willing to forego their plans and agreeing to sell the property to Government for the benefit of the Caymanian people. What would be even sweeter would be for other developers/real estate brokers and agents to all come together and donate the purchase price to Governments Environment Fund so that the net result is no cost to the Cayman public.

  4. MM says:

    The most sensible and economical thing to do would be to ask the developer if they are interested in selling a PORTION of the parcel in question with the subdivision/removal of the proposed piece done at the obvious expense of the Government.

    Such an arrangement would save this country millions and everyone would get what they want.

    The Developer could retain enough of the land to still build their luxury units (which will in turn increase the value of Smith Cove and the portion Government buys, which means that this appreciation in land value would give Government additional value with the purchase and enhance Gov land assets).

    Government could simply divide and purchase the land that runs several feet from the “jumping rock” (that appears to be the primary area of concern here) straight to the front border of Smith Cove and then the public could maintain access to that area and it could be joined to the actual Smith Cove parcel presently owned by Government.

    Obviously removing about a quarter or half acre of the current 2.5 acres in question would be MUCH, MUCH, MUCH cheaper than acquiring the entire parcel… (if the Developers would agree to it)

    Government would then settle the Caymanian public by giving them the land access they are accustomed to near and around “jumping rock”; the Developer (if they agree) would retain enough land to still build their units and make a little “cash-back” by selling off the portion in question to Govvy; and Govvy would benefit from the stamp duty generated on the sale of the luxury units, increased land value expected through the construction of a well-planned, luxury complex and the votes generated by the contentment of the Cayman public. (Yay!)

    Looks like the only win-win solution I can see… but forking out USD$6million for this is the worst case of money badly spent during money shortage that I can put my finger on beyond the $1 billion still and already missing from the Government trough…

    Peace and love.

  5. MM says:

    I have tried to refrain myself, but here goes, I desperately need to vent this one out.

    Our people have an obvious, desperate lack of knowledge of priorities.

    Yes, we need access to beaches, yes, swimming is very calming and therapeutic, yes, Smith Cove is gorgeous and we would love to maintain access to it for many, many more generations, yes we felt like we were losing part of our heritage, yes people like jumping off rocks, yes we are pissed that SMB is pretty much inaccessible, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes….

    However, here we go, pretty much forcing the Government to invest (I am estimating) a minimum of USD$6 million (the developer will have to recover all costs incurred to this point, including, stamp duty, actual purchase price and the many thousands of dollars in architectural and engineering fees that they invested on a property they are now not able to construct.)

    Caymanians have had panties in a twist over this situation for a week now and are praising Jesus that Gov has decided to fork over millions to shut-up our whining, blinded, no foresight breed of people when we have sick people who cannot afford to go to the hospital, and if they do, they cannot afford the prescriptions they need. We have Government departments and agencies with millions of dollars in unclaimed fees and, guess what, for those who do not know… Government MUST have money to run the country so do not think that in the long run ALL of us will feel the pinch that this is going to cost. As far as I can see, losing PART of Smith Cove is not going to hurt this country or its people as much as the heightened taxes and duties that I am sure will be right around the corner in order to recover the expenses of this purchase (yeah, you go dey believing this six million is magically coming from the “environmental fund”). The same way it got there, it will have to be put back!

    We have elderly shut-ins living damn-near the poverty line, children being sexually and physically abused, toddlers eating from the garbage, a prison in desperate need of proper rehabilitation programs, mental health patients roaming the streets with no proper institution to deal with them, school-children being raised in distressing situations that will in-turn bring them in to lives of crime and/or prostitution (we already have teenage girls engaging in prostitution at some level) – I could go on and on listing.

    Let us now couple that with the rising cost of living and OUTRAGEOUS property and rental prices, seriously, KYD$45,000 for a quarter acre house lot in EAST END? Are you people mad???

    Then we have young people getting jobs with salaries (if they are lucky) with a take-home pay of perhaps KYD$2,000 per month and forced to buy one of these waste of money, puny little parcels (from and investment stand-point).

    What Government needs to do with that USD$6 million dollars is buy up some of those acres that are selling at around KYD$15k per acre a pop (un-subdivided duh!) and provide people with decent half-acre lots for maximum KYD$45,000 and turn this ridiculous, blood-sucking, only-for-the-wealthy real estate monopoly around!

    Do you know the amount of land that USD$6million dollars can buy when spent sensibly by persons who know the market and how to invest?

    Do you know how many acres that could get and how many affordable, well sized (half acre minimum) lots that can be produced while STILL providing Government with a decent ROI?

    Oh for God’s sake, the Government has no vision and the sheeple are even worst!

    Digging a deeper ditch, crying over the landfill, crying over lack of paper, crying over dilapidated school playground equipment… crying over rising crime, child abuse, high grocery bills, high utility bills, high gas bills and then screaming at government to fork-out USD$6 million for a 2 acre piece of land that not one damn Caymanian can even live on while our people cannot afford decent homes or decent housing!

    For God in heaven’s sake!!!

    Middle-class and the poor-ass are being pushed in to small lots because they cannot afford more, land parcels so small they can’t even plant tomatoes and then must depend on supermarket acquired food (that they can’t afford) and invest in little bitty parcels of land that by the time you pay off a 15 year mortgage the ridiculous little plots have not even appreciated in value up to the level of the actual interest!

    Not to mention congested subdivisions with people building their homes a stones-throw from each other… these same development standards of cramming as many lots in to one space are what have now become ghettos and impoverished neighborhoods (just look at what is happening to Prospect!).

    50 or 60, quarter acre lots in one subdivision, yes, it might appear pretty and neatly kept as the developers seek to sell parcels (like Frank Hall and Randyke Gardens for example) but you can guarantee that within 20 or 30 years these areas will become run-down, crime-stricken zones.

    I am in awe, baffled, really I am, blind leading the blind; what a mess we in!

    • Anonymous says:

      I had mostly the same thoughts. I HOPE that the folks that demanded this purchase now from a group to beautify the entire parcel and maintain it at no cost to the tax payer. Maybe they can charge a small fee to use it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Government is doing the right thing. End of story. Period. Full stop.

    • SSM345 says:

      Some of those developments are already on their way to becoming the ghettos you speak of which I discovered when house hunting earlier this year.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. Well said.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why is this an appropriate use of limited government funds? Wote buying at its worst.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The UDP would have given it or purchase it like they gave 7 mile beach

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands Government really should prohibit the sale to non Caymanians of whatever tiny bit of ocean front property we have left , as well as very stringently regulating the re-sale of existing foreign owned ocean front property to non Caymanians and foreign owned corporations. Furthermore, it should be made illegal to fence or otherwise restrict public access to property that is not already developed or is not under active development. It is frightening how much property has been bought out and fenced or otherwise barricaded off and is just sitting there in a glorious display of selfishness and ignorance. This has a negative impact not only on Caymanians who have traditionally enjoyed our beaches and ocean and our islands natural beauty, but has precisely the same effect on tourists and other visitors as well. One really has to wonder if greed and ignorance will forever continue to be the master plague of this world

    • yo yard says:

      While we are at it we should also designate your front yard as a public space, your back yard as landfill and compel you to install shade trees so the public can enjoy it. You may no longer sell it or give it to your children. Instead the government will purchase it when you cannot sell it to anyone else for less than you paid for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s Caymanians selling it…don’t fancy your chances on that. The minute you start controlling this stuff its where the corruption (or more corruption) comes in which then starts to affect prices…we are not Bermuda and we are not Guernsey…wont work here (currently).

    • Jotnar says:

      Because the sale of oceanfront to a Caymanian will ensure it doesn’t get developed? Remind me who the realtor involved in this development is again?

      • Anonymous says:


        • Jotnar says:

          The poster said people should not sell seashore land to non Caymanians. In this case a non Caymanian sold it to a paper Caymanian, who then sold it to a multi generational Caymanian. So the post, apart from being xenophobic crap – there is no difference between a Caymanian developing storefront and a non Caymanian; it still ends covered in concrete – is 180% the wrong way around in this case. People so blinded by their prejudice against outsiders that they leave logic at the door.

          • Anonymous says:

            And vice versa.

          • Anonymous says:

            Your total xenophobic crap is totally and absolutely irrevelant since the fact is that the general public will no longer be deprived of this property in the interest making buckets of money by building condominiums on it to serve a ‘priviledged’ few.

  9. Henry Muttoo says:

    Wise heads have prevailed. Just as they did with the purchase of Miss Lassie’s house, years ago, Government has once again stepped forward and done the right thing. However, it should not take the sort of protest we saw to stir us to a action. We must instinctively know what is precious to us and move swiftly to protect it before people have to resort to the sort of protest we saw, which could have become ugly. Thanks, Mr. premier and Government.

  10. satirony says:

    Congratulations to the Government for being decisive in buying the property, and to the owners for being generous enough in spirit to sell! I’m just concerned that the current project to identify land for conservation purposes, which the DOE is encouraging all citizens of Cayman to get involved with, will now be strapped for cash, as Smith Cove must be a very expensive piece of land. I trust it is being bought in addition to, and not in place of, the other high-priority areas, for which six million KYD has already been voted by the House. Clarification on this point would be well received.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would hope that there are plans in place for government properties (beach land) that is bring enfringed on in the Bodden Town district. Too much procrastination from former as well as present governments has already caused the properties to shrink.

  11. Anonymous says:

    the things that can happen when an election draws near. Maybe should have an election every year then lots of good things will be done!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hey Bronte, did you get your planned-but-declined 10 story condos between Grandview and George Town Villas approved as part of this?

  13. Jotnar says:

    Why would any developer sell for the price they paid plus the planning costs? Something smells.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jotnar, Something smells? Could it be your top lip? lol. Seriously maybe, just maybe the developers are trying to be good corporate citizens.What a concept.Perhaps you should try it sometime.

  14. Michel Lemay says:

    Thank you to all concerned for making this possible. The people have spoken and you have listened. Now , let’s continue. Thanks Al and Winston for standing up.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Everyone, except the developers got what they want. lets be happy people…it seems too many of you are looking for an excuse to hang the government instead of focusing on what matters.. What more can they do except buy the land. its beautiful place and will now be owned by the Cayman people. Be proud of yourselves and stand tall.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The article has the following opening sentence: “The premier has confirmed that the owners of the land north of Smith Cove who were planning a luxury condo development have agreed to sell the land to government at cost”.

    If the Government is buying land NORTH of Smith Cove and not Smith Cove itself, how does Government’s plan save Smith Cove?

    CNS or someone else please answer – I’m not being sarcastic, i really don’t understand.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly my point.

    • Anonymous says:

      DingDong, Smith Cove is not in question. If you had been following the news, Smith Cove is already owned by the government.
      Pay attention. And I’m not being sarcastic either.

      • Anonymous says:

        The people who should have been paying attention were the hordes of protesters who got everyone in a frenzy that we would be losing Smith’s cove.

  17. Soldier Crab says:

    Well done government. This has a historic significance for generations to come to enjoy. Very proud to be caymanian today!

    • Anonymous says:

      Well done CIG in making beach access available. Now please bulldoze the shack that has been built near the fish market. That development closed down two small coves where Caymanians have been swimming for years. The appeals tribunal and the AG rejected the CPA decision to allow it to be built. As of today the developer was still working away. Can the CPA get off their ass and issue the order to stop it. The CPA is a total joke and lack balls to do anything contructive. The board needs resign, lock stock and barrel.

    • Sharkey says:

      I think that the people needs to remember what this Government would pay for this piece of property today , and what the property a joining to the North would cost tomorrow , and you would see that Government didn’t have the people’s intrest in mind when this deal is complete .

    • A don't want to be a politician says:

      This is exactly what I have been saying; no vision no plan only reactionary steps which only lead to more chaos down the road. If we could only have people representing these Islands who are prepared, who know and who truly care then these incidents would be few if any for; a proper developmental,plan would be created to secure and set out beaches that are left for public use as well as those areas where development may be allowed.

      When oh when will the needed leaders arise. Soon come may be too late

    • Anonymous says:


  18. Anonymous says:

    Four months ago the government set aside $6,000,000.00 for purchase of land to set aside for protection and conservation of the country’s endangered habitats and species. (

    Something seems fishy.

    Government has never moved this quickly on an issue before, must be election time.

    #conspiracy #illuminati

    • Jonn Bodden says:

      This was was well planned out, to get some political points,it was a good move, vote for the Money well in advance , and and also get sum under the table. . PPM, the Government that gets things done! however cayman is Small and the truth will come out soon.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well @4:47pm….. you have captured my observations exactly, maybe the developers realised that they would be better off selling back than dealing with the growing crime, crowds, hope not but a good spin knowing your friends will take of you, can come in handy

    • Anonymous says:

      Its that time again

  19. Anonymous says:

    First of all – please specify your plans to “enhance the area”. Naturally, it is fine as is. Secondly, why was no mention made regarding the petition? If you truly support the community, you would acknowledge them. As expected, all of the praise goes to yourself and your administration. Thanks for finally doing something sensible, though.

    • Anonymous says:

      I applaud Taura for being so vocal on this issue. If there wasn’t such a public out-cry, nothing would’ve happened.
      Why is the name of the owner such a secret? Just hope that the property is not being purchased for an over-priced sum??

      • Anonymous says:

        @2.57pm I too would like to thank Taura for her support , but disagree with your assumption that nothing would have been done without it. Rather I believe it gave encouragement to Government to continue what they were already doing. i also want to thank the developers for being open to negotiation.

  20. Anonymous says:

    RCIPS, please recoup the purchase price by ticketing every vehicle that parks on the DOUBLE lines by Smith Cove on a daily basis. Users are too lazy to use the provided car park.

    • Rightyaso says:

      Agreed! I have never understood why the RCIPS aren’t there every day ticketing cars – it’s got to be the easiest money ever made. And why do people think it’s ok to park there anyway??

    • S.C. says:

      The provided car park is too small, buddy! Government need to purchase more property next to smith cove and enlarge the beach and parking area.

  21. SSM345 says:

    ““Our detractors may wish to paint a different picture but the facts are that this government has accomplished much. And whilst we have more work to get done, I am proud of what we have accomplished to date. And I am certainly proud that we can now add the acquisition and future enhancements of this property at Smith Barcadere as one of our achievements,” he said.”

    Alden you and your cohorts were quite happy for this too go ahead had there not been such a sh*t storm from the public once we found out. I might also suggest that had we not been less than 12 months from the next election, you would have sat back and let it happen irrespective of our views just like you do all the time. For you to now pat yourself on the back stating that you saved this place from being destroyed is absolute BS.

    And I am not quite sure what you are claiming to have accomplished in the last 4yrs either, as far as the majority of the public are concerned, you haven’t done anything apart from bring projects to the table that we don’t need, nor can afford.

  22. Anonymous says:

    PPM will waste EPF to buy votes

  23. MM says:

    If only the community could rally together to save the youth of this island as quickly… looks like the jumping rock is more important than the little boys “jumping” people in the streets with loaded guns to steal hand bags. This does not mean that I am not very happy that Smith Cove has been saved, this matter proves that when everyone bands together for a common cause, that cause can be one (though I must admit I am very surprised). I would guess the present assessment for the land will mean Gov will fork out around USD$6 million to save it… but the other day parents were crying because of lack of paper in the schools. Well, at least all of our poorly educated, unemployed young people will have a comfortable beach to sleep on in the coming years.

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