Westin plans new 10-storey tower

| 25/08/2020 | 84 Comments
The Westin Hotel, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The group that owns the Westin hotel is the latest to submit plans to redevelop a Seven Mile Beach site that will include a ten-storey tower, the maximum height allowed there now. The National Conservation Council has agreed that the project will not require an environmental impact assessment but said there are a number of issues that will need to be addressed before the project should get the green light.

In its screening opinion on behalf of the NCC, the Department of Environment said there were sustainability problems that this latest tower and redevelopment would cause that need further study, including the risk to turtle nests and the overshadowing one of the beach’s oldest condominium sites as well as Government House.

The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa underwent a $50 million revamp in 2017, but Invincible Investment Corporation has now applied to undertake a much more ambitious project. This redevelopment will change the entire face of the hotel and include bulldozing the buildings at the southern end of the site where the new tower and other facilities will be constructed.

The project includes a number of changes in addition to the ten-storey tower, which will overshadow the Villa of the Galleon condos, one of the oldest tourism sites in the area. The upshot will be an expanded convention centre, another swimming pool, more hospitality facilities and an additional 239 rooms, significantly increasing the current room stock at the Westin to 559.

The DoE said that an EIA was not necessary but noted that there would still be moderate adverse impacts on ecology because of an increase in artificial lighting and the loss of turtle nesting habitat due to more hard structure encroachment on a nesting beach.

Although the DoE suggested mitigation measures, they said that when the Central Planning Authority reviews this application, the members should give careful consideration the minor impact from noise and vibration during construction, combined with the cumulative over-development of Seven Mile Beach.

“As building heights increase, the character of Seven Mile Beach will change,” the DoE warned. “More people will be introduced onto the beach and the demolition of low-rise structures to be replaced with high-rise buildings like the proposed hotel tower will cause visual amenity effects as the view of Seven Mile Beach from the beach, from the water and West
Bay Road changes from low-rise to high-rise.”

The DoE noted a number of other important considerations. Weighed against the socioeconomic benefits with the additional rooms and a much bigger conference centre, the plan presents a number of negative implications for transport and traffic. And there were no indications in the application that the project would include the use of renewable energy and other climate-resilient features to minimise its effects.

“There may also be adverse effects to visual impact, daylight, sunlight and overshadowing that should be considered further due to the prominence of the proposed southern hotel tower on the beach,” the DoE said in its screening review. “We have recommended additional studies to assess these effects.”

The DoE said the adverse impacts could be minimized if the hard structures were set back a minimum of 130 feet from the mean high-water mark and if the proposed fire-lane construction on the active beach was removed.

The developers must use turtle friendly lighting. In addition, they should check with the DoE before any work begins to ensure that no active nests are in danger from construction and work should not start during the nesting season. The department also stressed the importance of keeping and replacing any sand moved during construction on the beach and recommended the use of renewable energy.

The NCC confirmed the screening opinion last week, which will be passed on to the Central Planing Authority. A date for the application to be heard by the authority has not yet been fixed.

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Tourism

Comments (84)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Ignoring all the obvious back room dealing that goes on with certain developers and successive Governments, the real problem with SMB over development is that we’ve done nothing to make anywhere else on Grand Cayman attractive enough for developers.

    All over the world countries reclaim lands, create beaches, etc.

    we don’t. It’s nuts.

    We should fill in the bottom 1/5th of the entire North Sound, enabling airport extensions, marina’s, larger industrial areas, road networks, etc.

    We should cut into many areas of ironshore around the island, creating protected bays with pristine beaches and zoning to enable residential and tourism developments.

    We should put a moratorium on any further development on the West side of the West Bay Road. to the East of the road, we should allow 15 storeys and overpasses enabling condo owners and/or hotel guests in the higher floors (5 and up)_ ocean views and easy passage over the road to the beach property.

    It’s not rocket science. Just takes some balls and vision.

    • Hubert says:

      No 11:09, 10 storeys is enough. We do not need anything higher than that or we will become Miami very soon. What about moving the DUMP? It’s not rocket science to realise we need to move the DUMP. Just takes some balls and even a small amount of vision.

      • Anonymous says:

        We don’t want them elsewhere. We’re already losing Beach Bay and other areas. Leave us alone we live out here to get away from all that. You can barely see SMB any more unless you’re on it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    12.01 pm
    Did you take a peep at mine?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Like it or not, SMB has just started becoming what it will be, a line of high rises….I’ve visiting the CI for over 20 years and do a bit of diving, always wondered how long before the high rises filled in SMB. As soon as I saw the Kimpton, I knew it was a matter of time….

    • Anonymous says:

      Nature won’t allow that to happen. Earthquakes and hurricanes are nor something to disregard.
      Ever growing and often on fire Dump is not something to disregard… even if has been disregarded for so long.
      Crumbling rock won’t allow it either. I wonder if geophysicists periodically evaluate structural stability of Grand Cayman. When was the last time they looked at this rock as a whole?

  4. Anonymous says:

    This does raise questions about security at the governor’s house, which is not great at the best of times.

    Might it not be time to think of moving him off the beach?

    • Anonymous says:

      Government would certainly get good money for that site. Much needed.

      • Anonymous says:

        Raze the site and expand the public Governor’s Beach south.

      • Anonymous says:

        And so another public beach space would be lost. All beaches are now restricted to rich foreign condo owners.

      • Anonymous says:

        The site is owned by Her Majesty in London not the CIG.

      • Anonymous says:

        Government must NEVER sell Govt House.

        It must remain for this and future generations. Move the Englishman if you want but keep it as a public beach. A public park on SMB.

      • Anonymous says:

        The government doesn’t need more money if it stopped wasting it they would have more than enough already.

    • Anonymous says:

      We can build a 12 storey, Government building on the site, the Govn’r can have a penthouse and take the elevator down to work everyday.

      Might as well pack every bit of beach with concrete and glass towers.

  5. Michel Lemay says:

    WHY ????

    • Anonymous says:

      Why not?

      Everyone else is doing it. Must be a good thing…

      At least it won’t be 50 stories, yet!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Another nesting site lost. It is time we took the turtle off the national emblem. And what’s the point of a conservation law if it doesn’t apply here?

  7. West Bay Road Hotel Manager says:

    An iconic hotel which blends nature and luxury on the premier stretch of beach in Cayman. The person who built that hotel should be in Hero’s square right next to Cleveland Dilbert. It is a beautiful hotel built by a beautiful person.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Let the whining begin by the Citizens Against Virtually Everything. Oh wait. I’m late to the party; it’s already begun.

  9. Anonymous says:

    No no no no no no no no no!🚫🚫🚫🚫🚫🚫🚫🚫
    It is nice as it is. It blends with the environment. Tall buildings create shades, drafts, its roofs become perfect grounds for installing antennas, repeaters, boosters, radars and other communication technology crap.

    • Anonymous says:

      ….such as the communication technology crap you used to read this article and send in your nonsensical comment?

  10. Anonymous says:

    won’t happen anytime soon. cayman is tourist product is facing a 3-5 year harsh recession. westin willl be lucky if it survives 2021.
    listen to the economists not realtor/developer tricksters.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s a lot of staycations!

    • Anonymous says:

      It will take 3 years to complete the ready to move in addition. Good time to start now as it will be completed when, hopefully , life will be back to preCovid

    • Anonymous says:

      Who says it needs to be filled with tourists? One of the Kimpton Towers, Watercolors, etc. are not. Wealthy Residents spend more and are much more enduring then short term tourists.

  11. Anonymous says:

    …..and fill 10 storeys with who, when? Bet the Japanese corp which owns Westin & Sunshine Suites won’t proceed with these plans soon.

  12. TUNDI says:

    The Cayman Islands the Whore of the carribbean.
    Open to anyone with a few Dollars

    • Anonymous says:

      Tundi, you’re obviously a witty person, but even you know that your description could fit every other island in the Caribbean if you gave them half a chance for it to do so.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Still in the vicinity of the Dump. Still ignoring its health detrimental effects. Still ignoring the risks of Dump fires and explosions.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Better order some more bio buttons then

  15. Anonymous says:

    They need to get that filthy pool sorted out first.

  16. Enquiring Mind says:

    Isn’t “Invincible Investment Corporation” just another of Dart’s fronts?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Starting to look like everywhere else now. No point in tourist wasting time and money coming to see what they already have at home. Plain stupidity.

    • Anonymous says:

      yawn…the plan for expansion is a sign of success and demand for the product.
      go live in the brac if you want old school cayman….(bet you’ll be back.

      • Anonymous says:

        Is there a hypothetical limit of SMB development where you would see the golden goose being killed, i.e., development reaching a point where it is a turn-off to the average tourist?

        (Whether this is it or not is a different issue.)

        • Autonomous says:

          Have you ever seen the average American tourist? You think they come here for adventure or the island’s rustic charm? They come here because it’s close and it feels safe to them. They can readily transact in USD, they can get their cheeseburgers and french fries and sit in a lounge chair with their noses in their devices. They look up long enough to take a picture of the water to post on social media.

          • Anonymous says:

            10:15 am I hate your comment. So sad but oh so true.

          • Anonymous says:

            I am your American tourist. Been coming down 2-3 times a year for decades until recently, but never once have I eaten a cheeseburger on your island. I think your island lost it’s rustic charm with all the cement high rise buildings and too much traffic.

            • Anonymous says:

              True. My condo is for sale. I will be replaced by someone new who obviously has a different view for Cayman than I did 25 years ago when I first purchased. I hope you like my replacement better than me, but I doubt it.

              • Anonymous says:

                Just curious – if not Cayman, then where?

                • Anonymous says:

                  A good question. We are not as young as we were when we first purchased, but I guess we will have to start exploring again, just as we had when we came to Cayman. I am not bitter, just sad.

          • Anonymous says:

            Tourists are not all alike. “The beach” means different things to different people. There are many people who would come to this hotel. People who like rusticity will go somewhere else. No biggie really.

      • Anonymous says:

        The same thing has begun on the sister Islands already. Who’s buying up all the land? Planned development all over. It’s only a matter of time.

    • Anonymous says:

      recent tourism stats prove you 100% wrong.

  18. Benson Greenall says:

    We need to return to three stories maximum.

    • Anonymous says:

      More cement! Terrible! “The group that owns the Westin”- isn’t that DART? The high rise buildings have ruined the whole vibe of 7MB from the shore and from the sea.

      • Autonomous says:

        You’re another victim of island gossip. Put the coconut telegraph down and learn the facts! Dart has absolutely NOTHING to do with Westin. NOTHING!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        No Dart don’t own the Westin, try doing some research

      • Anonymous says:

        Tundi, you’re obviously a witty person, but even you know that your description could fit every other island in the Caribbean if you gave them half a chance for it to do so.

    • Anonymous says:

      We have limited land here so the obvious solution is to develop upwards. That way we don’t need to pour concrete over every single square inch of the islands. Also, the view of the sea from the road is gone after 1 floor so you might as well keep going up as high as the fire department can rescue people from.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you have a hook n ladder truck?

      • Anonymous says:

        Or perhaps we should remember we’re a tiny Caribbean island and stick with what we can cope with rather than spoil what little charm we have left with yet more high rise buildings.

  19. Anonymous says:

    We can fight this all we want, but unfortunately we’ll never be listened to 🙁

    We tried to stop watercolours, but it went ahead. The same will happen with this. And GT will soon look the same. All we can do now is remember how it was before :(((

  20. Anonymous says:

    Will the parking be on top of the tower? The Westin & Marriott both have inadequate parking already and this would make the situation worse. Our Planning laws need updating.

    • ThIs WrItInG Is VeRy IrRiTaTiNg says:

      If they are building a new conference facility in this new addition on the south end of the property they can knock down the existing building with the conference rooms on the north end and build a matching 10 story parking structure there to solve the parking problem.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Year by year we begin to look more like Miami beach. This is not the island I grew up on. Depressing AF. When will enough be enough!?

    • Anonymous says:

      3.57 When this place is a concrete jungle.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s also not the island my grandparents and parents grew up in. What’s your point really. We have been changing and growing since the first settlement.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Mac opened the door to this with Michael Ryan and a of Ritz condo’s.

    • Anonymous says:

      Remember, “we must embrace wealth, or we will reap poverty”. What are we reaping now having made Cayman unaffordable for most of its residents? Who has wealth to embrace?

    • Anonymous says:

      FFS. Next you will allege politicians handed out citizenship to their “customers.”

      Show some respect!

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s exactly how it went down according to some of the honest ones in West Bay that were asked by Mac to make lists of Status Grant recipients. They refused to provide lists to Mac knowing it was wrong. Respect is earned, not due just because you have the title “honourable”. Very few of our politicians know the actual meaning of the word.

      • Anonymous says:

        CNS can you post the link to the 2003 status grants gazette.

        CNS: It’s in the CNS Library.

        • Anonymous says:

          Wow. A number seem connected with a particular development. Didn’t think they had been in Cayman for long or had made any particular contribution. In fact, not sure they have made any particular contribution since. Could someone please explain?

          • Anonymous says:

            Oh stop being so disingenuous. If you think that the grants should be investigated, then say so. But by whom? And on what evidence?

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