‘Old time’ house to be moved for parking

| 11/10/2021 | 64 Comments
Cayman News Service
Miss Cassie House

(CNS): An online petition has collected more than 630 signatures since its launch on Saturday in response to plans to move a 113-year-old traditional Cayman house in West Bay to make room for a car park. The Miss Cassie House (or FC and Aldine Franklin’s House), which is a well known district landmark and one of only a few historic properties left in the area, will be the subject of a planning application this week by Foster’s, which wants to expand the West Bay store.

The original application was to simply bulldoze the house, but after the National Trust stepped in a plan was proposed to move it instead to Frank Sound. But the Department of Environment has pointed to the importance of keeping the unique old wattle and daub house in the historic overlay zone where it was built over a century ago.

Under the planning law historic zones are designed to “promote and encourage the preservation of historic buildings and conserve their historic architectural heritage”, and development is to be “strictly controlled to conserve the Cayman Islands historical and architectural heritage”.

The DoE is urging the Central Planning Authority not to allow the house to be moved.

“It is often best to conserve heritage assets in place, because there is value in keeping the location of heritage assets authentic,” the department said in its submissions. “The context surrounding a heritage asset is valuable, especially in this case where it is adjacent to ‘the Old Homestead’ and the Bridge… Heritage is finite, and to demolish the house to build eight parking spaces does not seem a wise use of this heritage asset.”

The DoE recommended that Foster’s redesign the parking area to preserve the house in situ. The National Trust also urged Foster’s to re-think the project and find a possible use for the house on the parcel, and carry out “suitable structural renovation that will preserve it for the benefit of the community as an outstanding example of ‘old time’ West Bay residential architecture”.

Speaking to Sandy Hill of CMR, Woody Foster, the managing director of Foster’s Food Fair Supermarkets, said they had bought the land some 15 years ago with the view of expanding. Since then the house was renovated by tenants who were paying a peppercorn rent. But now, with the expansion project due to go ahead, Foster said he has found someone who wants to move, keep and protect the house, saving it from demolition.

However, he said this was an opportunity for the country to decide how we should preserve the country’s heritage before it’s too late, as could have been the case with this house, because there isn’t the money to preserve things that were old. He described people criticising the move as “armchair quarterbacks”, noting that this house was in the middle of his proposed parking lot. He said that if he left the house in place, he would not be able to do the expansion, which he said is needed to meet the growth of the Cayman Islands.

“Cayman is developing whether we like it our not,” he said. “Why don’t we be more proactive about choosing the sites that should be protected… then we shouldn’t be allowed to buy it.”

He urged government to create a proper development plan that contemplates preservation where the rules are clear and so people will not invest in land that is protected in some way.

Nevertheless, many people are upset about the proposed move and believe that a re-design of the car park could allow the supermarket chain to use the house within the new development and change to the parking layout.

The petition is directed to Woody Foster rather than the CPA and is available here.

See the application on the CPA agenda for Wednesday’s meeting in the CNS Library.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (64)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    That house is part of Cayman’s rapidly disappearing heritage whether we like to admit it or not. I’m sure if David Foster were alive, he would find a way of incorporating into Foster’s current car park plans, rather than demolishing or moving the house.

  2. Candid says:

    Good that the house will have a further lease of life though in the long term it will be demolished, never to re-emerge. But it also reminds me of how Caymanians are being displaced every day, never to regain their power in the long term – unless something is done urgently.

    • Anonymous says:

      Candid @ 6:16pm – Em….Woody Foster is Caymanian. Very often we’re doing it to ourselves!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dam greedy and their food in west bay supermarket is fit for hogs only

  4. A.J. says:

    Take a trip to Havana, then you’ll see some architecture worth saving.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Joni Mitchell must’ve written her classic about Cayman – “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…” This is absolutely disgusting!

    That’s two “great” moves this week which define you Mr. Woody Foster!! Unless you’re planning to expand Republix you don’t NEED any more parking! What you need is a GOOD Manager there!! I’m sick of over-salty, dried-out food on the deli and items forever missing from the shelves…while the Manager spends his time outside on his cell phone!!!

    Preserving the old house is absolutely correct but transporting it to Frank Sound may be a challenge. I had to transport a hi-top passenger van to GT on a flatbed and it had to be taken through the centre of Camana Bay because, on the flatbed, it was too tall to pass through Dart’s tunnels. Interesting to see how & when they transport this old house. Of course, that would give Woody Foster a real excuse to destroy it!!

  6. Old Joe Blow says:

    Tear this foolishness down and put up a parking Lot. They have destroyed everything else in this little place What is the problem with you Caymanians you no like ???

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tricky one this. My first query is how would it survive a Cat 5 anyway, then I assume foster owns it, so really you can do what you want with your own property in terms of redevelopment. right? Lastly, if this was knocked down and made into a ten story apartment block with sea views and cheap affordable housing at 250k a unit for caymanians, everyone would support it, so I’m not convinced the old house matters to the locals.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a hundred years old so I think it’s seen a few Cat 5’s and is still there and a ten story apartment block of $250k units for Caymanians? Did you really type that and keep a straight face?

      “The Miss Cassie House (or FC and Aldine Franklin’s House), which is a well known district landmark and one of only a few historic properties left in the area,”

      Enough is enough, we need to cease the destruction and removal of anything remotely true Caymanian and if Fosters really cared about the people or Cayman they would shelf this ridiculous idea. Is 8… EIGHT!!… parking spots worth this?

      They could easily put in those 8 spots and more without touching that house. Look at the property yourself, look at it on Google maps. The excuse, and that’s what it is an excuse, is simply to free up that land for something else. Shame on you Fosters.

      On Google maps, anyone can clearly see that the land by the main road and the road leading to Fosters could hold almost 20 parking spots WITHOUT TOUCHING THE HOUSE!!!

      Shame on you Fosters.. shame on you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t we place all the old houses in Bodden Town? In fact start from the old Guard house hill to Websters family old house. Maybe build a large olympic pool across from the beach and close the road from car traffic. Use it only for emergencies. Golf cars instead and offer bed and breakfast accommodation to tourists. Weaker buildings could be set in a old pattern to show how people lived and worked. Offer a new attraction going east out of town?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sorry but ain’t no way that house will meet building code for Fosters to incorporate it in any commercial way so that’s just a useless suggestion. Not proposing it should go though. Love all the little houses in this area and would hate to see it replaced by a parking lot.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its Fosters land so they should be able to do with it as they Please I say proceed with the project, Woody is right Cayman is expanding for its citizens

  10. Anonymous says:

    Buyer beware! If you purchase land that’s in a Historic Overlay Zone and there is a historic building on it that has been there for over 100 years you should NOT expect to bulldoze it or remove it.
    The land has been zoned this way since the 1997 Development Plan and Mr Foster says it was bought 15 years ago. So it is what it is and he needs to adapt his plans around it.
    Many have suggested the house could be an asset to the community where it is, functioning as a card and gift store (freeing up shelf space in the main Fosters shop) and serving coffee and internet access to the local community.
    Parking could be redesigned around it, or Planning petitioned to amend the amount if parking required if the store expands.
    A solution that benefits everyone!

    • Anonymous says:

      Fosters have made so much money off the public, they should think nothing of preserving this piece of history.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps parking “could” be designed around it, but how awful would that look as well?
      I do think moving it to a location that perhaps one day could be a visitor’s centre for when tourists come back would be the best solution.

  11. Anonymous says:

    ‘The original application was to simply bulldoze the house’

    ‘Cayman is developing whether we like it our not’

    But it’s dem forriners right?!

    • Jim Bodden... says:

      would have bulldozed it already.

      Woody needs to grow a pair if he wants to be a National Hero!

      • Anonymous says:

        Thats it Jim lol give us a break. See not everyone is a rich Caymanian or grant recieving set like you all thinking they have balls but rather instead only have cash.

        • Anonymous says:

          lol – obviously no clue who Jim Bodden was!

          • Anonymous says:

            12 @ 4:08pm – ….nor do they get the bulldozer connection! Shame!

            Wonder if that’s taught in our schools when teaching the excessively long list of “National Heroes”!

            For clarity – Jim Bodden, Cayman’s first “National Hero”(and political pirate), literally bulldozed the old Fort George historic building & site in central GT, leaving only the few fragments which are there today. Simply because of a temper tantrum when Central Planning Authority refused his application!!

            Wish we had a CPA like that one back then!!

            • Anonymous says:

              A subsequent CPA then allowed a large concrete diabetes emporium to built between what was left of it and the sea.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is hardly an interesting house and is of limited historical value.

    No issues moving it to Frank Sound, where people will drive by and continue to say “meh….”.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well I will now need to drive quite a bit further to visit a grocery store. Not going there ever again.
    UGH, now Kirk’s gets my business and their prices are noticeably higher (gots to pay for that reno) and they rarely put the food you normally purchase on sale. (mostly items you wouldn’t buy on the regular)

  14. Anonymous says:

    Does that extension on the back have the appropriate planning permission?

  15. Anonymous says:

    It is wattle and daub. Do you understand what that means? The house has probably had more than one roof. There are heritage houses on the Sister Islands that are nearly a century old, some with metal roofs. This house is NOT a “shack”.

    There is very little chance that a wattle and daub house can successfully be moved anywhere and still have the doors and windows opening. It should have been protected during the process of the land sale. You don’t care about that, though, do you? Sorry to bore you with compassion and history.

    I can hear you already, furiously searching to refute my assertation of “nearly a century old”, and then you will feel vindicated.

  16. Mike says:

    “Speaking to Sandy Hill of CMR, Woody Foster, the managing director of Foster’s Food Fair Supermarkets, said they had bought the land some 15 years ago with the view of expanding. Since then the house was renovated by tenants who were paying a peppercorn rent. But now, with the expansion project due to go ahead, Foster said he has found someone who wants to move, keep and protect the house, saving it from demolition.”

    From what research I’ve done, the Historic Overlay Zones have been in place at least since 1997, outlined in the Development Plan here: https://www.planning.ky/wp-content/uploads/1997-Development-Plan_Statement.pdf

    This would mean at the time of purchase, these laws and zones already would have already been in place, not that this really matters since even otherwise it would be setting a poor precedent in Cayman’s development – if you purchased a historic property long enough ago, nothing we value today applies.

    I’m certain with the will to get it done, Foster’s could find a creative use for the property that would involve preserving it in West Bay AND making a profit.

  17. Anonymous says:

    8 parking spaces??? Seriously?

    Foster’s need a good hard schooling – suggest customers exercise a 1 month boycott, with picket lines, of all Foster’s stores for each of these parking spaces.

    Woody is a nice guy but needs to wake up – if it takes a very sharp smack in the wallet to do so, so be it.

  18. Richard Wadd says:

    Oh quit with the BS already. There is a marked difference between ‘Historic Value’ and ‘Sentimental Value’. I challenge anyone to present a sound argument to support the “Historical importance” of this house.
    Is the architecture unique? Was it the home of a significant historical actor in the development of these islands and people?
    Now, is there sentimental value? Yes. I have known this house since childhood and will be only too happy to see it preserved instead of bulldozed however, there are ways to achieve this AND allow for beneficial development at the same time. The FOSTER Group have consistently proven that they balance their business interests with the needs of the community, after all these islands are their heritage. Let us offer them our support and work with them achieve the best outcome for ALL instead of just being empty barrels.

    • Anonymous says:

      24 years too late. The district committees that determined the historic overlay zones, the ones that were eventually approved by the CPA for the development plan in 1997 – they already determined that for better or worse. Look up the laws already on the books. The only BS happening here is the lack of enforcement for what already exists.

      • Anonymous says:

        Always the case in the Cayman Islands. We legislate new Laws or Acts and do not enforce them. Society is therefore losing respect for all Laws and decaying into same found around the region.

    • Rurr says:

      So nothing for the kids or future of the islands. Just high rise and green backs. You sir are part of the problem. Straight up.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Should move it to the dump where it belongs.

  20. 30 yr Expat. says:

    Move it, what’s problem ? That’s better than knocking it down.

  21. MP says:

    Given that, from what I understand, the main portion of the Zoning map hasn’t been updated since 1997, then presumably the historic zone would have been something that a buyer in 2006 would have been aware of? They would know that the house was cheaper not only due to its condition, but also due to planning restrictions?

    The real scandal here is that the Department of Planning only make zoning information available if you pay them for a physical map… what is this, the twentieth century still? Upload those pdfs!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Ah, progress.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The house was there when they bought it, so they should have designed around it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the lesson learned is tear it down right away before changes come up and you can’t do it later.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Woody. Your sad attempt at a positive sounding spin still amounts to: “Profit over integrity.” Has the Foster dynasty not made enough money from it’s homeland? Plow under a cultural historic site for a parking lot? Please……. You have little integrity to lecture how sites should be protected – because you could do the ethical thing and preserve the site YOURSELF.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    Till it’s gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

  26. Anonymous says:

    So … a house that National Trust said has very little historical value because it has very little wattle and dawb … they now want #Fosters to incorporate it in their design but didn’t want it when Fosters offered it to them !!! GTFO

    • Anonymous says:

      Your statement is misrepretational. The property is on the Historical Register compiled by the National Trust.

  27. Anonymous says:

    if a derelict timber framed house equates to heritage….cayman has a serious problem.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Yet, if it were safer to ride in adjacent West Bay districts for those “last-mile” local grocery runs, we wouldn’t need parking lots for cars/trucks, just compact and secure parking for many electric bicycles, cargo bakfiets, and scooters. We’d be a healthier and longer lived population too, while saving some money all around. It’s regrettable that many business leaders in Cayman can’t see the opportunities that would make life healthier and more enjoyable.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some of those so called business leaders have glimpsed that pot of gold by having close association with the Dart organisation. The stain on our landscape and social fabric is obvious, the destruction insidious. A reset is needed

  29. Anonymous says:

    Why didn’t someone stop the current tenants from putting AC into this invaluable piece of heritage?

  30. Anonymous says:

    tin roofed shacks are not architectural heritage….

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