Foster’s expansion stalls over ‘old time’ house

| 04/11/2021 | 30 Comments
Cayman News Service
Miss Cassie House

(CNS): The Central Planning Authority has adjourned an application by Foster’s to expand its West Bay supermarket to give the local business time to revise the plans for a larger parking lot to incorporate a century-old traditional Cayman house on the site. This will mean revising the plans to put the additional parking space around it or to move the house to the front left corner of the site and redraw the parking and driveways to accommodate it there.

Woody Foster, the company’s managing director, had been hoping to move the Miss Cassie House away from the site, but when he appeared before the CPA last month he had agreed to consider keeping it there and work around it.

According to the minutes from the 13 October planning meeting, where the CI$2.2 million application to expand Foster’s Republix store was considered, the board asked the supermarket management to revise the site plan using one of those two options, but said the preferred option would be to keep the house in its current location.

However, when he appeared at the last CPA meeting, Foster indicated that he favoured moving the house to Frank Sound. He explained that a renovation enthusiast who had room for the old building had contacted him about taking it and working on it at his property. But because the traditional Caymanian house is part of a historic area, the board has requested that Foster’s keep it in the area.

When Foster’s submitted the application they were initially going to tear down the house, then later proposed moving it, but this raised a public backlash. At the planning meeting Woody Foster said the problem was a wider community issue related to the lack of protection and investment in the country’s built heritage.

This particular home, he said, was old but very little of its original features remained, and if he was to retain it on the site it would be a monument because it was not feasible to incorporate the house into the new supermarket plans.

Nevertheless, the situation highlighted the lack of laws and funding to maintain or restore the remaining old properties across Cayman. The National Trust, which looks after a dozen old properties with very limited funding, has created a new fund to raise money to buy properties on its heritage register that are at particular risk.

While the list of the oldest properties that could still be preserved has shrunk dramatically over the last two decades, the cost of acquiring and renovating and then maintaining even one old house can be extremely expensive.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (30)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I’ve met Woody and see him stocking shelves in his supermarkets, he’s a good man, humble and carries the weight of his family name proudly. But he’s wrong here. We should be saving culture. The amount of money on this island is incredible, it could wipe out all debts and poverty instantly. I only say this to please for people to see beyond their insatiable need to make a dollar and to preserve the past when they can.

    here’s an example -Ken Dart is supposedly worth $3BN, maybe more. It’s a number that you have heard but maybe do not understand. If you made $100,000 a year and did not spend $1 of it ever…it would take you 10,000 years to make $1 Billion.

    Yes. 10,000 (ten thousands) years to make 1 BILLION DOLLARS if you earned $100,000 every year and didn’t spend it!!

    Really. That is how much money Ken and so many others have. Bill gates? Zuckerberg? They have so much money they cannot ever spend it. They don’t care what anything costs or how much it takes to pay someone to get something done..

    10,000 years at $100,000 per year to get 1 (ONE) Billion.

    Ken has at least 3 of them, so that’s 30,000 years. Are you working for 30,000 years earning far more than twice the average salary here???!!!

    BTW, Ken has done great stuff for Cayman despite the naysayers. The point is, the money that is here could solve everything if people were bothered to.

    It could save this house.

    • Anonymous says:

      DART spends less on corporate social responsibility and public philanthropy than many people making $100,000/yr. That’s 10,000 years less community support, to borrow your quantum.

  2. Eastern district says:

    Fosters build it in the eastern district West bay or George Town don’t need it. OR


  3. Anonymous says:

    Why doesn’t the esteemed Woody Foster build a multi-level parking garage on site? Leave the house alone Mr. Woody, go up and up and up.
    You are spending a modest $2.2 million. Like I said in a previous post if you truly wanted to preserve the building you would – end of statement.
    Gut feeling is that greed is at the heart of the issue, not some historical house.
    You are not your Dad (rest in peace, sir) nor your Uncle (rest in peace, sir). Either one of them would have preserved the house and done some modest renovation by now.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Exactly how “old time” is this house? Looks like 50’s.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There has to an ambicle solution for this. Here are 3 options that come to mind. Buy land somewhere close and build the Priced right there. Move the house somewhere it can be admired and set up for tourist to view. Build the Foster’s up instead of out. An thats just after reading this without thinking too hard.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Flower and card shop/souvenir store/HR and admin?

    • Anonymous says:

      Artist collective, health food store, swanky stand, Foster family museum, yoga studio, West Bay COVID clinic, specialty foods, bakery….lots could go in there. Put parking all around it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    close up the store and just move elsewhere that appreciates you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Could be used as a raccoon sanctuary tourist attraction.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Leave the home alone. Leave the land alone. More parking? go UP Woody…you can afford it. Leave the damn home alone. it is CULTURE.

    What is wrong with this country? Everyone wants MORE and MORE. Woody already has ENOUGH. But he wants MORE. Like Dart. Like them all.

    Just. Leave. The. Damn. Home. Alone.

    Culture. Your supermarket is not a tourist trap. That house IS

    and it’s an education trap if people started listening to the old folsk. We need culture here.



  10. Anonymous says:

    I would pave around it, open one side with a large rolling shutter door and offer secure covered bicycling customer parking. Use other side as a bike/scooter repair and chandlery or artisan rental merchant space. That would be future-forward, while preserving the historic bones of the past, and also filling a very real consumer gap. It would also be cool. Could also be used as a live music stage with parking lot as venue.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. Creative conservation is what is needed. Everyone knows these old buildings need to be saved but are ‘useless’ in their current forms. What the society wants saved is the idea, memory and representation of the thing, not the thing itself. See Pedro, Mission House, etc., for places that have saved the representation of the past for the benefit of the future. This house could go the same way. Our history is small but it is all we have and needs to be preserved. By all but especially by groups such as Foster’s that want to make that connection a continuing part of their corporate identity.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “Expansion” of Foster’s Republix is a paradox. They can’t even present a proper supermarket experience there now!! Many shelves there are presently bare (supply-chain issues?). Even in times of abundance, selection and stock is always limited; “fresh” veggies are frozen because chiller temps are two low (cilantro and parsley sitting in ice); avocados rot before they can ripen, from being stored too cold; are deli food is slop; Manager is always outdoors chatting on his cell phone.

    Foster’s need to improve the services and deliverables to the public, NOT expand Republix!

  12. Anonymous says:

    How about moving the deli into the house? Then there could even be a place for sitting and the current deli area in the store can be used for other things.

  13. Deirdre says:

    Fosters should consider building a second story over their existing parking area to double their spaces. They should cover the second floor with a roof or shade frame full of solar panels. They could CUC-core tie the panels or use a battery bank and rely on solar for all lighting, offer car charging, and spare energy for emergency outages. Build up, not out. Spaces on the covered second story could be leased for flood free hurricane parking.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s not much more than a shack. Even shacks get old.

    • Anonymous says:

      11:23 With that logic, we should tare down everything that’s old. Castles, Pedro st James etc etc. This type of house is part of Cayman’s history and shouldn’t be destroyed or removed for the sake of a few extra parking slots…

  15. Anonymous says:

    So literally paving paradise and putting up a parking lot… SMH

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