Dart advised to ‘retreat’ as it cleans up Royal Palms

| 29/11/2022 | 120 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): There was great consternation within the community last week after people saw boulders dropped into the ocean at the Royal Palms site, as well as the appearance of screens and heavy equipment on the beach. But although Dart, which owns the site, had failed to make any public announcement of the intended clean-up operation to remove a damaged sea wall, giving rise to significant concern about the goings on, the work was, in fact, done after consultation with the Department of Environment.

According to experts working with the DoE, the situation presents an opportunity for a managed retreat, and Dart has been advised to tear down the old Royal Palms bar and let the beach recover.

The site, which has been left derelict for over two years, was impacted by rough seas when Tropical Storm Ian passed by in September this year. Although the storm passed over 100 miles from Grand Cayman, the sea wall that supported the once-famous bar area crumbled into the ocean. While most of Cayman was spared any damage, vulnerable coastal developments like the Royal Palms site were notable exceptions, according to the Department of Environment.

A DoE spokesperson said the fact that the damage was incurred under relatively mild storm conditions “highlights how inappropriately sited development can result in high public and private cost from chronic beach erosion, damage to structures, and risk to the public”.

The DoE explained that Dart executives had reached out to them looking for professional coastal engineering guidance regarding seawall repairs at the site. Advice from Olsen Associates, which works with the DoE, concluded that the situation provided an opportunity for a managed retreat.

“The Royal Palms site presents an excellent opportunity — probably the most ideal contemporary example along south SMB — to restore reliable sand beach at a developed property through a landward relocation of a seawall/hardscape. The site presents ample upland space to slightly retreat from the sea,” the experts stated in their report.

The DoE has also been advocating for a managed retreat for some time, given the significant beach erosion along the southern end of Grand Cayman’s famous beach, and they agreed that Dart should remove the Royal Palms beach bar to this end. “However, our current understanding is that Dart has not yet committed to doing so,” they noted.

In the meantime, given the safety hazard presented by the badly damaged seawall, the DoE had agreed that Dart could remove it to prevent further damage to the marine environment. After some discussion about how to do that, the DoE did not agree to boulders being used to reinforce the damaged wall but did agree that boulders could be used temporarily to support the heavy equipment as it accessed the debris.

“This would be less intrusive than other options, such as the placement of crusher run, shot rock, or driving directly on the beach or sea bed,” the DoE stated, noting that Dart had agreed that all boulders and debris would be removed by the end of the works, which is expected around the end of this week. “Although silt screens do assist in the containment of turbidity, they do not work perfectly and therefore only partially mitigate the effect of this type of construction. The DoE has been monitoring the works to ensure that the methodology is adhered to and our conditions are complied with.”

Although this work will address the immediate safety hazard, a long-term solution of managed retreat at this site is needed, the DoE stressed.

CNS has reached out to the Dart communications team about their plans for Royal Palms, once one of Cayman’s most popular spots, but no one has responded to our request. Though the site has been neglected since it closed due to the pandemic in 2020, Dart has hinted on previous occasions that it is earmarked for a new resort. It also appears that this resort could link to the tall tower that senior management has persistently agitated for, despite the current height restrictions. If allowed to build high, it has long been understood that the favoured location is on the overpass on the West Bay Road.

Given the current mood in relation to development and Cayman’s exploding population, the proposal for significantly increasing the height of buildings is not popular. Even though allowing developers to go up might encourage the necessary managed retreat and redevelopment in the Seven Mile Beach area, local activists are concerned about the wider implications on society of the continued runaway development of the islands, which most Caymanians are not benefiting from.

While developers and others, including McKeeva Bush MP (WBW), who is bringing a motion to parliament next month requesting that height restrictions be lifted to allow as much as 30 storeys, some members of the community have significant concerns about what over-development means for their future.

See the full DoE statement and download the Olsen Associates Royal Palms Report here


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Category: development, Local News, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (120)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What do you mean?
    Everything that D does is Done Well!
    “” Dart has hinted on previous occasions that it is earmarked for a new resort. It also appears that this resort could link to the tall tower that senior management has persistently

    “”Dart has hinted on previous occasions that it is earmarked for a new resort.
    It also appears that this resort could link to the tall tower that senior management has persistently agitated for, despite the current height restrictions.
    If allowed to build high, it has long been understood that the favoured location is on the overpass on the West Bay Road.“”

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  2. Anonymous says:

    This sea wall has nothing to do with the beach erosion. The problems started when the Royal Walter Terminal and Treasure Island Condos were allowed to build their breakwater and jetty. Those structures have affected the waves going north hence the loss of beach. If the proposal to build a GT Cruise Dock had gone forward – SMB would all be gone.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    There should be no trading or commercial activity for personal profit on the beach, like it was 20 years ago. Govt should set up other govt land for traders, crafts etc which need to be registered and licenced.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They did, then it was annexed by the hotels … or have we forgotten when locals were not allowed to access hotel beaches? Now that they’ve lost their beaches to nature, lets haul the bloated carcasses off to the tiny public beaches while we wait for gov’t to pay to rebuild hotel beaches … only in Cayman.

  4. Anonymous says:

    McKeeva would make more sense if he advocated for a law to not allow any more of these sea walls and for greater set backs from the water across the island.

    Whether you believe in climate change or not, Mother Nature has shown us that erosion is real.

    No sense having 30 story buildings and no beach for the tourists and Caymanians alike to use..

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Was hoping it said Dart advised to retreat from the Cayman Islands

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I can see the pool has gone a lovely shade of green, why didn’t they drain it??

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Can’t help but wonder if all the anti-Dart commenters here visit Caymana Bay for their enjoyment whatever that may be – shop, eat, movies, socializing etc. Hypocrites? Can’t have it both ways.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Went once. Too expensive. Can buy all that 1/3 of the price stateside. Not good for the locals. No thank you!

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    • Anonymous says:

      No Camana Bay and no Dart is a price worth paying.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why can’t people go to camana bay yet still question darts motives? Dart seems to have got significantly worse for the islands over the last 2 years. Make a lot of statements and don’t actually do anything. Lots of decent employees seem to have left. Even camana bay their flagship development has gone downhill as they have cut costs looking after it and it’s just one big building site.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Camana Bay has no parking. Might as well be George Town

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      • Anonymous says:

        Not my experience. Have never had a problem.

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      • Anonymous says:

        True.

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      • Anonymous says:

        People can find parking in the garage near Gelato & Co anytime they want. They’re just too lazy and/or unfit to walk. That’s why people park illegally all over the island.

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        • Anonymous says:

          That’s a croc of crap. I work at CB and with every new addition, less parking. he Solaris garage is now almost non-existent with parking. Can’t wait until the new residence and commercial buildings open.
          If you find commercial space elsewhere you’ll be good, the traffic jam will be concentrated at the luxurious hellhole we’re now all resigned to.

    • Anonymous says:

      we don’t – not even to that Fosters store.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You seem to not understand just how easy it is for one to avoid CB. It’s nice, but I went more than a year not going there until I got a job there. Nothing against it but you people are like the Apple fanboys who defend a brand to the death. It’s not that serious and you likely have no personal vested interest in it … Just live.

  8. Truth says:

    Sand comes in, sand goes out. It never stops. If you have patience and can wait for it it will be back. If you have no patience it will still come back in it’s own sweet time. Some things are man made. Everything else is made and run by God and that’s not good enough for some.

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    • Anonymous says:

      yes, not good for the logical.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure you understand the live coral/parrotfish/drop off facets to the problem.

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    • Anonymous says:

      you need to look a little further back than the movement of the sand to the creation of the sand which is part of a large ecosystem and cycle including coral and fish and therein lies the actual core of the problem.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    DART hasn’t torn down the old Hyatt building since Hurricane Ivan, despite there being a law in place with a daily fine for this type of non-action.

    Government after Government has not had the balls to put an enforcement in place to get this eyesore torn down and the lot cleaned up. Any other place in the world, he would have either paid through the nose or the Government would have come in, cleaned it up and took him to court to recoup the funds.

    If anyone thinks that a managed retreat is in DART’s plans, think again..It will not happen and this is just another ploy by DART to keep this Government in check just like they have done with previous governments.

    There has to come a time when the law wins out over DART’s money but it seems like he has enough to ensure that no Cayman Islands law applies to him.

    By the way, has anyone seen the state that he has left the old Britannia golf course in? Shameful!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Hurricane Ivan was in 2004. Check again as to since when Dart has owned that property.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Does it matter what year DART purchased the Hyatt? Does that give them the a bly to leave it in its present state?

        The Britannia golf course looks terrible..

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      • wtb says:

        regardless of when he assumed control of this property is irrelevant unless he made a side deal with government to waive him of that responsibility.
        In any event given his seemingly endless wealth one would think he would want to at least help with the overall keeping of the Island which he is now a citizen of I assume. Let alone the Royal Palms site.
        Seems like he is a bit of an ass- – – – to be honest.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    The Marriott must retreat as well in that case. They have options, here is just one of them they can consider.

    https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/sky-pool

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  11. linda hillgrove says:

    1st came to Grand Cayman in ’79 & have been back 31-times…THEN, Darts “place” NOW next to Coral Beach which in fact was the now torn down Coral Caymanian Hotel run by the Fosters….the Royal Palms was a hotel, as well until that BURNED down….there was NO Marriots…very few buildings beyond the RPS….FEW tv(s); few phones; PROGRESS ?? Don’t know, I only visit and have NO say….hope ALL goes well for a once beautiful ISLAND

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  12. Anonymous says:

    We, The People For The Reinstatement Of Royal Palms (PFTRORP) hereby demand that it be returned to its previous state.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    What’s good for one has to be good for all. Will everyone else step up to the plate and retreat? Didn’t think so.

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    • Anonymous says:

      How come Royal palms never had a problem before and now Dart owns the property and the wall falls into the sea?
      A 30 story building. UGLY!!

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      • Anonymous says:

        We found a Trump voter folks.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Because Treasure Islands rock swimming area has changed the flow of the sand. Everything went bad as soon as they put it in. It must be removed and the proper flow of sand will return.

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        • Anonymous says:

          You really need to review the history of the beach areas just north and south of Sunset Cove. It was designed to not be a solid wall, waves are diminished sure, but flows through the rocks. The solid walls on other properties are the real culprit.

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      • Anonymous says:

        This has to be one of the most stupid comments ever. Are you seriously blaming Dart for the weather now? SMH

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        • Anonymous says:

          Was it caused by weather or inactivity/not keeping up with repairs? Not all of us are as smart as you 8:16.

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      • Anonymous says:

        This is what I want to know too. Visited that spot for decades and somethings not right about how suddenly and conveniently this recent “storm damage” caused it to be so unrecognisable now.

  14. Anonymous says:

    If I owned the property, I’d likely remove the whole resort all-together.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Make an offer?

      • Anonymous says:

        I made that comment to recognize the people that care
        about the land scarcity along 7MB.
        The man with the land papers decides
        what his block of parcel is worth.

        But you may name a price, and it might sell.
        Then a miracle happens, and the new owner decides not to sell at a superfluous price.

        This particular block of land is worthy of a headline for obvious reasons – it is near the beach coast.
        It is in such proximity that you could have swum around the area.
        But we know this is not the case right now.

        The current developers’ projects show us that we must consider ways to make our own properties seaworthy. We can also ‘dare to dream’.
        IF only we could… Now, we move on to the next and pray for recovery.
        The current developer will finish the work somehow.

        If you were Caymans next mega-millionaire, what would you do with the parcel of land? What would you do to emphasize with the groans of the minorities?

        If you can spend a few million dollars to secure jobs for
        Caymans’ youth: reduce harm to the environment and hire the
        unemployed; Call here home because this is where you belong.

  15. Anonymous says:

    DART needs to retreat from their lofty ambitions and rescale their enterprise to better match the attention level of their small (revolving) managerial capacity.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    I believe all buildings near the ocean should be up on stilts. At least 8 feet above the ground. Like a pier construction. Its the way our ancestors built their houses.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    30 story buildings?!

    Yeah man, anyone started thinking maybe SMB could be SINKING?

    Wind patterns on SMB changed so drastically due to huge buildings?

    Unna must be smokin someting hella strong not to be stopping erryting here forward.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Oh my the geniuses are out in full force. No, the beach is not sinking, the sea level is rising and more severe and frequent storms are occurring.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    wish he would retreat back to Belize

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  19. Anonymous says:

    You are a complete idiot to compare Goebbels to Dart. Dart may be many things, but he hasn’t been one of the architects of a genocide and world war that killed tens of millions of people.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe my eyes…we used to dance at Royal Palms every Friday night…

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    • Anonymous says:

      Honeymooned there in 1984. I cry for what Caymanians have allowed to happen to their island. You can blame greedy developers all you want, but ultimately it was the spineless and naive former landowners who sold out; then the spineless and under-educated CIG who allowed the developers to do whatever they wanted. And the spineless and completely un-educated electorate who to this day elect unqualified Ministers to their posts. As an example – the recently elected speaker and Deputy Speaker. What a travesty, and their appointments do not bode well for any improvement in brain power or ethics.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    cringe. I wrote better poetry in year 6

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Why has nothing been done or taken care of in 2 years- ulterior motives? Took away one of the best places for residents and tourists alike. Poor Cayman sold out.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Sorry but wtf?! Where has the beach gone? It used to be 50 yards to walk to the water.

    I’m absolutely shocked at this, apologies, but i’ve not been back to Cayman for a while. This is simply unbelievable. And sad

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Please.
    A managed retreat is a wonderful idea. In totality.

    But to do it in one place in between all others? I have ice to sell eskimos

    The facts and truth are clear – south of maybe Lacovia, everyone is screwed for the next 10-20 yrs

    And then it will switch back

    It will always be this way, it’s how it’s always been

    The real problem is that government ignored the master plan of the late 70’s and 80’s where the road would be ocean side of all buildings:

    We are forever doomed. The condos will keep getting built because 90% of them are occupied only 2 weeks per year..the owners don’t care..the realtors don’t care..the developers don’t care

    Meanwhile we caymanians are stuck..no beach, no land, no rights

    I urge all residents to go with Ken Bryan and move the Governor and take the beach back for the people

    And I pray we never go higher than as high as buildings are now and we stop allowing anymore

    But cireba and developers don’t. Care about you or me

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  25. Anonymous says:

    that sea wall has been around for 30-40 years…so how has it caused beach erosion in last few years?

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  26. Anonymous says:

    yawn ..more anti-dart waffle.
    why would he do anything to harm his property?

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  27. Anonymous says:

    There’s a growing list of neglected estate management matters (some of them dangerously) that we might ask about. The multi-decade high-handed approach the public has endured, shouldn’t be rewarded with unsupervised concessions and bottomless contracts of work.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    What about the adjacent length of seawall to the north and gazebo?!? Who signed-off to approve all of that?

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    • Anonymous says:

      The one that is probably most responsible for the erosion to adjacent properties? Good question!

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  29. Anonymous says:

    This is exactly why the argument that was made with the Port about using silt screens was BS. There is no way that silt screens would have prevented further damage to the corals that weren’t “removed”.

    I really hope that they do the managed retreat and it shows the rest of the owners on the beach what is really the only reasonable way to solve the beach erosion.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    PLEASE tear down the current building so the beach can recover. Move the new building back into the parking lot. Is there no way you can build parking on the backside of the building, even if it’s up 4 floors? Wouldn’t that be adequate?

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  31. Anonymous says:

    From my fairly reliable sources, internally, Dart will not proceed with a resort in that area until the height restrictions are increased in the future. It is just too valuable a parcel of land (linearly, the whole tract of land, from the beach to Camana Bay).

    The hotel structure would be mainly located between West Bay Road and Camana Bay, and only partially extend over the overpass. Most of the land between WBR and the water would be for beach/pools etc.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Isn’t it funny the respect we give dart for his amazing development aspirations…he took over his daddy’s company. He’s a vulture funder..they are not developers
      They are stupidly wealthy company that can pay anything without any concern
      We all suffer
      How hard is it to follow this?

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      • Anonymous says:

        I observe Camana Bay on the weekend and there are hundreds, maybe even a thousand people, dining, visiting, walking, and enjoying the surroundings created. I never imagined it would be this busy. How can what Dart has contributed be all bad? How many Caymanians sold their property, likely at an appreciated value, to Dart and improved their financial standing?

        There are families in every country who have inherited generational wealth- is that not normal?

        No one would claim Dart to be perfect, but surely what they have built and invested in is not all bad?

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        • Stupid Circus says:

          Most of what Dart is responsible for having done to Cayman in order to force their agenda is not going to be published, nor are they in any fear of being held accountable in any tangible way.

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    • #RoyalPalmSundays says:

      Voters keep up the fight long enough, don’t give into the fools destroying it.

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  32. Anonymous says:

    Having lots of money does not mean you have class or care about the environment and Cayman in general.

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  33. New Caymanian says:

    Dart do not care about the environment they are masters of green washing.
    Their primary objective is creating the next South Beach with 30-50 floor towers as an monument to a billionaire’s ego. This is Cayman not South Beach. Why can’t they accept that and commit to projects that will enhance the country not create an apartheid style social structure that excludes the average person?

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  34. Anonymous says:

    Mr Bush Havent you done enough damage with your status grants. Thirty Story buildings will be worse.

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    • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

      McKeeva’s last gift to the people, 30 story buildings on SMB.

      That is what you do when you are I the pocket of developers.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Big Mac doesn’t have gifts for the people, or anyone else without a fax machine. Maybe he will do a Tik Tok video with his payment request when he and Jay get the 30-story high rise bill through the first reading.

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