There are major capital developments and big changes in Cayman's infrastructure to look forward to in 2020, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many projects have had to halt construction and plans have been put on hold for the time being.
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Cayman's infrastructure is upgrading and expanding across the island from Health City in East End to the Owen Roberts International Airport and continuous efforts to stimulate growth in the capital.
Expansion at Health City Cayman Islands
Health City Cayman Islands celebrated its sixth anniversary in February 2020, with each year bringing more patients, new medical achievements and continued recognition for the hospital’s outstanding work.
Adding to its expansive facility, Health City Cayman Islands broke ground in December 2019 on the Caribbean’s first Cancer Treatment Centre. It will be the first comprehensive cancer centre in the Caribbean, offering medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation, and accommodation for overseas patients, in addition to being a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) facility.
The project reflects the next logical step in the hospital’s endeavor to offer high quality, yet affordable, healthcare.
Along with the rest of the health care facilities on-Island, Health City Cayman Islands remains dedicated to the fight against COVD-19. As of April 2020, they are open for emergencies only and are offering virtual doctor consultations via their Virtual Outpatient Department.
Dart Projects for 2020
In October 2019, Foster’s opened the doors on its newest and largest grocery store situated at the north end of the Camana Bay property. Twice the size of the brand’s previous flagship store at The Strand Shopping Centre, the 60,000 sq. ft. expansion accommodates a wider overall variety of products, as well as more gourmet, specialty and organic products. The reimagined Bay Market Café, located within the store, offers a deli-style atmosphere with close to 300 daily menu items to choose from.
In September 2017, Dart Real Estate submitted an application to the Department of Planning for a four-level parking structure with approximately 325 spaces to accompany the supermarket. The two buildings would be connected by a covered, 50 ft. wide pedestrian walkway. There have been no further updates on this aspect of the project.
Work continues on OLEA, the town’s first for-sale residences. Ranging from one-bedroom condos to four-bedroom townhouses, these luxury residences will be adjacent to Cayman International School (C.I.S). Phase 1A was slated for completion in August 2020, and Phase 1B in November 2020, however, this has been pushed back due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
The US$60 million expansion project to double Cayman International School’s current size and capacity to 1,100 students is still underway. The project includes the addition of an early childhood campus and an 87,000 sq. ft. high school with amenities such as drama and music facilities, a double gym and a media centre. This expansion will allow each grade to grow from having three classes to having four, providing some much-needed relief to Cayman’s maxed out school system.
And that is just within Camana Bay… outside, Dart Group have even bigger projects in the works.
There are also plans for a five-star resort to be built on Cayman’s west coast near Camana Bay, the reopening of the Grand Cayman Beach Suites, and the controversial plans for development on Dart-owned land on the fringes of the Barkers Peninsula National Park.
The proposed development at Barkers includes the removal of 180,000 sq. ft. (over four acres) of turtle grass and the construction of a 300 ft. pier. The environmental impact that this will have has caused public outcry, and a petition has begun to save one of the Island’s last unspoiled beaches from commercial development.
Owen Roberts International Airport & Cayman Airways
Work remains ongoing for The Owen Robert’s International Airport redevelopment and expansion project. The $55 million redesign, which commenced in October 2015, has been carried out in phases and ultimately endeavours to greatly maximise the capacity of the existing facility, expanding the square footage from 77,000 to 208,000.
This spacial increase has made room for new arrival and departure halls, as well as a new baggage and screening area. Further additions include a children’s play area, mothers’ nursing station, digital flight information displays, common-use self-service kiosks, 39 check-in counters and nine departure gates.
In November 2019, the Central Planning Authority approved the Cayman Islands Airports Authority’s (CIAA) application to begin work on the external phase of the redevelopment project. Due to the border closures in March 2020 and the drastic decrease in air traffic in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, work on the airfield has been expedited.
A considerable amount of work has been started as of May 2020, including the lengthening and strengthening of the existing runway, a new parallel taxiway, filling in the surrounding ponds and the introduction of an airfield perimeter road, and is progressing well. However it is unlikely that the September completion date will be met since foreign experts needed for the apron expansion work are unable to enter Cayman until the border closure has been lifted.
Progressing with their Fleet Modernization Plan, the first of four Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts landed on-Island and joined Cayman Airways’ roster on December 3rd, 2018. However, Cayman Airways made the decision in March 2019 to indefinitely ground two brand new Boeing 737 Max 800 aircrafts as part of a global move in the wake of two fatal 737 crashes that were seemingly the result of a wiring issue. As such, Cayman Airways has had to push off plans to retire the Boeing 737-300s from their fleet.
Stimulating Growth in the Capital
Stimulating growth in Cayman’s historic capital is still a priority: the Government has assigned a technical team to investigate a holistic revitalisation of the downtown George Town area that will also look carefully at the impact that the Cruise Berthing Facility would have on the area.
Stimulating growth in the capital has been a priority for Cayman’s current government. Proposals that deal with changes to traffic and pedestrian flows, beautification, including planting much-needed shade trees, preserving historic areas and landmarks, mixed use commercial and residential developments, will all be carefully examined by the team.
Cayman’s once thriving commercial centre has experienced a contraction since 2008. Not only have small business in the capital taken a hit economically, many corporate companies have moved to Class A commercial spaces in Camana Bay and other leading business centres such as Cricket Square, leaving some older commercial buildings in George Town vacant or under occupied.
Major Road Works & Expansions
The government has continued its major road works and expansions projects to further fix traffic congestion around the Island.
The first phase of the Linford Pierson Highway expansion, which was completed in August 2018, has brought some relief to the often-gridlocked road with the addition of two roundabouts and four lane passages. However, due to backlash from landowners, a third of the highway has not been expanded and, consequently, traffic continues to bottleneck. Phase two – the widening of this final section – has been put on hold as Government focuses on other major projects and attempts to settle legal disputes with landowners.
The Elgin Avenue Extension and Crewe Road Realignment began in July 2018 and, although expected to take only four months, construction is still ongoing (April 2020).
Thus far the project added a new exit to the Cayman National roundabout, allowing Elgin Avenue to be extended and run behind the Cayman Technology Centre parallel to Printer Way, and a new roundabout was then built at the end of the airport runway, connecting Printer Way with Crewe Road and the new section of Elgin Avenue.
Looking towards the future, plans for the $34 million, two-mile Airport Connector Road are beginning to get underway. The road will join the airport with the Camana Bay South Roundabout on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. This hopes to provide a swift route for visitors up the Seven Mile Beach corridor, meanwhile alleviating traffic congestion through George Town.
As part of the George Town Revitalisation Project, development on the road network in and around the capital to help more effectively separate school traffic and reduce congestion around peak hours is on track. This will be a multi-year project.
With Cayman’s population growing, and more cars being added to the road every year, it will be interesting to see if these new roads will have a lasting effect on reducing traffic congestion; widening the roads is perhaps a momentary solution.
A priority for the Cayman Islands’ Government, one that is greatly anticipated by the public, is to steer the collection and management of Cayman’s garbage and waste towards a modern solid waste management solution that combines recycling at its very heart.
Cayman is already benefiting from the environmental awareness and legislation from other countries, as larger producers take responsibility for making their products more sustainable. Yet it remains crucial to slow the increasing flow of rubbish to the landfill. The Government is making efforts to shred used tires, recycle materials and bale scrap metals so that these objects do not take up valuable space in the landfill, whilst also trying to educate both schools and the general public on the importance of home waste reduction. Nevertheless these changes rely on the participation of Cayman’s population, and people are urged to make the attitude and lifestyle changes required in order to reduce waste, and environmental impact.
The latest plan to tackle Cayman’s ever-growing landfill site, as announced at the end of 2017, is to create a comprehensive Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWMS) as a public-private partnership, led by Dart Enterprises. As outlined in the new waste management strategy, when the current landfill site is eventually closed, it will undergo surface water and landfill gas management, and then eventually it will be capped with around five feet of protective layering, and re-vegetated to create a recreational green space. New facilities will then be built which will manage all recyclable and non-recyclable waste for Grand Cayman and also Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. All rubbish will be shipped over to Grand Cayman for processing.
However, with the outbreak of two significant fires at the dump in the first quarter of 2020, each which took days to contain and forced school closures and surrounding residents to evacuate their homes, there has been lots of outcry over what the public has deemed an inability by the government to properly manage the Island’s serious waste issue.
Visit the list of Grand Cayman’s recycling drop off locations if you are interested in reducing your waste impact. These recycling locations are all in convenient location.