By James Whittaker, Pinnacle Media
The Dart group has been given permission to begin removing rocks from the shallow coastal waters off a Seven Mile Beach property where it hopes to build a new five-star hotel.
The developer has been granted a coastal works license for a trial removal of beach rock at the site just north of the new Kimpton Seafire Resort.
The pilot project will test the methodology and feasibility of a much larger excavation of the partially submerged rocks, which Dart believes makes for an uncomfortable beach entry and hinders snorkeling and swimming in the area.
A partnership with a five-star brand, understood to be the Four Seasons, to build on the site hinges to some extent on the rocks being removed.
Jackie Doak, president of Dart Real Estate, said the issue is important to the deal.
“Suffice to say we have not signed any agreement with them [the hotel brand] because we are waiting to see the findings of this license application. That’s an indication of its importance to both of us.”
Dart expects to begin excavating this month and, pending the outcome of its study, to submit a new coastal works application for the larger excavation by the end of the year.
Approval of the first phase of the beach rock removal comes amid a busy week for the developer, which announced it was rebranding and changing its name from Dart Realty to Dart Real Estate to reflect its growing portfolio of properties in the Cayman Islands.
It was also granted a certificate of occupancy for the Kimpton Seafire Resort on Monday and will host its first event at the site, the Young Caymanian Leadership Awards ceremony on Saturday, before opening to guests mid-month.
With the paint still drying on the Kimpton, Dart is already looking ahead to its next project and will begin design work on the neighboring property if it gets permission for removal of the rocks.
The initial excavation of a small section of beach rock is expected to take less than a day. A silt screen will be installed and a 350 excavator used to scoop the rock out from the beach.
Geologists will examine the sample to confirm that it is beach rock, which is fast forming and considered less ecologically significant than ironshore or bedrock. They will also examine the depth of the divot created by the removal and how it can be backfilled, potentially with sand created by crushing the beach rock.
Ms. Doak said Dart is confident from the research already completed that the study would show no significant adverse impact on marine life or on the dynamics of Seven Mile Beach.
“The five-star hotel team, when they looked at this site, they came and snorkeled it because they wanted to see if it might be a reef that could be an amenity for guests, but it is actually just beach rock.
“Given our land holdings and our commitment to the destination, it would be unwise of us to request removal of beach rock if it was going to have a negative impact on Seven Mile Beach.”
The new hotel is expected to take around three years to design and build and will be set well back from the beach, forming part of a luxury “sea to sea resort district” stretching from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club on the North Sound to Seven Mile Beach.
Ms. Doak said Dart’s growing portfolio of properties inspired the rebrand from Dart Realty to Dart Real Estate.
She said the company’s developments have a shared ethos and personality that revolve around its new brand slogan, “Architects of lifestyle; Shaping the way we live, work and play.”
She added, “Part of our development ethos is about the journey as you move through the places. You see it at Camana Bay and you will see it at Seafire as well.
“The name is just a little bit broader and reflects the diversity and breadth of our land holdings.”