Dart Realty announced today the intent to submit a Coastal Works application to conduct site investigations and remove samples of beachrock in the water just off Seven Mile Beach for further study.
The proposed trial site is north of Tiki Beach, where the beachrock sits just below the high-water mark, creating an unpleasant water entry experience. The beachrock is too shallow to swim over and can cause beachgoers to slip and stumble should they attempt to walk over it.
The objectives of the trial include collecting samples of beachrock for analysis, testing the proposed removal methodology, ascertaining the thickness of the beachrock and what lies beneath it and determining whether the beachrock can be broken up to produce suitable beach replacement sand.
The Coastal Works application is informed by recent studies conducted by recognised experts with in-depth knowledge of and experience with Grand Cayman’s natural environment, including Dr. Brian Jones and Dr. Richard Seymour. These studies include an analysis of onshore beachrock samples by Dr. Jones – the authority on the geologic history of the Cayman Islands – as well as a comprehensive habitat assessment from the shoreline to a depth of six feet by environmental firm Cardno. Their marine biology study determined the beachrock supports primarily macroalgae and encrusting sponges and that the area has a relatively low density of coral colonies and significantly less diversity in coral species than nearby areas.
In addition, Dr. Seymour, the acknowledged expert on the natural history of Seven Mile Beach who participated in the 2003 Beach Review and Assessment Committee study, evaluated the potential rock removal and implications on Seven Mile Beach. He recommends the beachrock removal be permitted. According to Dr. Seymour, the beachrock is not functioning as a mini-breakwater and does not change the main along-shore and cross-shore systems which transport sand on Seven Mile Beach. Coastal engineering studies by Calvin Giordano & Associates/Applied Technology & Management have also studied the impact of beachrock removal at the proposed trial site and support Dr. Seymour’s analysis.
The proposed beachrock removal trial and site investigation would then inform a second Coastal Works application for the project execution. These applications will be submitted in accordance with the Coastal Works application process and are scheduled to occur around the established turtle nesting patterns on this section of Seven Mile Beach. Subject to the Department of Environment’s review of all technical documentation and Cabinet’s approval, the beachrock removal trial would be conducted in late April and the project execution would be scheduled to commence in November.
Dart Realty met with the Cayman Islands Government and relevant departments, including the Departments of Environment, Tourism and Planning, to receive guidance in accordance with established policies and to help inform the process and documentation requirements.
“Dart Realty is committed to responsible, sustainable development and remains a conscientious steward of its land as well as Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, and we are taking a thorough, measured approach in evaluating the removal of beachrock,” said Dart Realty Chief Operating Officer Jackie Doak.
During the past year Dart Realty explored several resort master-planning concepts and evaluated different locations on Seven Mile Beach. Dart Realty identified the land north of Tiki Beach based on the depth of the parcel and the beach frontage as well as pedestrianized connectivity to the Cayman Islands Yacht Club. A five-star resort in this location will deliver a luxury guest experience differentiated from competitive offerings in the region. As with Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, the new resort will be designed so that major buildings are set back from the sea, allowing the beach to respond and recover itself naturally after storms, consistent with the findings and best practices of the Beach Review and Assessment Committee report.
The five-star property, which is still in the conceptual phases, is estimated to have 175 rooms and 80 residences. This increase in the island’s hotel room stock, which has been cited as the main factor that is preventing further growth in air arrivals, will catalyse overall tourism spending and fuel the Islands’ economic growth.
“We are approaching our latest sustainable development project with the goal of opening the five-star resort in 2020 and realising more than US$600 million in economic impact and up to 1,200 jobs during the three-year construction period. Once the resort is open, it will employ more than 450 people and contribute significantly to Cayman’s economy through government revenue and visitor spending,” added Ms Doak. “We are also committed to continuing the pipeline of employment opportunities in the construction sector by transitioning the workforce to new development projects when others reach completion, such as Kimpton Seafire, which will open in November 2016.”