October 24, 2020

Spotts Landing plan gets green light

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Ellio Solomon at Tuesday night’s meeting

The Central Planning Authority has approved multi-million-dollar improvements to Spotts Landing, with construction expected to start by May at the latest, and finishing within 
eight months.

Meanwhile, as completion nears on a final framework agreement with port developer China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), Premier McKeeva Bush on Tuesday night announced appointment of renowned Miami-based marine architect and engineer Luis Ajamil as consultant and 
project manager.

The 13-member Central Planning Authority this week approved the 1 February Port Authority Board application for the Spotts Landing, foul-weather alternative to the George Town cruise-ship port, giving the nod to the 9,179 sq foot Shamrock Road project, set on nearly four acres.

The one-storey covered dock and single pier will encompass a pedestrian courtyard, 10 kiosks, public transport and parking areas, restrooms, a chain link fence and boundary and retaining walls. The Department of the Environment nonetheless worried that the application was premature because developers had not sought a Coastal Works permit, potentially delaying work on the pier.

Meanwhile, at Tuesday’s public meeting reviewing developments in the tourism industry and attended by George Town MLAs Mike Adam and Ellio Solomon, a standing-room-only South Sound Community Centre audience heard Mr Bush announce Mr Ajamil’s appointment.

“Luis Ajamil is now our consultant,” he said, “and KPMG is doing the value-for-money study. Once they look at what we’ve got, Mr Ajamil’s position and expertise comes into play. He will turn to the Central Tenders Committee and if they don’t like it, then we may have to go to court to get this done because we need it.”

Mr Ajamil’s Miami-based Bermello Ajamil & Partners, founded in 1939, is among the world’s leading marine architecture and engineering firms, having been involved in more than 80 ports, including Dubai’s Maritime City, New York’s Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and St Petersburg, Russia’s 25-hectare seven-ship cruise-ship and ferry port.

“They have a tremendous degree of expertise in ports,” Mr Solomon told iNews Cayman yesterday, “and once we get past the framework agreement, which is the principal document, they will get into definitive details, like pouring concrete, getting materials, even where the hammers come from, that sort of thing.

“They are construction managers as we key on the definitive agreement,” he said.

Mr Ajamil was also part of the Dart Enterprises Construction Company team that was initially designated by Mr Bush to build the George Town port, but moved into the background after government rejected its proposal for a 99 year lease.

Speaking of the impending CHEC agreement, which Mr Solomon earlier predicted would be signed in mid-February, Mr Bush said that the company had agreed, “at their cost, to move the Balboa to another site,” a reference to objections to George Town berthing on the grounds that Hog Sty Bay dive sites and associated shipwrecks would be destroyed.

After long effort and a succession of bidders, Mr Bush said, “we believe we have found a company with the wherewithal and the finance” to build the port.

“We told them ‘you will not have control of the port, you will rent accommodation for your people and you will share the income once you have earned back what you paid.”

Mr Bush said he had traded a payback period of nearly 40 years for a lower annual rate of return to CHEC.

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