Ironwood News

Palmer Backs Major Golf Course Development


Golf legend Arnold Palmer flew into Cayman last week to throw his weight behind a $360 million golf resort project in the eastern districts. 

Mr. Palmer vowed to build one of the world’s best courses in Grand Cayman and suggested the venue would be good enough to host major world tournaments. 

His endorsement came as Premier Alden McLaughlin signed a deal that he said would lead to the construction of a 10-mile extension of the East-West Arterial highway. 

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Though planning permission is yet to be granted for the resort, and the road development is likely to require a series of compulsory purchase orders from landowners along the route, the premier indicated the project has the full support of his government. 

“I’m delighted to be able to sign this agreement ... underscoring the fact that this project is really a go,” he told a packed house at the Westin resort Thursday evening. 

The developer is already selling land plots for the resort, aimed partially at wealthy retirees. Plans for the development include a sports complex, town center and homes. 

One plot was sold for $280,000 in a charity auction at the Westin on Thursday following speeches from Arnold Palmer, the premier and David Moffitt, the developer behind the plan. 

Ironwood said 18 others put down deposits on plots at the Westin event. Ultimately the development will encompass 142 homes. 

Financing was contingent on a deal being agreed to build the road extension, which is seen as crucial to the success of the resort.  

Now that the partnership has been agreed, the developer is confident the other pieces will fall into place. 

Mr. Moffitt said, “I think we have a great project, a bricks and mortar type project, that will bring in retirees to create jobs, not people to take jobs.” 

Mr. McLaughlin said he was “over the moon” that someone of Arnold Palmer’s status was involved in a project that he describes as an “amazing opportunity for Cayman.” 

He said the public private-partnership, which will involve some $40 million in duties being redirected to the road project, complies with the U.K.’s strict borrowing and public finance guidelines. He admitted it had been a challenge to deal with the bureaucracy. 

“Navigating the framework for fiscal responsibility and the provisions of the Public Management and Finance Law with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office looking over your shoulder every step of the way is something of an exercise,” the premier said. 

“I believe today is evidence that it can be done if we apply ourselves, and there is a certain degree of reasonableness and commitment on both sides.” 

He said the borrowing constraints and the general “poorness” of government mean that public-private partnerships will be the way forward for major projects in Cayman. 

“I’m hopeful that this one will set the tone and the standard for what we have to do with other public-private partnerships – the famous or infamous landfill being one, the cruise facility being another.” 

He added that the signing of the road deal on the heels of the opening of Health City made it a marvelous week for Cayman. 

“I think this bodes well for Cayman, and the momentum that this starts to provide will I hope push developers who have ideas and have been waiting on the sidelines to see whether or not we ever come out of this recession.” 

It is not clear what opportunity the public will have to express their opinions on the road project or the resort development as it goes through the planning process. A planned press conference on Friday was postponed. 

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller told constituents at a community meeting Thursday that neither he nor East End legislator Arden McLean had been “invited or informed” of the discussions. He said: “When I get more information I will bring it to you.” 

Get the full story at the Caymanian Compass:


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