Dozens Oppose $125 Million Crystal Harbor Hotel Project
(CNS): A planning application for a large hotel and residential project in Crystal Harbor has generated dozens of objections from residents of the affluent gated community. A request from Land Ltd (Silverfin) for the Prisma Project will be heard by the Central Planning Authority on Wednesday.
The $125 million mixed-use development includes a nine-story, 44-room hotel, 58 apartments, 20 townhouses, five duplexes, and various amenities, including a canal extension. It’s been described by developers as a step in “the evolution of Crystal Harbour”, but residents think it’s a step too far.
The seven-and-a-half-acre site on Crighton Drive (block 17A, plots 145, 146 and 170) is located opposite the Holiday Inn hotel, but residents said they thought the scale of this proposed project was incompatible with their community and insensitive to their quiet family neighborhood, which is made up largely of single-family homes with nothing in the area exceeding three stories.
The developers, who were the original developers of Crystal Harbour, requested a number of setback waivers from planning rules, including setbacks from roads and canals for various reasons.
Dozens of opponents have written to the planning outlining a catalog of issues with the proposed project, many of which relate to these deviations and what neighboring landowners claim are deviations from planning regulations and fear that the project plans are incomplete. Objectors also exhibit a number of more emotional concerns about the effect this development would have on their quality of life.
A number of issues have also been raised by the Department of the Environment which has undertaken a review exercise on behalf of the National Conservation Council. Despite the size of the project, the DoE concluded that an environmental impact assessment was not required. But he still identified several issues with the project that will need to be addressed.
From an ecological perspective, the DoE said the site no longer has much value because the mangroves that once covered the site were previously removed and the site filled in.
The department’s main concern was the project’s impact on the marine environment and the water quality of the canals, which “contain seagrass beds, benthic algae and marine species that depend on these important habitats”.
The DoE has also raised questions about the canal expansion, which will add additional water volume towards the end of a ‘dead-end’ canal system that could have water quality implications due to improper movement and rinsing of water.
With a proposal to excavate a 12ft channel, experts warn it could be too deep to allow enough ambient light to reach the seabed of the channel, preventing the establishment of marine plants and algae that could contribute to water quality.
“Given the mass of boating facilities, marinas and the theoretical number of boats proposed for this small canal area, there is a risk that boating-related pollution will further exacerbate the poor quality of the water,” the DoE warned, noting that this will need to be resolved.
The DoE also discussed the wider implications of a development of this scale and recommended prior assessment of hotels. The department also questioned where this project fits into Cayman’s updated tourism policies and overall development goals.
Meanwhile, the applicants claim that the project fits into the future tourism needs of the Cayman Islands by offering a boutique hotel that will attract a new type of “international traveler” and that the whole Prisma project will improve the community of Crystal. Harbour.
See the request and objections on the CPA agenda in the CDS Library (scroll down to ‘Prisma’)