It’s not a deal, Mr Premier, it’s a steal

| 18/07/2012

On the local radio on June 19th, 2012 the premier was poking fun at our group for opposing the giving away of a section of our West Bay Road. He compared the situation to a man selling a car for $2,000, the buyer refurbishing the car and then reselling it for $5,000. The premier asked “Are you going to ask for the $3,000 profit he made on the car?”

No, Mr Premier, that is a poor analogy. The buyer spent money to refurbish the car and making a profit of $3,000 is his due. However, when the developer gets the title to the Crown Land, that is the 4,290 feet of West Bay Road, he immediately gets $600 million in his pocket without doing any upgrading, construction or refurbishing of his property that he owns on the land side of the road. Being in the real estate business yourself, Mr Bush, surely you will admit that the value of Seven Mile Beach land depends on its depth from the beach/high water mark to its boundary with the West Bay Road.

It therefore follows that the simple act of combining the width of the West Bay Road with the developer’s beach parcels increases the value of those parcels significantly. Just think what happens value-wise when those enlarged beach parcels are then also combined with the developer’s landside property: his property will all then be marketed as beachfront property because it will stretch from the Seven Mile Beach high water mark, across the closed section of West Bay Road, through his Stan Thomas acquisitions including the Yacht Club, and all the way to the [western] boundary of the Esterly Tibbetts Highway and its extension to Batabano Road. The resulting combination of parcels will immediately at least triple (or more) in value as he will now sell his residential lots as beachfront property!

How did we come up with the above figure of $600 million? Two studies were done by reputable real estate agents on the value of that same West Bay Road in the vicinity of the Public Beach and the Old Courtyard Marriot Hotel. One was done in March 2010 and the other in early 2011. They showed that for every 500 feet of property on the landside the value of the property was increased by $70 million once they acquired the West Bay Road to now become beachfront property. The length of the road that the developer covets is not 2,500 feet, as they were misleading us for 9 months, but is actually 4,290 feet. 500 feet goes into 4290 feet 8.58 times and when multiplied by $70 million gives a total of $600.6 million that the developer will be getting immediately once he gets the title to that section of the road.

We must also add the value of the road itself that isprime, world famous Seven Mile Beach property – priceless.

This road is 4,290 feet in length and 70 feet wide, which gives a total of 300,300 square feet. We wonder what amount the developer told the PricewaterhouseCoopers reviewers that this road was worth since it appears he is calling all the shots. We also wonder what length of road the PWC review was assessing. Was it the 2,500 feet which is worth a lot less that the actual 4,290 feet? How independent was the review by PWC when only the developer and the government made submissions? Objectors and other interested persons were not allowed to do so.

We have not been able to get to see the NRA Agreement that was signed on December 15th, 2011. We applied on a couple of occasions using the Freedom of Information Act to get copies of this “deal” but we were denied.

Thankfully, as a copy has this week come into the possession of Mr Ezzard Miller it has now been brought out into the public domain. What transparency! Talk about secrecy! Keeping the public in the dark for 7 months and they talk about good governance? Is the PWC review going to take the same route of secrecy and keeping the public in the dark?

In the deal the developer is alsogetting about 75 acres in Barkers and another 73 acres of Crown Land in Salt Creek. He is getting at least $45 million in tax concessions and Room Tax Exemption for 10 years after the hotel is built. He is also getting the re-zoning of 45 acres of mangrove land behind Camana Bay so that he can fill with marl and sell as residential lots. The extension of Esterley Tibbetts Highway up to Batabano Road will open up his land in that area making it even more valuable. In addition, moving the dump away from his proposed residential lots will increase the value of his Camana Bay property in that area.

When all is added up the developer is getting over $1,000 million. In return he is giving ~$100 million over the next 25 years. We are getting the extension of the Esterley Tibbetts highway ($33 million), moving the dump ($26 million), $5 million (for community projects), $4 million (for supplemental budget), land clearing jobs, show gutting hotel and lately a cemetery (in the swamp) in West Bay, a Sunrise Centre and a mini Public Beach.

So Mr Premier, where is the value for money? You are giving away the country’s assets worth over $1,000 million and in exchange Cayman is getting $100 million. How on heaven’s earth can you call this a ‘fantastic deal’? This you have said on numerous occasions when you referred to Caymanians who oppose this deal as idiots. The For Cayman Investment Alliance (FCIA) should be renamed the For Dart Investment Alliance (FDIA) or simply “THE STEAL”.

Why is it that the deal is constantly being altered? Just a few days ago we heard of some more projects that the developer was undertaking as part of this deal. Is it because the independent review team of PWC has obviously seen that there is not value for money and someone has recommended to the developer to throw in a few more trinkets into the pot so that the deal looks a little bit fairer? Even with these few additions the developer is getting 10 times what he is giving which is grossly unfair.

It is a shame and a disgrace that we have a greedy developer coming to the Cayman Islands and sees our beautiful West Bay Road and decides that he wants 4,290 feet for himself and he has no regard for the Caymanians who built that road over 100 years ago and have used it ever since. We need the Esterley Tibbetts Highway to complement the West Bay Road and not to replace it. He can also build his hotel with an overhead pass just like the Ritz Carlton and Hyatt did previously. He does not just want the 500 feet of West Bay Road in front of the Old Courtyard Marriot, which was the excuse first used in giving him the section of West Bay Road, but wants 4,290 feet. This extra amount of road is for future speculation. What a disgrace!

It is even more disgraceful and shameful that we have a desperate government, so hell bent on starting a project to go into the upcoming elections that they see nothing wrong in giving away so much valuable assets that belong to the people of the Cayman Islands to this developer for little or nothing. The people were never consulted on this deal. We were only informed that it was taking place. “You not stopping me. This project is going ahead,” the premier said at a meeting at Mary Miller Hall June 2011. The developer is getting the bank and all the gold and money inside it and in exchange he is giving the government a pouch full of pennies in return. What a STEAL!

The government only listens to their supporters and pays no regard to the rest of us who do not agree with the government’s projects that are not in the best interests of the country. If the developer so loves Caymanians and that he is doing these projects for us why does he not leave our West Bay Road alone and stop buying up all the existing Crown Lands for himself. Who has given the developer the permission to acquire such extensive tracts of Crown Land all over Grand Cayman? Was due process adhered to in these transactions?

Morally, environmentally, economically and culturally this project is wrong. This project had its beginning in the previous UDP administration of 2001 – 2005. They amended laws to suit the plans for this project – the Vesting of Crown Lands Law etc. In June 2011 the project was shoved down our throats. No one was going to change the government’s mind. What is even more frightening is that we still do not know all the details of this deal, the facets of this very complex deal are constantly changing and we dare say that not even the government knows what is going on or what they are actually getting as of now.

We say to you Caymanians wake up before it is too late. Wake up before your environment is permanently destroyed and your beaches, your lands, your businesses and your way of life are all taken away from you, forever.

What will we tell our children thirty years from now when they come asking us: “What did you do to stop this wanton destruction of our environment, our protective mangroves? Why did you not stop the wholesale giving away of our Crown lands, our assets, our rights to our beaches and our roads to the extent that nothing was left for us and our children?” All we will be able to do is bow our heads in shame and regret.

To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.

Wake up Cayman!

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (33)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. UH UH UH! says:

    What I would like to do here is to give the reader some opinions of the  pros & cons of Mr. Darts proposals for the Island, some of which have already been implemented. 

     

    Let's start with Camana Bay!  Beautiful in my opinion! And it comes with great amenities such things as a  state of the art theatre, lots of retail space, fine restaurants, residences, banks and offices all of   which have been provided with adequate parking and the place is  beautifully  landscaped.  Looks perfect doesn't it? But let's take a closer look and see what's happening behind the scenes. 

     

    Take a look at who really own these businesses in Camana Bay!  I have been told by someone who has a business there that he was recruited by the Dart Group to open the business of which he is just a "part" owner, because The Dart Group are really the people who are in control. This is just one example of how one men can take control of  so much without anyone having the slightest idea that these kind of things are happening. 

     

    Think of all the recent purchases of real-estate by The Dart Group. Have they published a list of what they have aquired? Absolutely not!! Nobody does! So you see a Person like Mr. Dart can easily take control of this little piece of paradise called "Cayman" and most people won't even know it has happened!

     

    I'm not here to say what Mr. Dart's intentions are: Far be it from me to try to read his mind.  But I am a cautious person and I believe in a thing called "analytical observation" a thing I was taught at an early age. In other words WATCH WHAT A MAN DOES AND NOT WHAT HE SAYS!  Which is a prudent thing to do, so as to avoid any surprises!

     

    The writer states that there are [600] six hundred Caymanians  employed by the Dart Group of Companies. Here I beg to disagree with the writer,  because I know  most assuredly "THERE ARE NOT" that many CAYMANIANS directly employed by The Dart Group. What I do know is, that if one takes avery close look at the numbers of employees who work directly for them, you will find that most of them are British or American expats or status holders. And I'm happy for them. 

     

    But the writer and others make statements like if we Caymanians didn't sell the land Mr. Dart could not buy it!  True!  But before I continue! Let me ask you this! Have you ever been in a position where you were forced give up something that you really didn't want but due to circumstances you felt it was the prudent thing to do at the time. 

     

    We all have been there! Thats Life!! So don't speak of those of us who may have found ourselves in difficulties, financially or otherwise that was forced to make a decision which we had to make to do what was necessary to feed ones kids or something else equally as important. That Sir/Madam is called love of family. Something which the writer may know little about. 

     

    Mr. Dart has done some things for this Island which I applaud him for but he's not to be  revered as if he is going to be our savior from ourselves as you stated. XXXX. 

     

    Read about Mr. Dart  and you see that there's one thing you will never see in his Biography that is:  That  Mr. Dart is a great philanthropist! Warren Buffet donates billions, Bill Gates does the same, and many others: Pray tell me what has Mr. Dart done. Well he did give us a few parks but he had to get his name on them! Kind of a sneaky way of advertising!  Oh and I for got he also gave the Premier $5,000,000.00 to bail out the poor Caymanians who were unable to make their mortgage payments, but that too came with a price. Namely some waterfront property in West Bay. "NOT EXACTLY PHILANTHROPICAL"

     

    So let's give Mr. Dart his due, but please let us not drop our guard and believe that he has changed his MODUS OPERANDI. Mr Dart enjoys what he does best:""

     

    "VULTURE CAPITALISM"

  2. Anonymous says:

    Throwing facts at a fool or fools is fruitless.  Rocks would work better.

  3. Cay star says:

    In business, what deal doesn't have concessions?  That is how you make people invest. We give to Dart and Dart gives back to us. We encourage investment by offering deals. It is so simple. I really think that Opposition really want us to tax then, because what other means of revenue are there without crafting good special deals?  I think this referendum is a reflection that UDP will be getting back in – mark my words

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm. I think the point is that we are giving away far too many concessions and getting relatively little in return. Control of this country is being handed to Dart who is acting rather like a loan shark.

      Re you last sentence I think you must have missed out the word "not". Perhaps you think non-votes will be counted as UDP votes in the election as well. Obviously Mac is a bit rattled by the vote and that is why is offering a compromise electoral system.   

  4. Anonymous says:

    Last I checked Cayman was a welcoming place for all investors, not just one.  Just like last I knew Government was a democarcy for all of us, not one man against the majority of us like it is now.  All of you that voted no today will be sorry and those that didnt vote at all will be even more sorry. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Truly 4 Cayman,

      You have got to truly change your way of doing things if you are going to be really affective.

      Hold some Work Shops! 

      TELL CAYMANIANS AND WESTBAYERS TO STOP SELLING THEIR LAND TO DART AND OTHER EXPATS who do not want them on the beach property 5 minutes afer they sign over the title to them!

      Its that simple, not complicated. Furthermore when yu sell your land you sell your power and your inheritance. Caymanians are to blame for selling off their land.

      If they were smart, they would be 'BUYING and no Selling land.

      Selling makes you a slave to the owner. But Buying makes you the owner of a slave!

  5. Len Layman says:

    Very well stated.  Thank you!

  6. Anonymous says:

    If I were Premier:

    Good governance includes good fiscal management with the long-term effects of policy taken into account.

     

    A more equitable deal with Dart would look like this: Take a mile of West Bay Road for yourself (Dart) and whatever Crown land you need to make your project complete. In return Cayman receives 2.6 billion dollars. 0.6 billion of this payout would go to pay off our current nation debt and make us solvent and debt free. The remaining 2 billion dollars goes into a trust fund or similar untouchable investment device in which the government will make about 200 million per year in interest from the trust. A small portion of the interest would be put back into the trust to grow it steadily over time in order to yield a higher return as we grow. This guaranteed revenue would allow government to drastically reduce or eliminate import duties, work permit fees, fuel taxes, hotel room taxes and other encumbrances which are a blockade to economic growth and the cause of our extremely high cost of living. It would make Cayman debt free and a more affordable destination compared to other vacation spots. Businesses would thrive and there would be an abundance of jobs for all sectors.

     

    This is not fantasy, There are corporations that are many times the size of Cayman both in number of people and in terms in wealth. They are flush with billions of dollars in cash just sitting there waiting to be invested. There is no reason why Cayman can't adopt a similar fiscal model for running its' fiscal affairs. We are not a producer nation but we obviously have assets that are worth quite a lot such as beachfront property, climate and location. There is only one Cayman on this planet. It cannot be found anywhere else. It is unique and should not be given away for quick cheap cash because wehave gotten ourselves into a financial hole. Mr. Dart is among the wealthiest individuals in the world. He is now a Caymanian. He should be allowed to develop and improve the island as he has done but at a price which is more commensurate with reality and our long-term needs as a nation. It represents true “value for money”.

     

    The 600 million dollars which is part of the current deal on the table will pay off our nations’ debt but that is all. With the offered duty concessions and proposed split of hotel room taxes, Cayman will find itself right back in the financial hole again in no time flat. The problem is, we won't have any assets left to sell to save us next time. Now is the time, this is the deal and we must ensure that we are getting true value for money. The above scenario is not unrealistic or unfair to Dart or any other developer. A leaner debt-free Cayman will benefit the developer in multiples far greater that the way things currently are. Mr. Dart can afford the 2 to 3 billion for this project and we as a country can all benefit in perpetuity if the money is set aside to act as our goose that lays our golden eggs. We would be the model and envy of all other countries.

    Our current system of wheeling & dealing is rife with the possibility of corruption and bad deals ultimately that can’t be undone and do permanent severe damage to our economic future. Demand true value for this deal. Do not let the Premier sell our birthright for a pittance.

     

    I am against the movement of West Bay Road under the current deal but if the above scenario was to be considered then I would gladly exchange the location of the road for permanent financial security for our country.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      The Non-ForCaymanAlliance.

       

      Although I'd vote for your idea in a heartbeat, I suggest that there is another reasonable alternative here. Government has formed a partnership with a private entity (Dart). In a true and healthy partnership, both sides should be compensated fairly in their joint ventures and share in it's profits. Therefore, I submit that our side of the deal is selling Dart the land at a reasonable price and allowing road movements etc. His input to the deal is the actual development of the projects. It is my contention that we (the Cayman part of the ForCayman Alliance) should also be partaking in the profits of these projects as an equal partner (i.e. 50%). This would result in true "value for money" in that no one could say Dart got the land for a fraction of the price of what it's worth. Any appreciation in value of the land or properties developed on it would also benefit Cayman in the form of profits from said development. Of course this is the true definition of a partnership. If the Alliance was not a sham, we would be active partners in the proceeds of this alliance. The way it is set up with the outright purchase of land will benefit Dart far into the future and leave us broke in the end.

       

  7. Anonymous says:

    'reputable real estate agents'…. hahahahaaa

  8. Anonymous says:

    i think that anyone who criticises the for cayman alliance deal should have to come up with alternative investment solutions….

     

    • Anonymous says:

      How about NOT selling out your country for a new kitchen. Is that an acceptable alternative?

  9. Dreadlock Holmes says:

    Dart sees a government in desperate trouble, not his fault that much is true. But please keep in mind Mr. Dart is a businessman. In quite a few instances he has made his money through what is known as vulture capitalism whereby money is loaned to governments (in depserate trouble) by another party, usually the IMF. When the country is unable or appears to be unable to repay this debt, the debt is purchased for a reduced amount, sometimes amounting to fifty cents on the dollar or less by vulture capitalists. Such was the case in Argentina, where the Dart coporation and others purchased their outstanding national debt. Then the demands begin. Requiring that the country to repay in full the amount of the debt. It has happened countless times.

    In the case of Cayman, you had best believe many actuaries, lawyers, and accountants were busy on Mr. Dart's behalf coming up with this proposal. Cayman had one person representing itself – the Premier. With no formal training in such matters, and even less experience, he fell for it- and signed off. Because of the appearance of what looked like instant cash. Can Mr. Dart be blamed for taking advantage of an incompetent individual who because of an electoral system stumbled into the position of Premier?  One who is obviously prepared to sign anything if it gives the appearance he is in absolute control?  Not at all. As I said, Mr. Dart is a businessman.  This was business.

    In a perfect world the Premier would be held personally accountable for such a one-sided deal which stands to make Mr. Dart a second fortune and Cayman to gain very little. But he won't be.

    He will most likely lose the next election and sail off into the sunset.

    With his own finances in place and a very comfortable retirement.

    He won.

    We lost.

    • Will Ya Listen! says:

      "Dart had many advisors. Cayman had one person representing itself – the Premier"

      There is a reason for that. Dart doesn't pretend to know everything – he may act like it but that is a personality thing as distinct from a business flaw. Have a business plan. Hire smart people. Create an aura. Become Cayman's Howard Hughes (by the way anyone even seen a photograph of this man – Dart not Hughes?).

      McKeeva had a number of very experienced, very bright people advising him. They fell by the wayside as he gambled (bad pun) on knowing everything about everything. He didn't. After that it was not even a contest. Who could blame Bush? After all he wasn't selling HIS stuff,

      I really don't want to be rude or appear condescending but stop whining Cayman. Your parents sold out Cayman starting 30/40 years ago. Now we're having a garage sale. Dart has made more millionaires than paupers in Cayman. He's obsessed with success, power and money. So is Mckeeva (and the rest – don't get too smug Mr Miller). Dart is just way, way better at it.  Hard to blame someone who's really good at what he does.

       

      • noname says:

        So as not to look stupid, Dart is a Caymanian!

        So who are the foreign developers you are talking about?

        There is not one named Dart. He's "Caymanian"

        Dah!

        • Anonymous says:

          I hope one day they legislate that people can fly, so people like you will start jumping off of cliffs

  10. panama_jack says:

    My friend, I think you and your realtors missed math class completely. Giving up 70 x 4290 of a road does not equal 1b giveaway.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Truly4Cayman

     

    As a Caymanian, I thank God for your efforts.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Did you pull $600 million out of your hat?

  13. UDP'r says:

    Why do you have so much against Dart?  When the UK prevented us from borrowing because they see us as great spenders thanks to PPM, how was we able to stimulate the economy and bring in revenue? Dart was the only one who was willing to go alliance with government to bring in revenue. Because of his wealth and willingness to invest here, we would be able to generate enough revenue to create jobs and bring tourist here. Why attack the UDP-Dart alliance?  Why try to tear down instead of building up?  Your article is all about attacking development. How do you think we are going to get revenue??  Another 4 more years of PPM?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because Dart so loves the 'Cayman Islands he is willing to payoff our bills, takecare of us by giving hand outs to the government so that they can in turn give it to social services to look after some of us when we cannot find jobs to work and look after ourselves.

      Dart loves us so that he has bought up half of George Town to perserve it for us, as most of GT have become a virtual ghost town even with cruise ships in but then again who cares when we have the new city Camana Bay that Dart gave us.

      Because Dart loves us so, he gave the government $5 million dollars to  payoff Caymanians mortgages that are in arrears.  For the love of Cayman and Caymanians Dart as bought out Island Companies stores and Black Coral (Passman store) and now they are closed, did he give the Caymanian employed there jobs in his other find establishments?  I am sure that he did, because he loves usso.  Thanks for loving the Cayman Islands so much Dart, so glad you've got our back, soon we will give you a crown because you deserve one and not a MBE or even a Sir or Lord title you deserve the ultimate a crown thus you will become the ruler of Cayman because you loves us so.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Agree!

  15. Anonymous says:

    What an excellent, well-written piece.  Nothing at all to add, except I wholeheartedly agree with you.  And I am a foreigner, at that – go figure !  Would that more Caymanians would awake like you, and see what is truly going on under the very noses.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for your excellent comment, now I know why as a foreigner you are here.  But unlike you I want to remain in my country until the end of my days.  I lived better in my country before the investments of many of the investors of the 90s and would gladly replace these days with those days.   I really wish that you could take  the mighty investor with you to develop your land of origin so that you can stay there and leave me with my rock

      • Anonymous says:

        I hear and sympathize with your grievance, but you should know that all foreigners are not like the wealthy developer in question.  Not all foreigners come here to take advantage.  Some genuinely were attracted to this quiet bit of paradise that was free from the crime, decay and corruption that is rampant in other countries.  Some foreigners have come here and contributed greatly to a better standard of living and stronger economy, without taking advantage and taking away from Caymanians – some actually support this place remaning free from the clutches of powerful wealthy entities and corrupt politicians.  So do not be so quick to dismiss all foreigners – some  are fighting for you while you refuse to fight for your ownselves.

        • Anonymous9 says:

          PERFECTLY stated Anonymous on Wed, 07/18/2012 – 19:18.

           

          Not sure why our Caymanians are so freaking defensive.

          Thanks

        • Anonymous says:

          I was such a foreigner who came for those reasons. Now it clear that Cayman is spiralling into crime, corrosion and decay like its Caribbean cousins, my resume is typed and I am on my way out of here.

      • Anonymous says:

        We don't want that mighty investor in our corner of the world either, not after what google said about past record in other countries.

    • Anonymous says:

      A foreigner, one that is jealous of the prosperity of Cayman and Dart. no crediability.

      • Anonymous says:

        I cannot believe what I have just read.  Prosperity and Cayman should not even be thought of together, much less spoken.  Where is the prosperity?  I certainly do not see any of it.  I have a sick child with M.S. and she gets 550.00 per month from the Government and not the UDP either.  Think of how much of her monthly expenses including supplements for milk and milk by-products, since she is severely allergic to those.  Neither McXXXX nor Ken Dart ever offered her a dollar. so you must be living in some other island, XXXX