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Friday, August 19, 2022


Nearly $380,000 of the 1999 Community Development Block Grant funding will go toward preserving and renovating St. Croix’s unique architecture.
Of the $2.19 million in federal CDBG funds allotted to the territory this year, St. Croix will receive $877,610. Of that, three local nonprofit organizations requested $378,160 to spruce up familiar landmarks around the island.
Our Town Frederiksted will receive $125,000 to rehabilitate homes in the historic west-end town. The St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is getting $120,000 to help renovate the old police station and theater in Christiansted’s Times Square and the St. Croix Landmarks Society will receive $133,160 to make repairs on the Whim Plantation Great House.
The historic Whim Museum property is owned by the V.I. government. The Landmarks Society operates and maintains it under a 30-year lease, said George Tyson, executive director of the Society.
The 250-year-old great house is the largest land-based tourist attraction on St. Croix, Tyson said, with more than 35,000 visitors a year.
Although the building "has withstood what nature has thrown at it" over the centuries, Tyson told V.I. senators recently that damage from Hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn still needed to be repaired. Tyson said the entire roof must be replaced and the windows and doors need structural repair.
The $133,160 that Landmarks will receive is about two-thirds of the sum it had requested, $200,000.
In early 1998, the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development acquired ownership of six derelict buildings in Christiansted's Times Square, including the old theater, the police station, and the burned-out building on the corner of Market and King Streets. The foundation is hoping that its renovations will spur other property owners to follow its example.
Last year’s purchases capped a four-year effort to buy the decaying buildings, plus outstanding debts, from Barclays Bank for $250,000.
Part of this year’s $120,000 block grant will go toward a new roof for the theater. The Foundation had requested $200,000 from the block grant program.
In its eleventh year of existence, Our Town Frederiksted originally sought $350,000 in grant funding to rehabilitate homes, but received $125,000. Although OTF has received approximately $150,000 from the V.I. government recently, it was as a subcontractor to the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation, said Evelyn Jones, OTF’s executive director.
Since 1995, OTF has restored 10 residences in Frederiksted, making them available for the housing market. But for the last four years, Jones said the organization hasn’t been awarded any CDBG funds directly.
This year’s $125,000 will go toward keeping Frederiksted affordable for its residents, Jones told senators recently.
"We try to discourage gentrification and real estate speculation," she said. "What we’re looking at is revitalizing the town. We’re not looking at the owners’ financial status."
Also in the CDBG is $25,000 to the St. Croix Committee of the V.I. Historic Preservation Commission for signs marking historically significant structures.

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