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Saturday, December 9, 2023


St. Croix’s dilapidated Louis Brown Villas, the territory’s largest housing community, is being demolished to make way for a new mixed-income neighborhood.
The V.I. Housing Authority recently began the demolition of 436 units at the housing community just off the Melvin Evans Highway. Since Hurricane Hugo in 1989, many of the mustard-colored units in the community have been nothing more than empty shells.
The four-phase construction project will cost between $40 million and $50 million, said Housing Authority Director Conrad Francois, and take about four years. The demolition, being done by St. Croix’s Zenon Construction, is expected to take six months.
Once the project is completed, the 80 families currently housed in the 26-year-old development will be living in a mixed-income community of rental townhouse units and single-family units available for first-time homeowners, Francois said.
"We’ll be lowering the density from 436 units to slightly under 300," he said. "We want to replace Luis Brown Villas the way it currently exists with a mixed-income development that includes commercial activity."
The addition of stores and services within the community is an effort to develop a viable neighborhood rather than a place to house low-income people.
"We basically want to get away from building developments that warehouse the working poor and instead develop neighborhoods," Francois said.
The Housing Authority will solicit bids early next year for a firm to develop the project, Francois said. Funding for the demolition is coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Hope VI program to eradicate severely distressed public housing.
The remainder is being supplied by V.I. Housing Finance Authority bonds and low-income tax credits, Francois said.

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