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Sunday, December 3, 2023


The redevelopment of downtown Christiansted took another step forward Tuesday with the unveiling of a small parking lot.
The lot on 19 King Street, which for some three decades had been little more than a collection point for garbage and weeds, was donated to the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development by the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation, said Roger Dewey, executive director of the St. Croix Foundation.
The 20-space lot is just a few hundred feet from the historic but dilapidated Sunday Market Square, also called Times Square, the St. Croix Foundation’s main target for redevelopment. Dewey said he hoped the presence of a new parking lot would spur more activity in the area.
"We’re reaching out to stimulate economic activity in this part of town," he said, adding that the lot will be available to businesses or individuals on a rental basis. "It adds one more positive little thing in downtown Christiansted."
In July, the St. Croix Foundation was approved for a $50,000 federal grant to renovate the old Chase Manhattan Bank and police building on Sunday Market Square. The money will allow the foundation to build a new roof so the building can be used as low-cost office space to promote private-sector investment in the area.
The parking lot and the renovation to the old Chase building are just a couple of the projects the St. Croix Foundation has slated for Sunday Market Square, long an eyesore at the gateway of Christiansted’s historic district.
Over the last two years, the St. Croix Foundation has purchased seven buildings in the area and is rebuilding a structure on the corner of King and Market Streets using Community Development Block Grant and Housing Finance Authority funds. Over the next year, Dewey said the square itself will be revamped with paving blocks, trees, and historic lighting. Above-ground utility wires will be buried.
"Our work takes an awful long time to come to fruition, but you’re starting to see it," he said.
In tandem with the Benjamin Foundation's donation of the property for the new lot, the V.I. Energy Office gave $15,000 for a solar lighting system for the project; V.I. Paving paved the lot at no cost and the St. Croix Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission provided landscaping.
John Green, director of the Anti-Litter Commission, said his organization would like to help building owners in the area acquire supplies to spruce up their buildings.
"We’d like to see if we could develop a program where individuals could access paint to get their buildings painted . . . to make the town look a little better," Green said.

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