March 9, 2004 – The Coral Bay area will continue its phenomenal rate of development when work begins soon on 29 upscale homes at Dreekets Bay Estates on St. John's East End.
Developer David Prevo told the nearly 70 members of the Coral Bay Community Council gathered at the John's Folly Learning Institute on Monday that the 29 one-acre lots will go for anywhere from $450,000 to more than $1 million. Those on the waterfront will be the highest priced.
The lots are on a total of 40 acres of land, which Prevo said would allow for common areas. He said he also owns land at nearby Haulover Bay which could be added to the project.
Development covenants will allow owners to build on no more than 25 percent of the lots, Prevo said, so while he expects the homes to equal the size of those going up at Peter Bay on the North Shore, they will not be nearly so close together. "You could have a 10,000-square-foot home," he said, adding that he expects a mix of full-time residents and vacation villa properties.
The development will not be gated, he said.
Prevo said he bought the development in 1998 from Wilmark Corp., which had begun developing the area in 1992. Three homes had been built at that point, and the roads were roughed in but "badly eroded," he said.
He redesigned the project and received Coastal Zone Management approval in March 2003. He said he has rebuilt the roads to keep sediment from flowing into the sea and has added retaining walls. The development will have underground utilities. Cable television has yet to reach St. John's East End, but he's hopeful that it soon will be available.
Coral Bay Community Council members grilled Prevo on his credentials as a developer. He said he was in the grocery business but dabbled in residential development in Traverse City, Mich. With a distaste for shoveling snow, he said, he decided to spend more time on St. John, where he and his wife own a house.
Council members also wanted to know what he has done for St. John since undertaking the development. He said he is fairly new to the island and doesn't have a lot of income at present since he's investing in the project. "I have attended several fund-raisers," he said.
He said he hired 30 stonemasons for the retaining wall work, with about half of them commuting daily from St. Thomas.
The condition of the East End Road was a concern for some council members. The road is already in bad shape, but Norm Gledhill told Prevo that the trucks connected with his project are making it worse. Prevo said he volunteered to fill potholes with materials left over from the project, but Public Works Department officials told him they would do temporary repairs.
Area's population skyrocketed in the '90s
Coral Bay development in the 20th century also was on the agenda for Monday's council meeting as Crystal Fortwangler, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, talked about the area's growth since the Danes sold the territory to the United States in 1917.
In 1917, she said, 338 people lived in the Coral Bay area, which does not include the East End by V.I. Census standards. In 1990, the figure was 363. A decade later, in 2000, the population had risen to 649.
Fortwangler passed around aerial maps showing hillsides above Coral Harbor with only a few houses in 1978 and hillsides dotted with homes recently. She said she did an informal survey that found 45 commercial vehicles headed for Coral Bay construction projects in just three hours.
Sharon Coldren, Coral Bay Community Council president, said the group will begin preparing a "vision paper" for Coral Bay addressing not just land use, but also "jobs and services."
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