Sept. 21, 2004 "Ka-Boom," said the Jolly Green Giant on Monday, as the aptly named demolition machine brought down the last scrap of what used to be the Yacht Haven Hotel.
The first bite was taken out of the structure by a small backhoe in the IN-USVI groundbreaking ceremony March 13.
John Stadler, project construction director, said he was thrilled to see the last iota of the old pink building turn to dust. "We are very excited," he said Tuesday morning, "it's a milestone."
"To be at the point we are now is very exciting. We are very close to schedule," Stadler said. "We've made a lot of good progress it's a big deal for us."
In June when demolition work was going strong, Stadler had said the work would be completed in late August or early September. It hasn't been a breeze. The builders have had two hurricane threats and last week's rains to deal with. (See "Amid the Ruins, Yacht Haven USVI is Emerging").
The work has been steady, carefully monitored for asbestos removal, which cannot be rushed. All asbestos abatement work is carried out in controlled, contained environments. A dozen or so trailers during the demolition sat on the site or across the street. Contaminated material was placed in what are called "bladder bags," to be shipped in the sealed containers to landfills on the mainland that are authorized to dispose of asbestos. An independent materials testing laboratory did daily air monitoring, checking compliance procedures set by environmental oversight agencies, Stadler said.
Now, all that remains are stacks of concrete rubble, looking for all the world like giant cement haystacks. Those haystacks are next on the agenda. The 12,000 to 15,000 cubic yards of material creating the stacks will be sorted, crushed and recycled for use in the new construction. A crushing machine will be brought in to turn the cement into recyclable material which will be used for road base underneath the paving, Stadler said.
Around the first of November, he said, work on the project's infrastructure will begin grading the site and installing electrical, sewer and water lines. Stadler was reluctant to name definite dates for the future construction. "We're moving very quickly, but there are still a couple of things the sequencing of the buildings could change," he said. The work will start toward the East end of the project.
Stadler said the old Bridge Bar and marina site of many an island party will come down in the next 30 days. The marina is an integral part of the project. Speaking at the March opening, Andrew L. Farkas, chief executive officer of Island Capital Group, which is now the parent company of IN-USVI, said, the marina will be the "single, largest megayacht basin in the world … a marquee for the Virgin Islands." He said while the old marina 11 years ago brought in $100 million in economic activity to the territory, "the new one will bring $300 million. There are 500 boats of more than 80 feet being built each year. That exceeds the total number of boats that size in 1992."
The project should be completed between spring and summer of 2006, Stadler said. However, the marina is expected to open in the 2005 tourist season, along with some buildings on the upland development.
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