May 7, 2005 Beautiful and breezy were the most often heard words as Virgin Islands residents Saturday toured the units at Bellevue Village affordable housing complex on Gifft Hill Road, St. John.
"They're spacious and up here, it's real airy," St. John resident Vashti Boynes said as she toured around.
Several St. John residents in the construction field looked at the units with a practiced eye.
"There's lots of plastic. That's maintenance free. And these are nice PGT windows," St. John-based construction supervisor Michael Machonis said, referring to a window brand.
The trim and railings are made of plastic that looks like wood. Many builders use this material because it holds up well in tropical conditions.
The units are airy, with cream walls, beige tile, balconies or patios, and well-appointed kitchens. Many have views toward St. Thomas.
One person in the construction field, who did not want to be identified, said the units were equal to $500,000 houses.
Reliance Housing Foundation is in charge of the project. The company's president, Robert O. Jackson, said the first residents will be moving into their new homes in three to four weeks. He said Reliance was waiting for the certificate of occupancy to be issued.
Jackson explained that100 names of people who had applied were drawn in a lottery. Of that number, 56 filled out more extensive applications, and a total of 38 were chosen. Jackson said those who were turned down had incomes that exceeded the guidelines.
Jackson said that 35 of the 38 people hailed from St. John, with the other three now living on St. Thomas.
One of the successful residents, Carollette Matthew, said she looked forward to moving into her three-bedroom apartment.
"It's more space," she said.
However, Shastri Hendricks, who lives at the Reliance-built Lovenlund Apartments on St. Thomas, said she thought these units were smaller than where she lived.
"But the living room is bigger," she said.
Several people said they hoped the new residents would take care of the property.
"And the entire surroundings," Harry Daniel said.
Putting to rest complaints and rumors that the complex would cater to recently-arrived residents, Jackson said that the successful applicants had to live in the Virgin Islands by April 2004.
"These units are not for snowbirds," Sen. Celestino White added.
Early on in the project's development, White had complained that the units would go to people who were not long-term residents.
White said he was looking forward to seeing Reliance get its next project under way at Calabash Boom.
The mood was festive as residents mixed, mingled and enjoyed a buffet supper of chicken, fish, pork and all the trimmings.
When the complex is finished it will have a total of 72 units in 36 buildings.
Rents range from $524 for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit to $722 for a four-bedroom, two-bath unit.
Maximum incomes are $22,860 for one person up to $43,080 for a family of eight people.
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