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HomeNewsArchivesCrown Bay Development Set to Open Late Fall 2005

Crown Bay Development Set to Open Late Fall 2005

July 20, 2005– The V. I. Port Authority's crowning glory — the Crown Bay dock and seaside commercial development — is expected to be in business before the start of the 2006 winter season. It has been a long time coming.
The development has a checkered and colorful political history, spanning two decades and many administrations. It has changed from public development to private development, and back again to the public realm.
In 2001 VIPA had signed a letter of intent with Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises for the two companies to invest $31 million for expansion of the Crown Bay dock and development of the adjacent shopping area, when Gov. Charles W. Turnbull told VIPA to call off the deal.
American Bridge Co., the Orlando, Fla., contractor for the project, began work in January 2003. Groundbreaking for the development was in June 2003. Officials estimated then that both the dock expansion and the shopping development would be completed by June of 2004. However, the project has met many construction problems forcing one delay after another. (See "Crown Bay Village a Bit Late, but Clearly on the Rise".)
VIPA Executive Director Darlan Brin said at a Wednesday board meeting that the project is about 94 percent complete. Brin has been on board for the project since its inception.
The dock expansion work has been completed. The north side pier was extended from 200 lineal feet to 960 lineal feet of berthing space, and the south side was extended from 500 to 960 lineal feet. Upon completion, the dock will be able to accommodate some of the largest cruise vessels.
In addition, Brin pointed out Wednesday that a separate 200-lineal-foot tour vessel pier will be available for tour boats such as the Kon Tiki. The new pier will be able to accommodate up to four ships at a time — two on each side — double its previous capacity.
The development's colorful pastel-hued buildings, capped with the traditional red roofs, surround the project's center piece: a replica of a West Indian sugar mill, constructed of local rock and complete with the windmill blades. The total effect — which will greet cruise ship passengers from the sea and local traffic from the street — is that of a West Indian village.
The development will total about 57,000 square feet, of which some 3,500 square feet will be a combined visitor center and environmental/historical interpretive resources center, to be operated by the Tourism and Planning and Natural Resources departments. Board member Pamela Richards, Tourism commissioner, made sure of securing that space Wednesday. She noted, "I have said I wanted that space for two years now, and I still want it."
There appears to be no problem with renting the retail spaces. Tenants – actual and potential – are tumbling out of the woodwork, according to a rundown given Wednesday by Jocelyn Williams, VIPA assistant project manger. Retail space will occupy about 65 percent of the of all the development's space.
Board members voted on each prospective tenant as Williams read from a long list, building by building.
Building A," also known as "the arcade," is what cruise ship passenger will see first as they come ashore. It is enormous — roughly 11,000 square feet. Occupying that building will be a variety of retail outlets, including Cardow Jewelers, Scandinavian Silver Center, Diamonds International and Majesty Jewelers.
Building B is the only two-story building. It will house First Bank with a drive-thru on the first floor. The second floor will be occupied by a travel agency, a copy center, Moore's Dental Care, Financial Services and St. John's Westin Resort and Villas for passengers arriving at the airport and awaiting ferry transportation to St. John.
Building C, along with the Tourism center, will accommodate another Diamonds International, A. H. Riise, and Royal Caribbean Jewelers.
Building E will house local shops, including Island Divers, Drunken Sailor and D & G Originals.
Building F will house Natural Homes and JBF Inc.
Building G is a long arcade building at the east end of the property. It will hold stalls and kiosks for local arts and crafts vendors.
The above listing is not complete, as Williams said she could not supply an extensive listing this Wednesday.
Building H, also at the east end of the property, will be leased to different restaurants. Brin said he wanted a "variety of eateries."
He said he had been approached by a restaurateur who wanted to lease the entire building. "I told him no," Brin said. "We want to provide different choices for people. What if we leased it to one restaurant and it failed?
Another consideration in the meeting regarding the retail properties, is whether they will remain open in the evening. An amphitheater will occupy the east end of the property, and is scheduled to have evening entertainment.
Brin said a pizza place has applied for space, as well as a Spanish food restaurant, a Latin restaurant, the V.I. Cookie Co., Gourmet Gallery and an Indian restaurant.
Board members quizzed Brin on the suitability of the tenants. "We have gone over the applications for all the tenants very carefully," Brin said, adding, "we invited them back a second time."
However, when it came to perhaps the most important tenant of all, Brin wouldn't reveal a thing. "The sugar mill should be occupied by someone …. well, something significant locally," he said. However, he declined to elaborate.
Alton Adams Jr., VIPA project construction manager, had said last year the sugar mill would house a "gourmet coffee shop." Brin smiled and then said, "Mr. Adams is in charge of construction, not leasing."
In other matters, VIPA Board Chairman Robert O 'Connor was unanimously re-elected to the board, His service was interrupted when his term had expired. Acting Attorney General Kerry E. Drue , appointed by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull after the sudden death last week of then Attorney General Alva Swan, attended her first board meeting in her new capacity. The attorney general occupies a seat on the VIPA board.
Board members Drue; Leslie Millener; O 'Connor; George Phillips, acting Public Works commissioner; Dean Plaskett, Planning and Natural Resources commissioner; Richards; and James Rodgers attending the meeting. Hector Peguero was absent.
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