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VIPA Board Speeding Progress at Crown Bay Facility

Aug. 23, 2006 — In an effort to push the new Crown Bay Commercial Center toward completion, V.I. Port Authority board members are moving aggressively to fill the facility's available commercial space. During a board meeting Wednesday, several applications to fill available commercial spaces within the center were approved, along with an amended contract to V.I. Cement and Paving Co. to begin dredging on the north side of the Crown Bay dock.
According to VIPA Executive Director Darlan Brin, the center is anticipated to open in early October or November, when the new Freedom-class cruise ships begin calls to St. Thomas. Brin has said the northern side of the dock has to be dredged to accommodate the larger ships from other cruise lines, such as the Queen Mary, a premiere vessel on the Cunard Line (See "10-Year Agreement Reached between Port Authority, Princess Cruise Line").
The amended contract, approved during Wednesday's meeting, allows V.I. Cement and Paving to begin the dredging as soon as it has completed similar work around the Ann E. Abramson Pier on St. Croix. Brin said he anticipates the dredging — which will increase the depth of the area around the Crown Bay dock from 32 feet to 38 feet — will begin in September and be completed by November.
The dredging is expected to cost $1.35 million.
Board members also approved several applications submitted by a wide variety of businesses seeking to fill the facility's available commercial space. While Diana Richardson, property manager for the commercial center, said the facility is currently at 95 percent occupancy, she explained after the meeting that there are still a few slots left to fill.
The center consists of seven buildings, which are comprised of fixed space and kiosks. During the meeting, Brin said VIPA's selection committee — tasked with evaluating the Crown Bay applications — have been looking for the "right blend" of businesses to fill the space, giving both visitors and locals a chance to eat, shop and find entertainment, all within one facility.
Brin explained that VIPA has also been looking for a "creative" applicant to occupy space within the center's Sugar Mill. "We want the Sugar Mill to be exciting, a real place for people to go," he said.
During the meeting, Brin said that Calabash Technologies, out of St. Croix, had applied for a space within the mill to run an Internet café. However, he recommended that board members hold off on approving the application until the company has confirmed whether or not it is still interested in setting up the business.
However, Brin said he had no qualms about acting on the other 11 applications up for consideration during Wednesday's meeting. Thus, acting on Brin's recommendations, the board unanimously approved applications for:
Building A
Bowsky Car Rental
A Post Office
Music Shoppe

Building B
Parsons Brinkerhoff Engineering Office
Economic Development Authority

Building C
Omni International
The Men's Shoppe

Building E
A bookstore

Building F
Zack's Gourmet Foods

Building G
A coffeeshop

Kiosks in Building G
Charleswell Souvenir T-shirts, mugs and caps

While Brin said there are still about eight vacant spaces left to fill, he explained that the selection committee has been inundated with applications from businesses and individuals looking to occupy a spot at the center. "We have more applications than we have spaces to fill," he said. "So we've been turning down some applications in hopes of achieving the mix that we wanted."
In an effort to rehabilitate the area around the facility, Brin also said the authority had sent out requests for proposals/qualifications (RPP/Q) earlier this year for companies interested in leasing for development two parcels of land near the center, which used to house Caribbean Steel and Kline Electrical.
During Wednesday's meeting, Brin recommended that a proposal submitted by Charaf & Company be selected for the project. Board members granted Brin's request and authorized him to begin negotiations with the company.
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