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VIPA Board Addresses Delays at Crown Bay Center

Oct. 18, 2006 — During a V.I. Port Authority board meeting Wednesday, Crown Bay Commercial Center property manager Diana Richardson said she anticipates many of the center's shops would be operational by mid-November — ahead of VIPA's grand opening target date of Dec. 21. Still, board members expressed concerns about delays and the failure of some prospective tenants to sign leases.
During the meeting, board members questioned why the opening of the center, which was originally slated for late October or early November, has been delayed. Board member Leslie Milliner also asked why "some of the tenants seem hesitant to move in."
Richardson said that several prospective tenants (businesses from the territory and abroad) "weren't really sure that ships were coming to the center"– despite the fact that VIPA recently signed a 10-year agreement with Princess Cruise Lines.
"But since I've showed them the ship schedule, I've seen a change in the attitude," Richardson added. To assure board members that the center is on track, Richardson said VIPA has given tenants until Oct. 27 to sign their lease. "They also have to provide a date which indicates when they plan to be open," she said.
VIPA Executive Director Darlan Brin added that the port is trying to "move as fast as we can."
"I think people are forgetting that ships have been coming to Crown Bay for the past 20 years," he said. "We had ships in all last season, while the center was still under construction. The problem is that people know that the ships will be coming during peak season, but they don't know that the ships will be coming all year round, so they're wondering what they're going to do when the summer comes."
However, Brin assured the board that the project — which includes dredging on the north side of the pier — is moving along. He explained that the dredging equipment, which was recently sent to St. Croix for the Ann E. Abramson Pier project, will be back on island by "next week."
"We've already issued a contract and a notice to proceed," he said.
Brin added that VIPA is exploring the possibility of adding a mooring dolphin to the third berth at the Crown Bay dock, which would allow three ships to pull into the dock instead of two. "It could pose a problem to yachts and cargo vessels coming in and out of the marina, or berthing," he said, adding that VIPA intends to run a simulation exercise to determine whether or not the project is feasible.
Board members also approved eight leases on Wednesday for space at the commercial center. The leases are between the Port Authority and:
–CLK Liquor Inc., a liquor and wine retail store currently operating in New York;
–Jewel Gem USA- Genoa Jewelers, a retail jewelry store for diamonds, colored gemstones and watches;
–Love and Joy in the USVI, a calling station offering money transfer services (this company currently has a station at Mandela Circle on St. Thomas);
–Steppin' Shoe Boutique, a "high-end" shoe store;
–Angel Nails, a manicure, pedicure and waxing salon (this company currently runs a salon at the Tutu Park Mall on St. Thomas);
–Hennie's Hand Craft Gallery, a retail store for local and imported wooden crafts;
–Calabash Technologies, for an internet caf

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