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HomeNewsArchivesV.I. Company Picked to Develop Water Island Hotel

V.I. Company Picked to Develop Water Island Hotel

The Water Island Development Company has been chosen to develop a resort and hotel project on Water Island, replacing the property that has been abandoned since Hurricane Hugo destroyed it in 1989.

The selection, announced Tuesday in a Government House news release, is the culmination of a project that began in September with the advertising of an "Expression of Interest" by the government.

“A key project has been to again have a superior resort on Water Island that would complement other hotel offerings, while at the same time realize some meaningful economic activity on the island," said Gov. John deJongh Jr. in announcing the choice. "All of this, of course, must be achieved in a manner that maintains what is charming, environmentally appealing and respectful of what the island and community reflect."

In September, the Department of Property and Procurement advertised to gauge the level of interest for the development of a resort on Water Island and subsequently enter into a long-term lease agreement with the Government of the Virgin Islands. More than 10 firms participated in the proposal process and eight named hotel brands expressed interest in the property.

The Water Island Development Company was chosen based on the collective experience of its team members who, individually, have financed and developed multiple ventures including resorts. Stephen Evans-Freke, a principal in St. Thomas-based Auven Therapeutics, is the managing member. Other development team members include Bob Jackson, a developer of multifamily projects; Peter Briggs, co-owner of John Foster Real Estate; Timothy Barber, Water Island property owner and founder of Keynetics; and Michael Graves of Michael Graves Foundation, along with other hotel development consultants and architects.

“Our undertaking this project is consistent with our commitment to economic development initiatives, but also with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s requirement when we assumed direct control in 1996 that we promote the economic development of Water Island for the benefit of the entire Virgin Islands and the Water Island residents. We have been clear with each respondent on this objective and that community engagement is paramount,” said Commissioner of Property and Procurement Lynn Millin Maduro.

The redevelopment of a hotel property on Water Island will have a significant impact on the government’s economic recovery efforts, the announcement said.

“Water Island boasts one more Virgin Islands opportunity to rebrand the Virgin Islands in one of the world’s most beautiful natural environments, with nearby airport and water transportations, an attractive beach and marina capabilities. It is a valuable economic asset which will now be strengthened for the economic benefit of our entire territory,” Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty said.

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