Virgin Islands Port Authority voted on Wednesday to negotiate with Off-Shore Marine Services, Inc. to lease two Port Authority properties in Crown Bay to develop a marine center and revamp the dilapidated land.
VIPA, which just regained the land back after a 20-year lease with Miami Cars that was terminated on Aug. 7 of last year, wants to turn the hurricane-damaged property into a marine center bustling with marine retail and service operations.
The properties are over 37,000 square feet and feature a primary building that has an existing laundry, dive shop, canvas shop and boat ramp adjacent to the property, which will all be reworked into the newly constructed marine center.
“Off-Shore Marine has agreed to keeping the four existing tenants as they build out the new structure and develop the area,” VIPA property manager Deborah Washington said.
The Authority’s action document, which was provided at the meeting, says Off-Shore Marine will “revitalize the area to an attractive waterfront destination showcasing the marine industry, along with other complementary business to include a waterfront restaurant and bar.”
The marine center is set to include:
– A yacht tender
– Sport boat and dinghy sales and service
– Outboard and inboard marine engine sales, installation and services
– General marine and repair facility
– A dive shop that would offer equipment sales, services and training
– Sport fishing supplies
– Canvas and awning fabrication and service; a laundry facility; restaurant and bar operations; and a local brewery
The company plans to invest more than $5 million dollars into the area.
The goal of Off-Shore Marine was highlighted by the Authority, which said the main goal is to reattract the lucrative charter and yacht industry back to St. Thomas, putting it in competition with places like Nanny Cay in the British Virgin Islands.
“The plan is for that property to become a thriving asset for the Virgin Islands economic community, as well as create new jobs and opportunities for Virgin Islanders,” the action document says.
Discussions began late last year after the Authority issued a request for proposal, prompting a pre-bid meeting on Jan. 14. By Feb. 12 the Authority had received two proposals, one from Off-Shore Marine and another from Jackson Development Company. On Feb. 22 the Authority discussed both proposals and determined that Jackson Development Company’s proposal was not a good fit for the area.
The Jackson Development Company proposed a hotel, but the committee decided the location was not suitable.
“The surrounding areas to this property are an industrialized community, home to our container port that operates, on some days, 24 hours. The port attracts a number of diesel trucks and heavy equipment which has the potential to be a nuisance to a hotel of this quality. On the other hand, Off-Shore Marine’s goal to create a marine facility is more in line with the Authority’s vision of this area,” reads the action report.
Executive Director Carlton Dowe said a marine center in the area “will be very beneficial to the port” and “it would play extremely well into our future development.”
The Authority voted and approved the Off-Shore Marine proposal on Wednesday and will enter into negotiations of the lease agreement.