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From the AP:
June 29, 2005, 7:02 PM EDT
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which operates Foxwoods Resort Casino, said Wednesday that it plans to build a 600-acre resort and casino in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the latest move by an Indian tribe to expand operations off tribal land.
The tribe said its plans include a 400-room hotel, a marina, casino, 160 residential lots, condominiums, two golf courses, retail shops, a convention center and botanical gardens.
Foxwoods, which is built on tribal land in Connecticut, is one of the largest casinos in the world. Other tribes, including the Mohegans, have diversified. The Mohegans, operators of Mohegan Sun, recently purchased the Pocono Downs racetrack in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in anticipation of opening a slots facility.
The Mashantucket Pequots said they are working with William and Punch Partners, a development group that owns waterfront property on St. Croix, where casino gambling is legal.
Tribal spokesman Bruce McDonald said no additional information will be available Wednesday.
According to a news release issued by a lending company last year, the developers are planning to build "The Mills of St. Croix," on the site of one of the island's old sugar mills. It did not mention the tribe's involvement.
James A.D. Francis, chief of staff to Virgin Islands Senate President Lorraine L. Berry, said Wednesday that the casino plan was in development and believes the tribe's involvement will be viewed favorably by local officials.
"That would be good news for St. Croix because it would mean William and Punch had a financial backer to really assist them," Francis said.
At a Senate hearing last year, residents said they wanted the resort project but were concerned about environmental effects and that the developers may not obtain financing for the deal, The St. Croix Source newspaper reported.
"St. Croix is a market that has exciting possibilities, and any development, like our other enterprises, should respect the natural beauty of its surroundings," Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Michael J. Thomas said in a statement.
The nearly 600-acre site was purchased for $3.75 million, according to last year's news release by Kennedy Funding, a lending group, which said it had arranged a loan of $3.9 million.
Francis said casino developers must seek approval from the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission. Legislators generally support casino gambling to increase tourism, he said.
ST. THOMAS - With last month's transfer of the final 200 acres of Water Island to the Virgin Islands government, Sen. Celestino White Sr. says it is time for more people to live there.
A bill White proposed to transfer 60 of those 200 acres to the V.I. Housing Finance Authority for construction of affordable housing sailed through the Housing, Sports and Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday morning. Every senator at the committee hearing voiced enthusiastic support for the proposal and voted to send it to the Rules Committee for further consideration.
Dear St. John Property Owners:
The community is rallying to have the Group Dwelling Permit for the construction of 44 condominiums and a community center DENIED. If you are against this type of development in a residential area, please sign the attached petition and fax back to me at (340) 693-9812.
Dear St. John Property Owners:
Below you will find a brief summary (Tradewinds Newspaper) of the Public Hearing concerning the proposed 44-unit condominium project on Parcel K Estate Gift & Regenback.
Developers aired their request for a group dwelling permit to construct a 10-building, 44 unit condominium project on 5.6 acres on the hillside above Rendezvous Bay in lieu of 14 house lots already allowed on the site to lessen impacts to the fragile ecosystems, the project architect told a public hearing on the proposed development.
No one testified in favor of Atlantic Northstar's, LLC's request for a group dwelling permit at the Department of Planning and Natural Resource (DPNR) Division of Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning Public Hearing on Thursday, June 9, at the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay.
The permit concerns Parcel K, a 5.67 acre parcel in Estate Gift and Regenback, and would allow construction of 44 dwelling units in 10 separate structures on the steep hillside above Rendezvous Bay.
Atlantic Northstar, LLC owns 22 acres of land from Upper Point Rendezvous up to Parcel K located in Estate Gift and Regenback and already has permit approval to build 38 units on the land. ** 24 (1/2 acre parcels located in Estate Rendezvous & Ditleff (above Point Rendezvous) and 14 (1/3 acre parcels on Parcel K Estate Gift and Regenback (adjoining parcels).
Of those 38 parcels approved for development, 14 (1/3 acre parcels) are located on the 5.67 acre Parcel K, which is zoned R-2 (Residential - low density one and two family). "Fourteen house lots have already been approved; the application we are asking for today is an exchange for what we've already been permitted," said the architect.
Upon permit approval, Eagle's Roost, the 44-unit, full ownership condominium project will consist of 11 two-bedroom units, 22 three-bedroom units and 11 four-bedroom units; a community center; a pool, and deck (a total of 132 bedrooms on this 5.67 acre site). The project will also have underground utility with a back-up generator, "fast" sewage systems with built-in irrigation system, two parking spaces for every unit and eight spaces for the community center.
The Developer's previous contractor who started the road construction "was not as studious as hoped" and cut the road in the Rendezvous/Ditleff area in the wrong location. "The road has been cut and certain endangered species had been destroyed," explained the architect, William M. Karr. The owners have since hired BioImpact to help mitigate the endangered plants and become more environmentally sensitive.
The article in the Tradewinds Newspaper further reported on the testifiers specific concerns of the extreme density, roads, traffic, run-off, endangered plants and inconsistency with the surrounding neighborhood uses.
Charles McCallion, partner of Atlantic Northstar, LLC offered closing remarks. "We are not here to damage your island; we are not here to create problems - we are here as businessmen to develop what we have acquired legally."
As Attorney Brion Morrisette said at the hearing - "This will not benefit the community of St. John - it will only serve to maximize the off island developer's profits."
Friday June 10, 7:06 am ET
ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands, June 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Building on its overwhelming popularity, the nearly sold-out Ritz-Carlton Club, St. Thomas, announces today the start of sales for 24 new fractional ownership Club Suites. Sold in the same 21-day interests as the resort's current residences, first occupancy for the Club Suites is slated for this December.
Construction is scheduled to commence next week for the new oceanfront suites. They will reside in two existing buildings previously part of the adjacent Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. Consisting of two-bedroom floor plans averaging 1,500 square feet, the 24 Club Suites will reflect Mediterranean décor boasting a casually elegant dining area; kitchenette with granite countertops, under-the-counter refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave; richly- appointed master bedrooms with down comforters and pillows and walk-in closets; Turkish marble in the bathrooms with cast iron tubs; full-size washer and dryer; and picturesque views of Great Bay from the balconies. Additionally, an exclusive Member-only clubhouse will provide light meals throughout the day.
"The tremendous response to The Ritz-Carlton Club, St. Thomas has been exciting to witness," said William Coker, director of sales and marketing. "We already have some early interest in the Club Suites from our current Members and their friends and family, so brisk sales are likely to continue."
In the tradition of Ritz-Carlton service excellence, The Club provides Members pre-arrival provisioning of their residence, dining at a variety of on-property restaurants and the privileged use of the services and amenities available at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas.
Located on the eastern tip of St. Thomas on a half-mile stretch of beach, the private Club provides a luxurious vacation home in paradise -- without the maintenance and responsibilities associated with home ownership. It features deeded, fractional ownership allowing Members and their guests to use a one- twelfth interest for 21 days annually. Members also have the opportunity to utilize supplemental time as space allows, and reciprocal use privileges with other Ritz-Carlton Club locations. Membership prices for the new Club Suites start at $132,000 per interest.
An extension of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., The Ritz-Carlton Club is a luxury tier, fractional ownership real estate offering combining the benefits of second home ownership with personalized Ritz-Carlton services and amenities. For information, please call 877.667.4300, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.ritzcarltonclub.com.
Just who owns the big hotels, etc? Here is the answer to one of those questions:
"In addition to the Eden Roc, which Blackacre bought in 1998, Blackacre's holdings include venture interests in the 1,004-room Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel and the 481-room Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Beach Resort in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands."
From an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune.
From the Daily News:
ST. CROIX - Gov. Charles Turnbull on Saturday approved bills to establish a summer education program and increase participation in a home ownership program but vetoed a series of zoning changes for one St. Croix neighborhood.
That veto came on zoning changes proposed for Estate Strawberry Hill, which would have shifted from low-density residential to a scattered business area. Various businesses had planned to set up shop in the area, including a laundry, a day-care center, a real estate office and a doctor's office.
Turnbull shot down the measure for what he said was a concern about storm-water runoff.