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Interesting Grande Bay news:
Contracted condominium buyers seeking court protection against being forced to close on their units at St. John's Grande Bay Resort began building their case on Monday before a V.I. Superior Court judge.
Two condominium buyers and a neighboring property owner testified during an eight-hour preliminary injunction hearing before Judge James Carroll III.
The buyers of 30 units argue in their lawsuit that at least a portion of the development's four buildings are environmentally and structurally substandard. They also contend that developer Bay Isles Associates LLLP has not delivered on promised resort amenities.
Rising from a 1.03-acre Cruz Bay beachfront site, the Grande Bay Resort includes 48 condominium units ranging in price from $350,000 to about $1 million.
The rest of the story is here.
Frank Barnako is reporting:
Published reports quote government officials saying villa owners - and everybody else with a stake in real estate in the territory - can expect some new numbers within a week or so. They may mean lower tax bills. Or not. It's said that Bearing Point, which conducted a review of all properties on the three islands, has been dealing with hundreds of complaints and appeals, a reported 660 on St. John alone. Bearing Point has reviewed some of its work, and some of the properties, and is going to issue re-revaluations within a week or two.
More about real estate values and residents reactions here from the VI Daily News.
Recently for rent, from the St. John Tradewinds:
Brand new Two Bedroom Apt., Estate Bethany, above Westin, A/C. Also, efficiency overlooking Enighed Pond. 340-690-1104.
Pastory Condos: 2 Bd, 1.5 Ba, sunset views, pool, part. furn. $1900 + utilities. RE 693-3399
Coral Bay-2+BR 1BA House on fenced flat yard available 2/1. $1,450 693-3399 RE
Scenic Properties 693-7777
• Fish Bay, 1.5 Bd/1 Ba,
large living area, W/D, $1800/mo.
$1800/mo.Oceanfront private location home for monthly long term lease right on the water. Beautiful convenient location on Chocolate Hole. Swim and snorkel or lay in the hammock right outside your living room. Available May or possibly sooner. Must make appointment for inspection. 2 Bedroom/Furnished. $5000/month plus utilities. Call John or Vicky 540-435-6659
or 540-435-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Furnished House for Rent
March 1 - Great view overlooking Cruz Bay, 2 BR w/AC, 2 bath, W/D, large deck, breezy. Residential area near Westin, 10 minutes to ferry. No pets. Lease $2400 + utilities. Security deposit & reference required. 690-4532.
Long term apartment.
2BR, 2Bath, 1600sf, Gift Hill, pool, parking and quiet $2400/mo, 1yr lease req’d Call Marv@340 693 9155 cell 315 286 9194
2BD/3BA apt. for rent, Mongoose, $2900/mo., A/C, W/D, parking available. Dec. 1st,
semi-furnished. 774-8175, ext. 28.
House for Rent: 2 bd/2 ba Mt. top house, 30 mile views, paved road, 5 min to Coral Bay, 20 min. Cruz Bay, wrap around covered porches, A/C, W/D, annual lease. $2200/mo.
561-832-3040 or 561-602-9484
Another story from The Source today:
Jan. 30, 2008 -- Funding for the construction of a $32.5 million conference center on St. Croix is now back in the hands of hotel developer Paul Golden, provided that he meets certain conditions laid out Wednesday by the Public Finance Authority board. The stability of Golden's project -- a 400-room resort and casino near St. Croix's Great Pond -- had generated concerns over the past few months for board members, who voted in early July to put the conference center out for bid. At that point, Golden had failed to meet several deadline extensions to obtain the financing needed to break ground on the project, nullifying the authority's previous resolution to build the facility in conjunction with Golden's resort.
We had an earlier story about this project being dead, which appears to have been premature.
A recap from the St. Thomas Source about some projects going on around the Territory:
"A consultant will look at several plans, as well as all forms of surface travel, public transportation and road infrastructure. PB America, which has worked with DPW in the past, is being asked to undertake a so-called multi-modul examination using federal funding, as the territory works to make sense of clogged and inferior roadways. The plans on St. Thomas include: -- the Long Bay Road Project, an expansion project currently underway, extending from Lovers Lane to Mandala Circle south to the entrance of West Indian Corp. and north on Hospital Line to Kmart; -- Plan 8, an expansion and re-routing project on the books for years, intended to re-route traffic around the Legislature by filling in a portion of the bay; -- Veterans Drive safety improvements, roadway expansion and bulkhead repairs along the downtown waterfront; and -- The East-West Corridor, an improvement and expansion project extending from the airport to Red Hook and encompassing all of the above. As he anticipates tackling not just major projects, but undoubtedly major concerns, given the sensitivity of anything that impacts the Charlotte Amalie historic district, Smalls has some credits under his belt. On St. Croix, drainage problems in Williams Delight are being addressed, and Smalls says construction on Midland Road, long neglected, is nearing completion. On St. Thomas, work on a bypass on Leonard Trotman Drive in Tutu is underway, taking travelers behind the mall and to the site of the new public library. Groundbreaking is slated for approximately June 2008. Also, much-needed improvements are underway on the Red Hook Road and work will commence at the Coki Point beach entrance. Work is also planned at the Nadir-Bovoni intersection, as well as the roadway through Lima, and finally at Drake's Seat. In the West End, road work near Fortuna is on the drawing board. St. John will soon see some improvements on the Bordeaux Mountain Road. "I truly believe there's light at the end of the tunnel," said Smalls, who gives himself a "C" grade so far. "I always like to improve. It helps me grow."
From the St. John Tradewinds:
"The luxury private residence resort Pond Bay Club, under construction in Chocolate Hole, is riding the latest high-end destination real estate trend, offering a 10 to one membership ratio for each of the 50 planned three-bedroom villas on the 15-acre site.
The popularity of fee simple deeded fractional ownership has caught on in the high-end real estate market, starting in premier destinations like Aspen and Vail and quickly spreading with industry leaders like Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons jumping aboard.
Now the trend is hitting the shores of St. John with the development of the six-star Pond Bay Club, managed by Folio Collection and constructed by First American Development Group/Carib."
I wonder how the sales are going to perform during this current mortgage meltdown in the US.
The St. Thomas Source is reporting today:
Jan. 17, 2008 -- There was a flurry of motions but little movement Thursday in U.S. District Court on St. Croix as Judge Raymond L. Finch heard a laundry list of defense and prosecution motions in the case of James A. Auffenberg Jr. and three other men charged with evading federal taxes by misusing the V.I. Economic Development Commission program.
The U.S. Department of Justice is charging that the four men illegally claimed a 90 percent federal tax break on more than $300 million funneled through the St. Croix-based company Kapok Management, L.P. It alleges that Auffenberg, a prominent car dealer in Swansea, Ill., illegally avoided more than $74 million in taxes from 1999 to 2002 by joining Kapok as a partner and shipping money to Kapok, run by Peter G. Fagan of De Leon, Texas; James W. Ferguson III of Amarillo, Texas; and J. David Jackson of St. Croix. All four have pleaded innocent.
This is a very interesting case - a guilty conviction here could have a major impact on the territory.
Interesting article about public land in U.S. National Parks - that mentions the
Trust for Public Land and the National Park on St. John:
"Parks get some help from charitable land trusts that can buy land and donate it or give "bridge funding" to willing sellers until the park is in a position to pay.
"We are a conservation emergency room, and with the decline of funding in recent years we've had to do more triage," says Mr. Front of the Trust for Public Land.
The group stalled a major development at the Virgin Islands National Park by putting up $30 million. The Trust also helped the park secure 56 acres on Cape Cod, Mass., including the only public camping area."
Stanley Selengut, founder and owner ground-breaking eco-friendly beach resorts on St. John (Maho Bay Campground and Estate Concordia Resort), will receive the 2008 Pioneer Award of the International Society of hospitality Consultants for his industry-leading “green” tourism operations.
Selengut will receive the award, among the most prestigious in the hospitality industry, at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles, where he will also be the guest of honor at a DOT reception at the Beverly Hills Hotel on January 30. Print and broadcast journalists from leading travel and lifestyle publications, TV stations, and Web sites will be attending the reception.
Selengut launched a Trash to Treasure recycling program at Maho Bay and partnered with the U.S. National Parks Service to develop models and designs for future ecotourism resorts. His work has transformed the concept of sustainability, using waste and recycled products from the resorts to develop saleable arts and crafts. His latest project is a 51-acre resort community focusing on self-sufficient cottages and other green building processes. In addition, the resort will address the needs of people with physical disabilities.
Recognizing coordinated efforts to bring lasting change, Selengut shares credit for his achievements with U.S. Virgin Islands government agencies. Asked in a TV interview what it takes to become a pioneer, Selengut replied: “It takes working in a place that will encourage, support and permit new ideas and innovations.” He later added, “I am so lucky to have ended up in the Virgin Islands some 30 years ago.”
Without EDC benefits, he said, he could never have afforded pioneering efforts, adding, “Without support from the Planning Department, Building Department and Department of Health, I could not get permits to explore new ways to build and operate. Without the help of CZM, the energy office and other enviornmental agencies, I could not have been experimental and without the promotion by the Department of Tourism, word would not have gotten around.”
Ten years ago, Selengut said, Maho Bay was filling to capacity, while facing increased costs for removing mountains of trash, namely bottles, cans, worn linens and paper goods. “It’s the price we paid for being on a small, beautiful island,” he says. “Our solution takes traditional recycling to another level by turning most of the trash into usable and saleable products.”
He predicts that in the next few years we will see shortages and price increases for basic resources in the hotel industry. As hotels seek cost-cutting opportunities, they will explore Trash to Treasure Centers such as the one at Maho Bay.
"I purchased a property in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, this summer. I've been in this business for 15 years and as we all do, think I know what I'm doing. Did I appreciate and take advantage of the information and ease of access to that information over the Internet? Yes. Was that access a key to the successful completion of my transaction? Yes. Would I dare risk doing the deal without a local agent, even as capable and knowledgeable as I am? No. Did the agent provide information and service invaluable to the deal? Absolutely."
From the Islandia blog:
"A comparison of the St. John residential home sales for the year 2007 with that of 2006 is quite reassuring, particularly if you read the doom and gloom scenario for the mainland resort markets overall.
According to the St. John Multiple Listing Service Data, the total number of active listings increased only 5% from 207 to 218, with new listings down 20% from 120 to 96."
There are more statistics in the post - it will be interesting to see how soft the market on St. John gets if the mainland market continues to deteriorate.