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Commercial Real Estate News

Latest Entries in Commercial Real Estate News:
  • CZM Permit Approved for Long-Awaited Robin Bay Resort
  • Cruzan Breaks Ground on New Treatment Plant
  • Diageo Construction Is on Schedule
  • CZM Commission Denies Requested Change for Williams & Punch Resort
  • Diageo Lays Out Green Plan at CZM Hearing

July 27, 2010

CZM Permit Approved for Long-Awaited Robin Bay Resort

From The St. Thomas Source:

"Despite a whole morning of power failures, senators hit the ground running early Monday afternoon, passing through full session three major coastal zone permits -- one of which will allow for construction to start on the long-awaited Robin Bay Realty resort and casino on St. Croix."

April 16, 2010

Cruzan Breaks Ground on New Treatment Plant

Good news for St. Croix:

On a stark, muddy field, 10 gold-painted shovels dug into the ground and tossed the first clumps of soil Thursday, marking the start of a new era at Cruzan Rum; one that will see the territory become “the No. 1 rum capital in the world,” according to Gov. John deJongh Jr.

Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new Cruzan Rum wastewater treatment system drew more than 100 spectators, including more than half the Senate, Cruzan employees past and present, and executives from the St. Croix distillery’s parent company in Deerfield, Ill.

Archive link for this entry: Cruzan Breaks Ground on New Treatment Plant | |

September 11, 2009

Diageo Construction Is on Schedule

The Source is reporting:

Construction is moving on schedule and this fall St. Croix will see massive concrete slabs poured and walls built at the Diageo Captain Morgan Rum distillery, a company official said Thursday.

Speaking to Rotary of St. Croix at its weekly speaker luncheon, Dan Kirby, Diageo U.S. Virgin Islands vice president of supply, provided new details of the construction schedule while emphasizing the environmentally friendly features of the plant and Diageo's success at hiring mostly local workers to build the plant.

This seems to be a great story for the VI and especially St. Croix. Jobs, tax revenues - has there been any local downside reported on this project?

Archive link for this entry: Diageo Construction Is on Schedule | |

July 08, 2009

CZM Commission Denies Requested Change for Williams & Punch Resort

July 7, 2009 - The Coastal Zone Management Commission Monday approved two of the three changes to conditions for the proposed Williams & Punch resort development, but balked at a third, which developers said was critical, leaving the proponents considering filing with the Board of Land Use Appeals.

"I'm shocked," said Chris Elliot, board member and part owner of the proposed development, after the commission denied on a 1-2 vote the request to add 40 feet to the seaward side of the beach. "That was the critical part."

More from the St. Thomas Source.

April 21, 2009

Diageo Lays Out Green Plan at CZM Hearing

Some news that is a little old but I had been meaning to post - from The Source:

March 19, 2009 -- The Captain Morgan's rum distillery planned for St. Croix will release no molasses or other effluent into the sea, instead converting it to organic solids suitable for soil enrichment, Diageo officials told the V.I. Coastal Zone Management committee Wednesday. At the committee's public hearing on the Diageo CZM permit in the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport conference room, officials outlined an array of measures being taken to make the distillery both efficient and low-impact and emphasized their commitment to hire and train locally.
Archive link for this entry: Diageo Lays Out Green Plan at CZM Hearing | |

March 13, 2009

Senate Committee Fails to Vote on Thatch Cay Development

The St. Thomas Source has an article up about the Thatch Cay development application:

" March 11, 2009 -- Banging the gavel a little after midnight Thursday, Sen. Alvin L. Williams announced that after six hours of debate, senators would continue discussion and possibly vote on an application for the development of Thatch Cay at another hearing scheduled for later in the month.

The meeting kicked off around 6 p.m. Wednesday, with community members -- many of whom have long spoken out against the proposed development -- packing the legislative chambers on St. Thomas. Williams, head of the Senate's Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, said later that he didn't want to rush the vote on the application, but instead give residents and senators who were not able to make it to the hearing another chance to testify and ask questions on March 27. "

This story - and the planned project - has been going on for a long, long, time. It is sort of interesting to see the developers still pushing with the current economic conditions - I would assume they have the funding to go forward - but any projects of this nature at the moment seem a little dubious to me.

January 15, 2009

CZM Gives Green Light to Williams and Punch Resort on St. Croix

The St. Thomas Source is reporting the following:

Jan. 14, 2009 -- The V.I. Coastal Zone Management committee Wednesday evening approved the CZM permit for the Amalago Bay resort development project in estates Williams and Punch, moving the half-billion-dollar-plus project one major step forward.

June 27, 2008

Distillery Will Bring Millions in Tax Revenues, 40 Full-Time Jobs

Great news for St. Croix:

June 25, 2008 -- By 2011, if all goes well, a massive new Captain Morgan rum distillery on St. Croix will begin bringing in millions of dollars to the territory's coffers and create about 40 permanent jobs, said David Gosnell of alcoholic beverage titan Diageo at a press conference Wednesday in Christiansted.

March 20, 2008

WYNDHAM HOTELS AND RESORTS will brand the 400-room Wyndham St. Croix Golf Resort & Casino

Travel Weekly chimes in on the Wyndham deal:

"WYNDHAM HOTELS AND RESORTS will brand the 400-room Wyndham St. Croix Golf Resort & Casino, scheduled to open in 2010. The resort will serve as the cornerstone of a $250 million complex that will include the St. Croix Conference Center. The 294-acre site near downtown Christiansted is a short drive from the airport. The resort will have a casino (the second on the island); a Jack-Nicklaus-designed golf course; a spa and fitness center; four restaurants; lounges; retail stories; and a kids' club. The property will be St. Croix's second chain hotel, joining the Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino."

February 28, 2008

9 Lives: Wyndham St. Croix Golf Resort and Casino

This thing just won't die - it looks like the Golden Casino project on St. Croix is not only alive, but kicking (although with a different name!):

Feb. 27, 2008 -- Wyndham Hotels and Resorts will manage the long-delayed Golden Gaming casino resort project on St. Croix's South Shore, developer Paul Golden announced Wednesday morning at The Palms at Pelican Cove.

Wyndham Resorts made its own announcement, broadcast on CNN at 8 a.m. Wednesday. "Golden Gaming" no more: Henceforth the project will be known as Wyndham St. Croix Golf Resort and Casino.

"After seven and a half years, Golden Resorts couldn't be more pleased and honored to have Wyndham managing the property," Golden said. "Wyndham's past experience with their 24 properties in the Caribbean and Latin America gives us the benefit of their sales, marketing and reservations system, their triple-rewards program for their members, and their network of Wyndham vacation-ownership condos. And they are well-known, experienced managers of hotels and resorts."

Archive link for this entry: 9 Lives: Wyndham St. Croix Golf Resort and Casino | |

November 21, 2007

St. John restaurants available

Frank Barnako is reporting that there are several restaurants for sale on St. John:

Pastory Gardens, $6 million - This is really a real estate land development offering

Stone Terrace, $650,000

Baked in the Sun, $450,000.

Chilly Billy's, $275,000

(Formerly) Duffy's, $200,000

Cafe Roma, $175,000

Sort of surprised to see the Stone Terrace on that list. Baked in the Sun at 450k? You would have to sell an awful lot of sandwiches to cover that!

Archive link for this entry: St. John restaurants available | |

November 13, 2007

Governor Vetoes Multiple Bills, Raises Issues About Separation of Powers

News from the St. Thomas Source today of Governor deJongh vetoing a couple of bills - including the following:

"DeJongh also vetoed a rezoning request that would have allowed for the construction of a commercial center -- replete with retail stores, luxury condominiums and themed restaurants -- to Smith Bay. During a recent Senate hearing, representatives from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources expressed concern about the request. Developers asked for a zoning variance -- which allows the property to be used for something other than its designated purpose -- to allow for the construction of a climate-controlled storage facility."

And other real estate related items.

November 08, 2007

St. Croix Casino Developer Loses Gamble, Folds

Can't say that I didn't see this coming:

Nov. 7, 2007 -- After more than six years of delays, numerous extensions to its casino license, lawsuits by environmentalists and competitors and a Senate agreement to fund a $32 million conference center, Golden Gaming's plans to build a resort have come to a close with foreclosure and auction of the lands.

Paul Golden of Golden Gaming has tried to develop a casino resort costing several hundred million dollars on St. Croix's south shore since 2001. (See "Golden Gaming CEO Remains Steadfast in His Vision.")

On Dec. 1, 2006, the Connecticut-based hedge fund Silver Point Capital loaned Golden Gaming $15 million, secured by a mortgage on the casino development company's land holdings. Notice of default was received by Golden Gaming on June 12 and, on Aug. 30, Silver Point filed foreclosure papers on all of Golden Gaming's land holdings, claiming the lands in payment of the debt. On Oct. 25 a judgment was entered in Superior Court on St. Croix, saying the parties have agreed to terms of the foreclosure.


August 07, 2007

Little Switzerland to be Acquired by NXP Corporation

Pretty interesting news on the retail front from the Virgin Islands:

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- NXP Corporation announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Little Switzerland, Inc., from Tiffany & Company . The transaction is scheduled to close on or before August 31, 2007. Little Switzerland operates 25 duty-free retail storefronts throughout the Caribbean offering luxury items such as watches, jewelry, crystal and china. NXP Corporation, operating under the retail brands "Jewels" and "Azura by Jewels", operates 12 duty-free stores in the Caribbean offering luxury watches and jewelry. Both companies are authorized retailers and distributors for leading luxury brand names.

"This transaction brings together two premier companies with one vision: to be the finest luxury retailer at vacation destinations worldwide, offering preeminent brands and outstanding customer service to the luxury retail market. Through expanded distribution, we will be able to build stronger relationships with our valuable customers," said Hal Tayler, President of NXP Corporation.

"Little Switzerland is a great brand with a rich history that has been built and preserved by the dedicated individuals on our staff. NXP Corporation is a strong financial backer that brings us the needed regional strengths, global reach and entrepreneurial spirit that will drive growth. We are very confident that NXP is the right partner and optimistic about the future," said Chris Cooper, CEO of Little Switzerland.

NXP Corporation is owned by the CI Group, a family of closely held companies that employs over 4,000 people worldwide in a variety of industries that are leaders in technology, marketing services, logistics, and retail distribution. "Little Switzerland will benefit greatly from the CI Group's global reach and long-term commitment to growth," said Tayler.

About Little Switzerland
Established in 1954, Little Switzerland is a leading specialty retailer of branded watches, jewelry, giftware and accessories. Little Switzerland currently operates 25 retail stores on 11 Caribbean islands as well as in the state of Florida.

About NXP Corporation
NXP Corporation, based in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was established in 1991 and operates 12 premier luxury retail storefronts in the Caribbean and the state of Florida offering branded jewelry and watches. Under the brands "Jewels" and "Azura by JEWELS," NXP spans across many islands in the Caribbean, including St. Thomas, St. John, Key West, and Tortola. NXP also operates multiple luxury catalog programs distributed nationwide. For more information, please visit http://www.jewelsonline.com/.

August 03, 2007

UVI Tech Park

Tough story on the proposed UVI Tech Park on St. Croix out today in the VI Daily News - it pulls no punches exposing the fact that nothing has happened for nearly 6 years with 13 million dollars spent:

"The Virgin Islands is chasing an unrealistic Silicon Valley fantasy and sacrificing practical economic development at the expense of taxpayers.

Since 2002, the territory has allocated at least $13 million on the gamble that the University of the Virgin Islands' Research and Technology Park will attract high-tech companies to move to the islands.

Much like the expensive promises that left St. Croix with the near-vacant Rohlsen Airport and the unused Ann Abramson cruise ship pier, the assumptions that drive the Tech Park are based on miscalculations and unrealistic expectations.

Archive link for this entry: UVI Tech Park | Comments (1) |

May 22, 2007

Island Global Yachting, Yacht Haven Grande

Island Global Yachting announced the opening of Yacht Haven Grande on St. Thomas, USVI on March 26, 2007. This is old news but I wanted to make sure we had it on the site for reference. Their full press release is below the fold.

NEWS RELEASE YACHT HAVEN GRANDE OPENS IN ST. THOMAS, USVI

NEW YORK, NY (March 26, 2007) Island Global Yachting (IGY) held the Grande Opening of its first luxury yacht development—Yacht Haven Grande—on March 17th in St. Thomas, USVI, with more than 50 megayachts in attendance. Dignitaries from the USVI, including Governor John P. DeJohngh, as well as dignitaries and heads of state from around the Caribbean islands, also attended. Celebrities, financiers, and real estate executives from such diverse places as New York, Miami, and Dubai flew in for the festivities, which included 150 local performers, a Beach Boys Concert, and a grande finale of fireworks over the harbor.

Yacht Haven Grande broke ground in 2004 and today represents the most comprehensive advanced marina and upland facility in the Caribbean. Dubbed a “playground by the sea”, Yacht Haven Grande has hosted some of the world’s most spectacular megayachts at its state-of-the-art docks and marina facilities.

Andrew Farkas, CEO, IGY, said, “Yacht Haven Grande offers unparalleled service to the owners and crews of the worlds most luxurious megayachts, while also providing a new shopping and dining destination to the tourists and residents of St. Thomas. As the jewel in the crown of the IGY network, YHG brings the latest technology and the glamour of the Riviera to the USVI.

The property includes an esplanade with 3 restaurants and 80,000 square feet of retail space, which is open to the public. Nowhere else on St. Thomas can a cruise ship visitor, tourist or resident enjoy waterside dining and shopping in such a luxurious environment.

Stores include Louis Vuitton, Coach, Bulgari, BCBG, Bebe, White House Black Market, Little Switzerland, Royal Caribbean, Trident, Roberto Coin, and many more. The waterside restaurants include W!kked, casual and fun food and drink, Fat Turtle, a Caribbean roadhouse serving barbeque, pizzas, and frozen drinks, and Grande Cru, a more formal wine bistro offering Mediterranean fare. Next fall will see the opening of Three60, a fine dining establishment, with panoramic views overlooking the harbor.

The property also features 12 waterside condominiums each with 3 bedrooms, 3 ½ baths, and 2 terraces and plunge pool, all with views of the harbor. The Residences at Yacht Haven Grande are currently on sale starting at $2 million.

Guests and residents may also enjoy two tennis courts, a putting green, swimming pool, and, if they wish, office space. The Club at Yacht Haven Grande will open to members in September of 2007. Yacht Club membership will include personalized amenities, recreational facilities and private dining.
The Marina at Yacht Haven Grande offers world-class amenities such as high-speed in-slip fueling, black water pump-out and waste oil removal; up to 600 amps of 3-phase power; WiFi, 24 hour security; side-to berthing for yachts up to 450 feet and beyond; and 18 foot concrete docks and piers. The marina services include, beautifully designed and appointed marina facilities dedicated for crew, owners and guests, including comprehensive nautical provisioning, catering, laundry, florist, and ships’ chandlery.

Yacht Haven Grande, a member of the Island Global Yachting Group (IGY), marina, retail and residential waterside concept is bringing the boating lifestyle onto land. Island Global Yachting (“IGY”) was formed in 2005 by Island Capital Group LLC to acquire, develop, manage and operate world-class marinas around the globe. Founded by Andrew L. Farkas in 2003, Island Capital Group LLC is a New York merchant banking firm specializing in real estate, real estate securities, and securitization. IGY focuses on acquiring, controlling and/or servicing luxury-yacht marinas and surrounding upland real estate properties in key regions from the Caribbean to Mexico and the Arabian Gulf. IGY marinas operate under the signature Yacht Haven Grande Collection and the IGY series brands as well as several private labels. Headquartered in New York & Fort Lauderdale, IGY also has offices in Greenville, South Carolina; St. Thomas, USVI; and Dubai, UAE. For more information, please visit www.igymarinas.com.

For more information contact:

Suzanne Nugent

+1 212 705 5052

snugent@islandglobalyachting.com

Archive link for this entry: Island Global Yachting, Yacht Haven Grande | |

February 11, 2007

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Acquires Grand Beach Palace Resort in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the world's largest vacation ownership company and a member of the Wyndham Worldwide family of companies (NYSE: WYN - News), today announced that it has acquired the Grand Beach Palace resort (formerly the Renaissance Grand Hotel) located on the northeast side of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with plans to convert the property into its flagship Caribbean timeshare resort. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The beachfront property, which has remained vacant for more than two years, will undergo a $40 million renovation including the conversion of its 290 existing hotel rooms into 143 fully furnished condominium-styled timeshare units. The resort is expected to welcome its first guests in late 2008 and will operate within Wyndham Vacation Ownership's FairShare Plus portfolio of resort properties.



U. S. Virgin Islands Real Estate and MLS service



"Wyndham timeshare owners consistently rank St. Thomas among their top locations for vacationing, and we're tremendously pleased to expand our presence in the Caribbean with the acquisition and repositioning of this property as an upscale vacation ownership resort," said Franz Hanning, Wyndham Vacation Ownership president and chief executive officer. "We look forward to working closely with Governor deJongh, local planning and development officials and other leaders throughout the community to complete this exciting vision."

"The reopening of this beachfront property on the East End of St. Thomas and the planned multi-million dollar renovation is a significant boon for not only the hospitality industry but for local contractors and development firms that will likely be called into service as this project takes shape," said U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh. "We welcome the Wyndham Vacation Ownership brand to the Virgin Islands and look forward to the high level of service presently provided at another Wyndham brand on St. Thomas, The Sugar Bay Resort."

The newly acquired resort is situated within six hillside and seven poolside buildings that will be converted into a combination of studio, one-, two-, and three bedroom condominium-styled units, as well as a select number of presidential suites. Other amenities include two on-site restaurants, boat dock, conference area and a nearly 5,000-square-foot beachfront pool overlooking the picturesque Water Bay harbor. The 25-acre property, which boasts a thousand-foot stretch of palm-fringed white sand beaches, is located approximately one mile from the highly popular 300-room Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa.

"The upscale design, planned amenities and guest services we envision for this property will fully complement the neighboring Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa," Hanning continued. "Adding a world-class vacation ownership resort in close proximity to the island's most spectacular resort hotel will dramatically increase our ability to showcase both properties and share all that St. Thomas has to offer with thousands of Wyndham hotel clients and timeshare owners from around the world."

Steven A. Rudnitsky, Wyndham Hotel Group president and chief executive officer, said the purchase "leverages Wyndham Worldwide's dual competencies in lodging and vacation ownership" and exemplifies how development of an upscale vacation ownership property can benefit a nearby hotel under the same brand.

"The conversion of the Grand Beach Palace hotel into a first-class vacation ownership resort will benefit the nearby Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa by offering travelers the best of both worlds: a resort hotel for casual visitors and an upscale vacation ownership destination for those who chose to make a long-term investment in family getaways," he said.

About Wyndham Vacation Ownership

Wyndham Vacation Ownership is the world's largest vacation ownership business as measured by the number of vacation ownership resorts, vacation ownership units and vacation ownership interests. Wyndham Vacation Ownership includes marketing and sales of vacation ownership interests, property management services to property owners' associations and development and acquisition of vacation ownership resorts.

Through its three primary consumer brands, Wyndham Vacation Resorts, WorldMark by Wyndham and Trendwest South Pacific, Wyndham Vacation Ownership has developed or acquired more than 140 resort properties throughout North America and the South Pacific that represent more than 18,000 fully furnished, condominium-style units and more than 750,000 owners of vacation ownership and other real estate interests. Wyndham Vacation Ownership, headquartered in Orlando, Fla., is a member of the Wyndham Worldwide family (NYSE: WYN - News) and is supported by more than 14,000 employees globally.

May 05, 2006

Real estate investors buy stake in Annaly Bay

The VI Daily News is reporting:

"ST. CROIX - St. Croix is poised for more development at Annaly Bay on the northwest end of the island.

Throgmartin Co. announced Tuesday that it has sold 1,100 of the 2,500 acres of its Annaly Bay property to a newly formed company called Annaly Bay Resorts LLC. The company is made up of a group of California-based real estate investors.

Neither company released the purchase price.

Last November, Florida-based Throgmartin purchased 2,500 acres at Annaly Bay from local developer Jake Jacobus, who owns Carambola Resort, for an undisclosed amount of money.

In December, Throgmartin unveiled a master plan for a $500 million mega-resort and residential community to be developed over a 15-year period.

Throgmartin officials said they plan to develop only 1,327 of the 2,500 acres it purchased and would leave 70 percent of the 1,327 acres developed as green space, or natural open space."

There is more here. This is pretty exciting - it is great to see news about possible development on St. Croix.

Archive link for this entry: Real estate investors buy stake in Annaly Bay | |

May 03, 2006

Andy's Mystery Marina Job

Interesting tid bit in the NY Post (not a rag I have much confidence in personally):

"May 1, 2006 -- Andrew Cuomo, the front-runner in the state attorney general's race, works for a little-known real-estate banking firm - and his decision to keep coy about some of its investors has his rivals raising questions. The firm, Island Capital Group, is Cuomo's main source of income.

A major Island project is Yacht Haven Grande, off St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

Other projects, according to Island Capital's Web site, include a partnership with Dubai to manage all of that country's marinas and create a home-mortgage system there.

Cuomo initially told The Post that Island has a small number of investors besides founder Andrew Farkas, but said he did not know who they were.

Later, after speaking to Farkas, Cuomo aides said Farkas and another official are the only partners.

But they didn't provide the names of investors in Island Global Yachting, which Island Capital formed to develop many marina projects.

Cuomo's job description is unclear. Last week, he repeatedly described himself as an "employee" and said he had no title.

Mark Benoit, spokesman for Cuomo rival Mark Green, said Cuomo's father, Mario, "set the standard" when he was elected for demanding full disclosure and it's "disappointing . . . that Andrew Cuomo doesn't share that principle."

Cuomo said he'll make his finances public when he is formally a candidate. Aides said he'll leave Island this month."

Archive link for this entry: Andy's Mystery Marina Job | |

November 15, 2005

Luxury-brand stores lay claim to space at Yacht Haven Grande

The V.I. Daily News is reporting:

ST. THOMAS - While construction on the Yacht Haven Grande development continues, a long list of high-end tenants are preparing to move in.

Lease agreements have been reached with several retail and jewelry stores, including Louis Vuitton, BCBG Max Azria, Roberto Coin, Tommy Bahama, Little Switzerland, Body Deli, Jewels, Diamonds International and Sunglass Hut, said Elie Finegold, vice president of Yacht Haven USVI, which owns the $150 million marina and retail development

in the heart of St. Thomas.

The stores are planning to open in late 2006 and are just the first of many more stores to come, he said.

"I'm very excited about the tenant mix," he said. "It's reflective of what we want to provide, which is world-class, first-rate quality."

More here.

November 14, 2005

Yacht Haven Grande

I didn't know that a company from the UAE was a partner in the new Yacht Haven:

"Istithmar PJSC, a leading investment house based in the UAE, focusing on private equity, real estate and alternative investments, has announced that it has closed on the acquisition of another internationally recognized landmark property, 230 Park Avenue in Manhattan...

Istithmar has invested in a US$200 million mega-yacht oriented mixed use real estate development in the US Virgin Islands."

They have a new website up for Yacht Haven (at least one I have not seen yet). I don't know why people have to add this silly "Grande" after everything... to me it cheapens the whole effort. Who are you appealing too using that kind of language?

Archive link for this entry: Yacht Haven Grande | |

November 09, 2005

Golden gets additional time to secure money for resort

The V.I. Daily News is reporting:

ST. THOMAS - The Public Finance Authority on Monday gave New Jersey-based developer Paul Golden additional time to get his finances in place for the $120 million resort and casino he plans to build on St. Croix's south shore.

The PFA governing board's members voted unanimously to extend Golden's deadline to April 5. If Golden's company, Golden Gaming, misses the new deadline, he risks losing out on the V.I. government's guarantee of an additional $32.5 million investment in a 12,000-square foot convention center proposed for the resort.

The government funding hinges on whether the company can line up 80 percent of the financing to complete the resort project, which includes a 400-room hotel, a spa and an 18-hole golf course near Great Pond.

There is a lot of interesting stuff in the article, with Golden hinting that he has lined up a major hotel name to manage the property. I don't know if I would trust comments like that but you never know.

June 30, 2005

Mashantucket Pequots announce plans for Caribbean resort casino

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.



U. S. Virgin Islands Real Estate and MLS service

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.

June 01, 2005

High Finance

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.

Archive link for this entry: High Finance | |

May 19, 2005

New Ideas Floated for Waterfront, Other Project Updates Given at VIPA Meeting

The Source has this today:

May 19, 2005 -- The Port Authority Board once again got a look at what the Waterfront could be if some improvements were made. At a meeting Wednesday they heard a new twist on an improvement project that has been brought before them repeatedly over the past several years. "No one wants to carry the ball with this project, so it has been dormant for a long time," said Darlin Brin, executive director of the Virgin Islands Port Authority. According to past Source reports, the plans to upgrade Waterfront have been in the works since about 2001. (See St. Thomas Source story "Hearings to Come on Waterfront Upgrade Plans"). But Brin says it's time to take action, and has asked the Yssis Architectural Group to continue to plan improvements on the "water side" of Veteran's Drive. "Activities have significantly increased on the water side in terms of passengers," he said.

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May 03, 2005

Marriott Vacation Club International Announces First Resort on St. Thomas

Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI), the vacation ownership division of Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR), announced today the development of its first resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the island of St. Thomas.

Slated for occupancy in December 2006, Marriott's Frenchman's Cove is proposed to include 220 two- and three- bedroom villas on 13 waterfront acres overlooking scenic Pacquereau Bay. Initial prices range from $14,300 to $70,900 per week of fee simple deeded ownership, depending on season and floor plan selected.

"The U.S. Virgin Islands have long been requested by our vacation owners," said Stephen P. Weisz, president of Marriott Vacation Club International. "We are pleased to add another tremendous Caribbean destination for our owners and guests to experience, and St. Thomas is certainly a beautiful complement to our resort portfolio."

With designs reflecting the island's diverse European heritage and strong Danish colonial influences, the resort will offer spacious plantation-style vacation villas for owners as well as nightly rental guests. Each two- or three-bedroom villa will comfortably accommodate between eight and 12 guests. Vacationers can savor the relaxing Caribbean spirit in a deep soaking tub in the master suite, as well as other villa features including a fully equipped kitchen with granite counters, gracious living and dining areas, a washer and dryer, private balcony, multiple Sony televisions and a Sony DVD player. The new Marriott Vacation Club resort will also offer convenient access to the adjacent 504-room Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort.

Construction of Marriott's Frenchman's Cove is slated to begin this week and sales officially commence today.

February 18, 2005

Former Saks Fifth Avenue Veteran Joins Island Capital Group; Affluent Lifestyle Destination Concept to Launch in U.S. Virgin Islands

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 16, 2005--Island Capital Group, LLC today announced that it has named former Saks Fifth Avenue marketing veteran Sheri Wilson-Gray to build the brand essence of its Yacht Haven initiative, a new lifestyle destination concept designed for the affluent customer drawn to the boating lifestyle.

Plans are underway for the first Yacht Haven in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands (USVI), where a world-class mega-yacht marina will be enriched by an upscale destination center including shopping, dining, entertainment and leisure activities for tourists, yacht owners and residents alike. The facility is directly adjacent to one of the busiest cruise-ship destination ports in the western hemisphere, where almost two million passengers per year come to visit.

"The St. Thomas location is the ideal site to launch our Yacht Haven concept due to its unique location at the very nexus of land, air and water transportation for the entire eastern Caribbean," said Andrew Farkas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Island Capital Group. "The strength of the yachting industry, together with an explosive growth in the mega yacht segment have created an opportunity to build a new lifestyle model around luxury marinas," said Mr. Farkas. Prior to forming Island Capital, Mr. Farkas was the founder, Chairman and Chief Executive of Insignia Financial Group, one of the world's largest real estate services companies that was merged with CB Richard Ellis in 2003.

Sheri Wilson-Gray, former Chief Marketing Officer of Saks Fifth Avenue, will create the core attributes of the Yacht Haven brand. With extensive expertise in building world-class brands, Ms. Wilson-Gray has joined as Executive Vice President and will direct all sales and leasing opportunities to ensure the right selection of stores, entertainment, and accommodations to meet this affluent consumer's needs.

Phase 1 of the Yacht Haven project is scheduled for completion during the first quarter in 2006 and will include approximately 80,000 sq ft high-end retail, 31,000 sq ft office, four waterfront restaurants and an exclusive private yacht club. Twelve luxury condominiums and a variety of marina services are also scheduled during phase 1. Ultimately, the Yacht Haven project will include a conference center, additional high-end retail and a 70-room boutique hotel.

"This is a new twist on the lifestyle destination concept driven by the need for new luxury experiences," said Ms. Wilson-Gray, who will report to Elie Finegold, President of the Yacht Haven project. "I am excited to build this concept with such an accomplished group of real estate professionals."

"We are thrilled to have attracted a seasoned veteran like Sheri with a track record of building strong relationships with luxury brands," said Mr. Finegold. "Sheri has an intimate understanding of this affluent consumer's wants and needs, which will be instrumental in the development of the Yacht Haven concepts."

About Island Capital Group, LLC

Island Capital Group, LLC is a real estate merchant banking firm specializing in real estate development, real estate securities and securitization. The company owns various interests in real estate and real estate securities with an aggregate capitalization in excess of $1 billion. The Company is developing luxury marinas in key locations around the world that will include commercial, entertainment and leisure activities for tourists, yacht owners and residents alike. The Yacht Haven project has been financed by a group of prominent investors led by Andrew Farkas.

February 11, 2005

CZM approves permit for Lindqvist development

Sort of thought this was a dead issue - but it looks like they are still planning to build homes on Lindqvist, from the Daily News:

ST. THOMAS - The St. Thomas-St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee voted to approve a permit for a new Smith Bay residential development and authorized a modification to Ritz-Carlton Club's existing permit to build a member guest lounge and a second pool at its East End resort.

The committee also recommended the renewal of a water permit held by East End Boat Services during a CZM decision meeting held Thursday in the Historic Preservation conference room.

CZM's approval of St. Thomas-based PRM Smith Bay's major permit gives the company a green light to begin moving earth for lots on its 7.75 acres of waterfront property near Lindqvist Beach.

PRM plans for its Cabes Point development include building 17 single-family homes averaging 3,200 square feet, a beach house, manager's residence and a tennis court.

Individual building permits still would be required to construct each home, which have an estimated starting price of $1.5 million.

The development also will have an on-site water treatment plant and pedestrian public access to Lindqvist Beach.

Read the rest here.

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January 21, 2005

New Resort to Rise on Sandy Beach in Puerto Rico, Thanks to Loan From Private Lender Kennedy Funding

Wednesday January 19, 5:52 pm ET

HACKENSACK, N.J., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Sixty beachfront acres in scenic Arroyo, Puerto Rico, will become the island's latest destination hotel/resort, thanks to a $1,000,000 loan from Kennedy Funding, a direct private lender based in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Kennedy Funding continues its international outreach with this loan, which is the latest project on a lengthening list that includes Fiji, the Virgin Islands, and Mexico, as well as parts of Europe and Asia. With the banks in many countries particularly reluctant to lend against undeveloped land, Kennedy Funding has established a reputation as a 'go-to' funding source for projects such as the one in Puerto Rico.

Arroyo is about an 80-minute drive southeast of San Juan, and 30 miles east of the city of Ponce. The vacant land, heavily forested with coconut palm trees, boasts 4,000 linear feet of water frontage along the South Caribbean Sea. Overall, the 60 acres of prime agricultural land is beautiful and lush, and the owner/developer has received preliminary approval to rezone for use as a tourism location. The town of Arroyo is already considered a vacation spot for native Puerto Ricans, and local awareness is high. Transforming this parcel into a destination hotel and resort remains both a challenge and a major opportunity.

Jeffrey Wolfer, president of Kennedy Funding, is of the opinion that Palmas Development, LLC, has the capability and the determination to make a success of this project. "They have a clear vision for these 60 beautiful acres, and it is the kind of forward-thinking, positive land use that Kennedy believes in. We fund developments of this sort all over the world, wherever we find a business that has everything in place, except funds."

Kennedy Funding offers loans to an increasingly wide range of borrowers, from land-use developers to resort builders, entrepreneurs, and businessmen. They have the resources to arrange for financing from $1 million to $100 million, making loan commitments in as little as 24 hours, and closing quickly, often in just 2 weeks.

While specializing in commercial real estate loans, Kennedy Funding has expanded its scope of lending to include a wide range of enterprises, including amusement parks, high-profile golf courses, TV and radio stations, airlines, and sports complexes, among others. Their extensive knowledge base and solid reputation has seen them manage everything from the most complex of financial transactions to simple acquisitions, workouts, refinancing, bankruptcies, and foreclosures.

November 01, 2004

Board of Land Use Appeals to set conditions on Golden's CZM permit

ST. CROIX - The Board of Land Use Appeals will meet Nov. 12 to decide what conditions will be placed on a major Coastal Zone Management permit granted to Golden Gaming to build a $150 million hotel and casino on the south shore.

The project, planned near Great Pond, has generated much controversy, with opponents claiming that it would adversely affect the environmentally sensitive area. Supporters, however, point out that it would create jobs and boost the island's economy.

The board voted unanimously Sept. 28 to uphold the permit the St. Croix CZM Committee granted by default in May to Golden Resorts, Golden Gaming's parent company.

Click here for the whole article

July 29, 2004

Lowenstein buys 17 acres on East End Developer, V.I. government await appraisals in fight over ownership

ST. THOMAS - Developer Alfredo Lowenstein has purchased 17 acres of East End land near Vessup Beach and Muller Bay for $3 million.

But Lowenstein's plans to build homes and condominiums on the land may not become reality. The V.I. government has earmarked $3 million to buy the land by eminent domain.

"Now we'll have to wait to see what happens with the government," Lowenstein said Tuesday.

Click here for the whole article

July 14, 2004

Senate override releases funds for Vessup Beach purchase Lowenstein claims $3 million earmarked for buy not nearly enough as battleground shifts to appraisal

ST. THOMAS - Senators mustered just enough votes Tuesday to override Gov. Charles Turnbull's veto of legislation that appropriates $3 million to buy 17 acres of East End land near Vessup Beach to protect it from development.

The V.I. government now will move to acquire the land by eminent domain - much to the dismay of developer Alfredo Lowenstein, who is set to close on the property next week. Lowenstein's plans for the area include a 50-room hotel, 130 condominium units, his own private residence, redevelopment of the Vessup Beach marina and a restaurant.

And the government may not be able to stop him.

To acquire land by eminent domain, the government must pay fair market value and must use the land for parks, public recreation areas or preserves. The bill sets aside only $3 million. Lowenstein says the property is worth as much as $18 million.

Click here for the whole article

July 12, 2004

Developer inks $9M Cabrita Point land deal

ST. THOMAS - Miami developer Alfredo Lowenstein has closed on 26 acres of undeveloped land on Cabrita Point in a deal worth approximately $9 million.

Lowenstein has partnered with The Ritz-Carlton to build three more of the hotel's luxury timeshare buildings on a 10-acre tract beginning at the entrance to the East End peninsula. Four Ritz-Carlton Club timeshare buildings currently are adjacent to the hotel.

The developer also plans to build high-end residential homes on the remaining 16 acres, which span dozens of undeveloped lots on Cabrita Point.

"Basically, he bought most of the open land left on Cabrita," said Michael Lampe, a real estate broker who handled the 26-acre purchase for Lowenstein.

Click here for the whole article

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June 15, 2004

Mahogany Run Golf Course is sold to Florida company for $17 million

ST. THOMAS - The Ginn Co., a Florida-based real estate development corporation, has purchased Mahogany Run Golf Course and 95 undeveloped acres nearby from Contran Resorts Inc. for $17 million.

"This is a one-of-a-kind golf layout and experience in one of the most picturesque locations in the world," said Rich Hohman, executive vice president of asset development for The Ginn Co.

The Ginn Co. is a private corporation that is developing nine resort communities in Florida that it owns and one in South Carolina, according to the company.

Officials with Dallas-based Contran Resorts did not return telephone calls Monday seeking their comment on the sale. Contran Resorts bought the golf course in 1994.

Click here for the whole article

May 27, 2004

Turnbull vetoes V.I.'s Vessup Beach purchase Some senators say they'll cast votes in favor of override

By TIM FIELDS
Tuesday, May 25th 2004

ST. THOMAS - Gov. Charles Turnbull has vetoed legislation to appropriate $3 million to buy tracts of East End land near Vessup Beach to block Miami-based Lionstone Hotels & Resorts from developing it.

Turnbull took the action during the weekend, before leaving the territory to join Police Commissioner Elton Lewis at the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police conference in Trinidad. Government House made the announcement Monday.

"Unfortunately, we cannot afford to acquire this additional beachfront property at this time," Turnbull said in a prepared statement released Monday.

Click here to read the rest of this article

May 16, 2004

Caneel Bay's new owners plan smooth transition

By TIM FIELDS
Saturday, May 15th 2004

ST. THOMAS - St. John-based CBI Acquisition LLC purchased the luxury Caneel Bay Resort on St. John in a multimillion-dollar deal this week.

CBI Acquisition's purchase of the 166-room luxury hotel from New York-based Deutsche Bank will not affect the 450 employees, Brian Young, the resort's general manager, said Friday.

"We will work very hard to make this a seamless transition," he said.

Click here for the whole article

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May 07, 2004

Senate moves to block Vessup Bay development

In a story that I don't quite understand (and I don't know many of the details) the government has decided to try to block the development of the Vessup Bay area by a developer. Comments and insights to this situation are appreciated.

From The Daily News:
 
Senate moves to block Vessup Bay development
Bill appropriating $3 million to acquire 17 acres by eminent domain passes unanimously

By TIM FIELDS and JEREMY PETERS
Tuesday, April 27th 2004

ST. THOMAS - The Senate on Monday appropriated $3 million to buy tracts of East End land near Vessup Beach and block Miami-based Lionstone Hotels & Resorts from developing it.

The legislation now goes to Gov. Charles Turnbull for approval.

"If the government buys the land, this opportunity for new homes and new jobs to the territory will be lost, Lionstone owner Alfredo Lowenstein said Monday. "We don't understand why they are doing this, but I think common sense will prevail."

Click here for the rest of the story.

Archive link for this entry: Senate moves to block Vessup Bay development | |

April 16, 2004

Lionstone closes on $2M deal for 3 more acres on East End

ST. THOMAS - After a year of negotiations, Miami-based Lionstone Hotel & Resorts has closed on a $2 million deal for 3 acres in the Vessup Bay area, including the land on which the Latitude 18 bar and restaurant and Vessup Beach Marina are located.

Click here for the complete article.

PriceSmart Announces Second Quarter Results

SAN DIEGO, April 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- PriceSmart, Inc. (Nasdaq: PSMT - News; www.pricesmart.com) today announced financial results for the second quarter and six months ended February 29, 2004.

or the second quarter, total revenues declined 9.3% to $165.6 million, from $182.6 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2003. Net warehouse club sales decreased 9.0% to $161.5 million in the current quarter, from $177.4 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2003. Excluding $3.9 million in wholesale telephone card sales in the Philippines (which began in September 2002 and were discontinued in May 2003), net warehouse sales decreased 6.9% from the comparable period sales of $173.5 million in fiscal 2003. Management believes net warehouse sales excluding wholesale telephone card sales provides a better measure of ongoing operations and a more meaningful comparison of past and present operating results than total warehouse sales, because wholesale phone card sales were only for a limited time, were discontinued in May 2003 and fell outside of the Company's core business of operating international membership warehouse clubs. The Company had an operating loss of $1.5 million in the second quarter, compared to an operating profit of $4.6 million in the second quarter last year. Second quarter net loss attributable to common stockholders was $4.5 million or $(0.61) per diluted share, compared to net income available to common stockholders of $1.0 million or $0.14 per diluted share in the second quarter last year.

For the six months ended February 29, 2004, total revenues decreased 9.8% to $313.5 million, from $347.4 million in the first six months of last year. Net warehouse sales declined 9.0% to $305.2 million in the first half of fiscal 2004 from $335.4 million in the first half of fiscal 2003. Excluding $8.7 million in wholesale telephone card sales in the Philippines (which began in September 2002 and were discontinued in May 2003), net warehouse sales decreased 6.6%. The operating loss for the first six months was $5.6 million, compared to operating income of $9.3 million in the comparable period last year. The six month loss attributable to common stockholders was $11.5 million or $(1.59) per diluted share, compared to net income available to common stockholders of $2.0 million or $0.29 per diluted share in the comparable period last year.

There were 25 warehouse clubs in operation at the end of February 2004 (excluding 3 unconsolidated warehouse clubs in Mexico that are owned through a 50/50 joint venture) compared to 27 at the end of February last year. The opening of a new warehouse club in the Philippines is planned for early June 2004.

Commenting on the results for the quarter, Robert Price, Chairman and Interim Chief Executive Officer, said, "We were gratified to see improving sales trends during the quarter, which appear to validate our efforts to redirect the Company back to the basics of the club business. We also improved our execution with the attainment of margin goals, better inventory management resulting in additional cash flow, and improved labor productivity. From an organizational perspective, a new senior financial team was hired in the quarter and plans were put in place for consolidation of substantially all U.S. buying in San Diego, which was completed in March. Much remains to be done to move PriceSmart back to profitability including increasing sales, reducing expenses, hiring a new President, and improving the Company's liquidity by monetizing a portion of our real estate assets. We continue to work diligently on these significant matters."

Conference Call

Management will provide additional details about the second quarter and will answer questions sent in advance, during an audio presentation that will be available beginning at 8:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, April 21, 2004. Questions for management should be e-mailed to ehernandez@pricesmart.com or faxed to 858-404-8848 by Monday, April 19, 2004 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Interested parties may listen to the presentation by visiting the Investor Relations section of the Company's web site at www.pricesmart.com or by dialing 888-286-8010 (617-801-6888 for international callers) and entering the code 31769190 from 8:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 until 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, April 30, 2004.

About PriceSmart

PriceSmart, headquartered in San Diego, owns and operates U.S.-style membership shopping warehouse clubs in Central America, the Caribbean and Asia, selling high quality merchandise at low prices to PriceSmart members. PriceSmart now operates 25 warehouse clubs in 12 countries and one U.S. territory (four in Panama; three each in Costa Rica, and the Philippines; two each in Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Trinidad; and one each in Aruba, Barbados, Jamaica, Nicaragua and the United States Virgin Islands). PriceSmart also licenses 12 warehouses in China and one in Saipan, Micronesia and has an additional three warehouse clubs in Mexico as part of a 50/50 joint venture with Grupo Gigante, S.A. de C.V.

This press release may contain forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties that might cause actual results to differ materially from those foreseen. These statements are often, but not always, made through the use of words or phrases such as "believe," "will," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "plan," and "would." Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. They involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions that may cause actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from any results, levels of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by any forward-looking statement. Some of the risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from estimates or projections contained in the forward-looking statements include but are not limited to: recent legal actions filed against us could adversely affect our future results of operations and financial position; we had a substantial loss in fiscal 2003 and the first half of fiscal 2004 and may continue to incur losses in future periods; we may not have adequate cash to meet operating and capital needs in future periods; we expect to incur substantial legal and other professional service costs; our financial performance is dependent on international operations; any failure by us to manage our growth could adversely affect our business; we face significant competition; we may encounter difficulties in the shipment of goods to our warehouses; the success of our business requires effective assistance from local business people with whom we have established strategic relationships; we are exposed to weather and other risks associated with our operations in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia; declines in the economies of the countries in which we operate our warehouse stores would harm our business; substantial control of the Company's voting stock by a few of the Company's stockholders may make it difficult to complete some corporate transactions without their support and may prevent a change in control; the loss of key personnel could harm our business; we face the risk of exposure to product liability claims, a product recall and adverse publicity; we are subject to volatility in foreign currency exchange; and a determination that the Company's goodwill and intangible assets have been impaired as a result of a test under Statement of Financial Accounting Standards ("SFAS") No. 142 could adversely affect the Company's future results of operations and financial position; as well as the other risks detailed in the Company's SEC reports, including the Company's Form 10-Q filed pursuant to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 on January 14, 2004. We assume no obligation and expressly disclaim any duty to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this press release or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. Certain prior period amounts have been reclassified to conform to current period presentation.

For further information, please contact Robert E. Price, Chairman of the Board and Interim President & Chief Executive Officer (858) 551-2336; or John M. Heffner, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (858) 404-8826.

Archive link for this entry: PriceSmart Announces Second Quarter Results | |

Coldwell Banker, Stout Realty, St. Thomas


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