|U.S. Virgin Islands Street Atlas $34.95|
|Settler's Handbook for the USVI $14.95|
|Franko's guide map of the U.S. Virgin Islands $9.95|
I just don't think there are jobs on the island to support local real estate like this:
Despite generous subsidies for first-time home buyers, the V.I. Housing Finance Authority is having trouble selling units in its Calabash Boom moderate price housing development on St. John, acting Executive Director Adrienne Williams told the Legislature Wednesday during budget hearings.
Of the recently completed 24 duplex units in 12 buildings on St. John, six units have sold and one is under contract, Williams said.
"The typical St. Johnian has property and prefers to build on their own property," she said. VIHFA has been tweaking its approach, emphasizing how owning a home is a great investment compared to renting.
"So you don't think it is the price point, but more lack of interest?" asked Sen. Louis Hill.
While the asking price of $295,000 per unit may put off some buyers, that price is before substantial VIHFA subsidies, said Williams.
St. John Properties
Let the professional staff of St. John Properties find the house, land or commercial location for sale or for rent which meets your needs and fulfills your dreams on St. Thomas, the capital of the Virgin Islands, on St. Croix, with its quiet pastoral beauty, or on St. John, the crown jewel of the Caribbean. Visit >St. John Properties for more information.
Alvarez & Marsal Canada ULC ("A&M"), in its capacity as Agent to the Court-appointed Receiver of the Mortgaged Property of First American Development Group/Carib LLC, known as the Pond Bay Club, shall be conducting a sale of the Receiver’s right, title and interest in certain assets. The sale will take place at the Pond Bay Club project site on St. John, USVI from September 21, 2010 to September 24, 2010.
The Pond Bay Club was planned as a 15-acre private residential resort located on Chocolate Hole Bay in St. John, USVI. The development plan contemplated the construction of 50 residential units and related amenities and services comprised of 17 buildings.
The assets being offered for sale include two new 1 Megawatt Broadcrown generators, seven Jeep vehicles, general construction materials (e.g. lumber, storm water & sanitary piping and conduit, electrical supplies), furniture and fixtures, a "Fastway" concrete plant with three 10 yard trucks, construction trailers, and shipping containers.
The assets will be offered for sale on an "as is, where is" basis, without warranty.
RE/MAX Island Paradise Realty with its nationwide recognition, offers you complete listings of all homes, condos, land, timeshares and commercial properties for sale on St. John. Re/Max Island Paradise Realty is conveniently located at Mongoose Junction. Visit the RE/MAX Island Paradise Realty website for more information or send them an email. WINNER OF THE DAILY NEWS BEST REAL ESTATE AGENT, 2007 and BEST REAL ESTATE AGENCY, 2010!
Cruz Bay Realty, Inc. is a second generation, family owned real estate company serving St. John since 1985. Cruz Bay Realty takes great pride in their reputation, integrity, and understanding of the real estate market on St. John. Whether you are looking for the ideal island property to purchase, or you are trying to make a decision about selling, you can rely on the professional team at Cruz Bay Realty, Inc. to give you accurate and informed advice and information. Please visit their website www.cruzbayrealty.com for more St. John real estate information.
Took a quick tour at the Pond Bay Club last week - I was really impressed with the interiors. This is going to be a great place to stay in the future:
A "once in a lifetime" offering of spectacular waterfront homesites in coveted Ditleff Point, St. John, United States Virgin Islands. Ditleff Point amenities include a tastefully landscaped native stone gated entry, paved roadways with scenic overlooks, underground utilities, and a common white sandy beach.
This is from August, but Frank Barnako is reporting on his blog that both Bamboula in Mongoose Junction and Palm Jewelers in Wharfside Village are for sale.
Interestingly Bamboula has listed themselves on craiglist -
I am not sure what this says about the state or retail on St. John, but I think it says something. As someone who has owned a couple of small businesses over the years I personally have a hard time looking at these price tags - but hey, you never know!
Here is a great story for St. John and the territory today from The Source:
May 28, 2008 -- Drawing on unprecedented intra-governmental cooperation, Gov. John deJongh Jr. and U.S. Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller IV announced plans Wednesday for a new school on St. John, which will end decades of ferry rides for the island's students.
"It is the right thing to do," Rockefeller said. "Maintaining the status quo was the wrong thing to do."
Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who received the territory's Alexander Hamilton Award in February, said he lent his support to the initiative when he learned that St. John children had to take the ferry to go to Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas.
When the governor contacted Rockefeller about the issue, deJongh said, the senator's immediate response was "How can I help?" Rockefeller's family donated the land that launched the national park on St. John in the 1950s.
A groundbreaking ceremony for Pond Bay, the new, lavish Private Residence Club on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Pond Bay is located on a secluded 15+ acre beachfront private enclave and will offer 50 three-bedroom villas and cottages, ranging from 2,200 square feet to 4,300 square feet with luxury finishes, furnishing and accessories. Amenities will include a beach club and pool, clubhouse, athletic club, restaurant, fitness center and ESPA destination spa and is scheduled for completion in December 2008.
Pond Bay is the sister property of St. Barth’s highly acclaimed Isle de France and the latest addition to the expanding collection of luxury Private Residence Clubs throughout the world.
Governor John de Jongh and Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty will be in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Photo opportunities following the groundbreaking will be available.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
4:30 PM-6:30 PM
Frank Barnako has a post up on his blog with recent photos of the 3 major construction projects on St. John - Grande Bay is below:
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
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.
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.
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.
The Tradewinds has some interesting listings on their classifieds page today:
For Sale by Owner
1/4 acre lot
located in Coral Bay, flat lot with water views, affordable. 340-690-5192
For Sale by owner:
2 houses, 1/4 acre, stonework, water views, furnished, great rental history. $850,000.00 St. John, U.S.V.I.
Call (941) 497-2325
• 3 Bd/1 Ba, A/C,
• 2 Bd/1 Ba, A/C, W/D,
in town, $2350/mo.
• 1 Bd/1 Ba, Coral Bay,
• 2Bd, 2 Ba Coral Bay
APARTMENTS FOR RENT
Chocolate Hole East:
1 Bed, 1 Bath mid-level Waterfront $1400.
Available Dec. 1st. 715-853-9696
3 bd/1ba Carolina, Coral Bay semi-fernished home $2,000 month call 340-714-2669
2BD/3BA apt. for rent, Mongoose, $2900/mo., A/C, W/D, parking available. Dec. 1st, semi-furnished. 774-8175, ext. 28.
Coral Bay, Seagrape Hill, view of Hurricane Hole. Two bedroom, one bath. Long term. $2,000/month plus utilities. 610-739-3361
Coral Bay cottage for
reasonable rent. 1 bed/1.5 bath available Dec. ‘07. Fully furnished, Coral Bay view, very private – fenced yard. Long term or
minium of four months. Non-smoker, no pets. 779-4154
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!
Interesting news from the St. John Source:
"Nov. 9, 2007 -- The Trust for Public Land is working to acquire the land under Maho Bay Camps, Greg Chelius, director of the trust's Florida and Caribbean programs, told members of the Rotary Club of St. John Friday.
"They have it for sale for a healthy price," Chelius told the nearly 20 people gathered at the Westin Resort and Villas Beach Cafe for the weekly meeting. He plans to meet with the owners' attorneys on Dec. 10 in New York."
Over on NewsOfStJohn.com Frank Barnako has the following story:
American Paradise Realty is advertising the property and its adjacent parking lot saying, "Price just slashed." There was a contract on the property last October, when the original asking price was $1.395 million. It fell through.
There is more here.
Frank also has a post up ranking the St. John realtors, by the amount of properties they have listed in the MLS.
On-StJohn.com is reporting:
"The big real estate sale this month was the closing on Kenny Chesney’s Upper Peter Bay land, a beautiful spot where he was known to have had alfresco jam sessions. It sold for just under $6.6 million, below its $8.5 million asking price. (The land was on the market for about 22 months and was originally listed at $11 million.) The 2.9 acres was purchased in 2004 for just under $5 million, so he made out okay."
The Tradewinds is reporting on the Estate Maho deal and has comments from locals also:
“Yippee — I’m very glad that the agreement finally went though,” said Pam Dolson. “We spent a long time watching the development of the whole situation and I wasn’t sure it was going to happen for a while. But I’m so glad that everyone hung in there and got the deal done.”
The AP is reporting from San Juan:
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico —
A large swath of coastal land has been secured by a U.S. conservation group, paving the way for the biggest expansion of the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park since it was created more than 50 years ago.
The $19 million deal to purchase the majority of 419 acres of tropical terrain, which features ruins of colonial plantations and is believed to contain pre-Columbian Indian village sites, was reached by The Trust for Public Land after years of negotiations with private owners, the group said Tuesday.
The pristine property on St. John, known as Estate Maho Bay, will be transferred to the National Park Service when federal funds become available in two to three years, said John Garrison, the San Francisco-based non-profit's project manager for the acquisition.
"This untouched land, which many people assumed was part of the park, was very seriously threatened with development," Garrison said in a phone interview from Florida.
Preservationists had feared developers would build on the unprotected parcels, which are located in the middle of the park and had attracted a slew of development proposals over the years.
The land includes more than a quarter-mile of white-sand beaches and rises to almost 1,000 feet in height, said Greg Chelius, director of the trust's Florida and Caribbean program. The parcels will be the biggest addition to the 7,150-acre Virgin Islands National Park since its creation in 1956.
"If this large portion of the watershed was developed it would have changed the entire landscape," said park superintendent Mark Hardgrove.
The turquoise waters of the park on St. John, the smallest island of the U.S. Caribbean territory, feature sea grass beds, green turtles and coral reefs.
This is great news for the National Park and St. John.
The St. John Tradewinds is reporting:
The 27th Legislature of the V.I. wasted no time overriding Governor John deJongh’s veto of the controversial Sirenusa zoning variance bill on Tuesday morning, May 29.
The senate originally approved Enighed Condominium LLC’s request to construct seven additional units — adding another story on two buildings — at its five acre $35 million luxury condominium site overlooking Cruz Bay on April 17.
DeJongh sent his veto down on May 10, one day before the deadline to take action on the bill.
May 29 was the first scheduled legislative session since deJongh signed the bill’s veto and the senators got right down to business. Around 11:15 a.m., following various committee reports, veteran St. Thomas/St. John District Senator Celestino White introduced a bill to consider an override of deJongh’s veto.
St. Thomas/St. John District Senator Louis Hill was the lone dissenting vote, with St. Croix District Senator Terrence “Positive” Nelson abstaining. All other senators, including St. Johnian Senator at Large Carmen Wesselhoft, voted in favor of the override consideration.
As people have noted, there is something fishy here. The worst part of this to me is that it seems that the legislature is acting against the will of the people - the people they are supposed to represent. More of the story here from the VI Daily News.
Frank Barnako is reporting the following:
The number of homes for sale on St. John has increased at least 11% since the start of the year. The morning's Multiple Listing Service Web site shows a record 140 residences on the market. Asking prices are between from $365,000 for an unfinished apartment with a view of Salt Pond to a $10.4 million beauty at Hansen Bay on East End. Something for every taste and pocketbook, perhaps.
The St. John Tradewinds has a story on the Sirenusa development:
In the wake of the V.I. Legislature’s passage of Sirenusa’s controversial zoning variance, a number of Love City residents have been making strong allegations regarding the luxury condominium project overlooking Cruz Bay.
The Senate voted 13 to 1 to approve a zoning variance for the 40-unit development from R-2, residential low-density, to R-3, residential medium-density, in order to construct seven additional units in three existing buildings on the lowest portion of the five-acre site.
The campaign against the development is being led by people who are determined to shut the site down, according to Sirenusa developer Enighed Condominiums LLC owner Carlo Marzano.
“You have so many things being said right now and a lot of the people have problems with the way development is taking place,” said Marzano. “There are people in this community who are emotionally and ideologically invested in seeing this project being shut down. And, failing to this end, they will say and do whatever is necessary to turn people against it.”
The St. John Board of Realtors website has a good page for St. John Zoning Regulations including information on R-1 Residential - Low Density, R-2 Residential - Low Density One and Two Family, and W-1 Waterfront Pleasure.
"R-1 Residential - Low Density Much of the land in the Virgin Islands is hilly or mountainous with steep slopes and a minimum amount of soil over a rocky subsurface. These areas are being used for residential purposes, with sewage disposal by means of septic tanks. The minimum lot area for such use should be one-half (1/2) acre, and even this minimum is questionable with respect to adequate disposal of sewage without surfacing of effluent to disturb one's neighbor. Fortunately, there is no conflict with wells that supply drinking water. These zones should be carefully located in relation to subdivision regulations."
Much more here.
A user on the Virgin Islands On Line Travel Forum:
"I spoke with Miles Stair of Holiday Homes of St. John this morning, who said that groundbreaking on the Chocolate Hole Pond Bay development was due to start this month. Can anyone confirm that?"
Virgin Islands On Line has free classifieds for the USVI. If you have anything to sell, including homes, land, furnishing, etc. you should check it out. Leave an ad for FREE or maybe find something you need.
Over on NewsOfStJohn.com Frank Barnako has the latest on Grande Bay and Sirenusa. It looks like Grande Bay is very close to being occupied, and that several units at each development are for sale - again.
Here is an email I just received:
Dear Previous Gallows Point Guest,
We have listed two of our Gallows Point Condos for sale. Should you or anyone you know be interested, please contact me by email or call me at 1-800-348-8444.
Gallows Point Resort Condos for Sale. Great Investor Opportunity.
Prudent Investment. Prestige Ownership. Dream Destination.
Call Richard Matheny 1-800-348-8444 or Email email@example.com
Suite 1D: Ocean View, Upper 1BR / 1.5 Baths
Suite 9A: Ocean View, Lower 1BR / 1 Bath
From the NY Times:
COLLEEN WILSON, a lawyer who relocated her family to St. Thomas for a job at a multinational insurance company this spring, has not rented a home since she was 21. Not in Britain, nor in Jamaica, nor in Florida. Here in the Virgin Islands, however, she has been renting a three-bedroom house for more than eight months. And she doesn’t like it.
“Renting seems like such a waste,” she said, of the modest house on a small lot in the eastern Red Hook section of the island that could be hers to own for slightly more than $1 million.
“But I’m just not comfortable with the range of prices here,” she said. “Based on the property values in Miami, where we lived before, I expected to purchase something nice for $500,000 or under within six to eight months of exploring the island. Everything I’m interested in is $1.2 million, and I can’t see myself mortgaging my entire lifestyle to incur that kind of debt.”
From the St. John Tradewinds:
"After months without communication with the Virgin Islands government, the U.S. Postal Service has abandoned its plans to move its St. John post office to the proposed vendors plaza, and has instead settled on a still to be constructed building at Pond Road and Enighed Road, across from Enighed Pond, where a car wash is currently located."
This news is a bit old already, but worth posting:
"After receiving an order to halt construction this week on a major condominium project in Estate Enighed on St. John, workers will be able to resume building today - but only partially.
The Sirenusa Residences project came under scrutiny in recent weeks after drawings provided to its listing real estate broker showed three- and four-story structures were planned there. The area's zoning allows residential one- and two-family dwellings no more than two stories high.
The project received a special group-dwelling permit from the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources in September 2004 to construct 40 living units in 29 buildings on slightly less than 5 acres of land."
Frank Barnako is reporting:
"Even though inventory is at a record high, real estate sales people say 2004 was one for the books - and 2005 looks strong, too. Industry statistics in mid-December showed at 160 transactions were closed last year compared to 177 in 2004. But the average sale price is higher, with 2005's total business value at $140 million, compared to 2004's $115 million. "The average price has increased on St. John yet again," John McCann of John Foster Real Estate told the St. John Tradewinds.More here.
The St. John Tradewinds is reporting the following:
In a motion that divided the residents gathered in the Cruz Bay Legislature Conference Room, the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee (CZM) unanimously approved Reliance Housing Foundation’s major land permit to construct a $24.8 million, 72-unit affordable housing development in Estate Calabash Boom.More here.
Reliance plans to build eight six-unit rental apartment buildings and 12 duplex townhomes for sale on about eight acres of land across from Johnson’s Bay, along the southern shore of Coral Harbor.
Plans for the development also include construction of reverse osmosis and waste water treatment plants, and renovation of the existing senior center.
The V.I. Daily News is reporting:
"ST. JOHN - A group of Coral Bay residents strongly opposed a developer's plans to build a $24.8 million affordable housing development in Estate Calabash Boom at a St. John V.I. Coastal Zone Management Committee public hearing Wednesday night.
Residents said that the development could adversely affect the Johnson Bay area's environment; that hundreds of new residents could increase pollution and traffic congestion in the area; and that the project fails to secure affordable housing for St. John residents.
Representatives for Florida-based Reliance Housing Foundation said Wednesday that they have made every effort to design affordable housing that has the lowest impact on the environment."
From the VI Daily News:
ST. JOHN - The V.I. Tax Assessor's Office will begin reassessing property values of St. John residential properties in January, and government officials fielded questions and concerns from island residents Thursday night about the process.
The revaluation, which could take until mid-2006 to complete, is part of an ongoing territorywide project. The Tax Assessor's Office is currently doing residential property revaluations on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and commercial property assessments were completed in May territorywide.
Here is a special feature brought to you by Cruz Bay Realty:
Anyone planning to visit St. John will first behold its beauty from afar, or from the sea, since this unspoiled and underdeveloped island has no airstrip, or seaplane service. Its mountainous outline, extending eastward to the British Virgin Islands, can be seen from neighboring St. Thomas, intriguing from that vantage point since the island’s north shore appears nearly uninhabited, carved with a sequence of tranquil aquamarine bays capped by white sandy beaches. Indeed, this portrait is what sets St. John apart, for over half of the island is protected as the Virgin Islands National Park, a generous gift from Laurance Rockefeller that took over half of St. John out of the real estate market. The lure of owning property is particularly appealing since all real estate laws pertinent to the Virgin Islands reflect stateside standards. Ownership is fee simple, under U.S. flag. There are no restrictions against purchasing solely for investment, and no laws dictating when, if ever, you must build on undeveloped land. Taxation is figured at 1.25% of 60% of the market value, a favorable calculation that keeps this aspect of ownership affordable. Most of the zoning is low density residential; indeed there is very little commercially zoned property allotted on St. John. Plans and permits are issued in accordance with an enforceable building code. Neighborhoods usually have covenants to shape the development and maintain some semblance of order, but these tend to be logical and not terribly imposing. For instance, many areas prohibit hanging laundry in view, or keeping goats, donkeys, pigs and chickens as pets. As charming as these country elements may seem as you tour the island, goats and donkeys can ravage your garden in a day and it’s doubtful that the 5 A.M. wake up call of a rooster will enhance your life.
Development has evolved as St. John has been discovered by more and more people looking for the ultimate Caribbean retreat: that place where you can soak your feet in 80 degree crystal clear water and enjoy your “Planters Punch” under a palm just hours after leaving the mainland. In the past fifteen years two new shopping centers graced the main town of Cruz Bay, and another, located on the outskirts of town, opened in late 1999. Two luxury hotels, Caneel Bay and The Westin, compete for the high end hotel market. A multitude of new homes have been built primarily as vacation villa, rented on a weekly basis to vacationers and occupied by their absentee owners for several weeks a year. The mainly affluent rental market has mandated an upgrading of construction quality, while the architectural theme holds strongly to the West Indian tradition of masonry construction, with arches, galleries, native stonework, tile floors and ceiling fans. Homes are designed for indoor/outdoor living; here you can appreciate having your dining table on a covered porch all year round, protected from the sun and rain, and cooled by the constant trade winds. Locals rarely use air conditioning; however upscale rental villas often install air conditioning, at least in the bedrooms.
If you decide to establish permanent ties to St. John, the scope of the real estate market ranges from modest to astonishing. Home sites start at about $175,000 but that won’t afford you an ocean view; for a view of the sea double that price to start. The more ocean you can see, the more you can expect to pay, with the best hillside lots in the $400K and up range. Since most of the central region of St. John belongs to the Park, residential areas are oriented along the south shore near Cruz Bay and at the eastern end of the island near the tiny village of Coral Bay. If you enjoy the quiet of the National Park surroundings, there are a few in-holdings that garner prices well above $1,000,000, and for the prestigious north shore location at Peter Bay a half acre hillside lot will start at about $1,500,000. Island wide, there are very few oceanfront home sites and even fewer with beach frontage. The higher price tags attached to waterfront sites do not appear to deter buyers; they are among the fastest selling and most in demand.
While the starting prices on homes are high, some properties remain within reason. The average price for a home during the last two years has been over $1,000,000. It is still possible to find something under that amount, especially if you can live without an ocean view. The tendency in new homes is definitely geared more to the vacation market, which is more discriminating and demanding now than in the past. With insurance premiums very expensive, new construction of upscale homes is almost exclusively masonry or native stonework. A great ocean view is a must, as well as a pool, and equally appealing bedroom suites numbering from two to six, along with air conditioning in the bedrooms. Fully equipped kitchens, designer furnishings with a tropical flair, along with all the comforts of home have become necessities. Outdoor areas are an integral, year round, part of the home. Flowering landscapes complement patios, decks, and pool areas which are furnished with comfortable outdoor furniture. New vacation villas list for one million to $3+ million, depending on location, construction and details.
Condominiums cropped up in the early eighties, primarily in or near Cruz Bay, where zoning permits denser development. The largest and only waterfront complex, Gallows Point, sits at the entrance to the harbor. Gallows consists of 60 one bedroom units, in 15 buildings, with manicured grounds and a restaurant on the premises. These units rarely come on the market, but when they do are listed in the $700k range. The new upscale Grande Bay Resort, located on Cruz Bay Harbor, will have 48 units when completed. Other popular condo complexes are: Lavender Hill, Battery Hill, Cruz Views, Pastory Estate, and Serendip. Condos have proven to be a solid investment because most have vacation rental programs in place.
If you decide to live on St. John, be prepared for higher prices for all purchases, and more limited services than you may be accustomed to in the states. St. John is a small Caribbean island where everything is imported, primarily from the mainland. There are approximately 5,000 full time residents, so if you live here you have the chance to know most everyone and they’ll know everything you do. Activities and groups to become involved in are: Yacht Clubs, Kids and the Sea, St. John Singers, Historical Society, Friends of the Park, Audubon Society, St. John Community Foundation, St. John School of the Arts, Rotary, Lions, BPW, and churches of various denominations. People are friendly and come from very diverse and interesting backgrounds.
The views are stunning, the beaches gorgeous, and thanks to our National Park, vast acres of St. John will be preserved for future generations — a St. John property owner’s greatest asset.
"An analysis of property values in Aspen, Camden, Fairhope, St. John, and Woodstock reveals that Nantucket’s prices are not as far-fetched as may be perceived "
Below is part of an article from a Nantucket, MA website that quotes Joan Sparling extensively:
ST. JOHN, USVI
There are approximately 5,000 year-round residents on the island of St. John, according to the most recent census figures available to American Paradise Real Estate president Joan Sparling.
The property tax is based on 60 percent of assessed value multiplied by one and one-quarter percent, roughly $750 a year per $100,000.
Known for its white sand beaches and unspoiled beauty, St. John is a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts, but also offers amenities such as a few quality restaurants, hotels and yacht supply facilities.
There is a small commercial area, but no airport. Access is by ferry from neighboring St. Thomas. Because of a generous donation of acreage from one of the Rockefellers, two-thirds of St. John and its shorelines are protected national park property.
Sparling said that although many people live full-time on St. John, it is the Baby Boomer generation’s interest in second homes or investment properties that is driving the island’s current real estate market.
“Supply and demand has always kept our prices higher, particularly now, and like Nantucket, it is hard to find a home 2,000 to 2,500 square feet for under a million. Our construction costs are high — many are building masonry homes, because of square foot, and that’s not even highend construction,” said Sparling. “As prices for real estate have increased, it has made it more difficult for teachers and others who are an important part of the island to purchase or rent. Therefore, what is available is expensive, so we are seeing people moving to St. Croix or St. Thomas.”
According to Sparling, few homes on St. John sell for less than $500,000, and those are “very rustic” one-bedroom cottages that may have difficult access routes.
The most expensive home listed is $13 million, a four-bedroom, fourand a-half-bath with 1.85 acres and on a bay. She explained that at any given time, there are usually 55 to 65 homes on the market in the $2 million range. A typical home selling in that range is two or three bedrooms, with a sea view, pool, gourmet kitchen and tasteful furnishings.
“When you buy a house here, it’s a pretty turn-key operation,” said Sparling. “For $1 million, you may not get a pool. A million is more like a year-round resident.”
There are 180 to 200 parcels of vacant land for sale on St. John. The standard lot measures a half-acre and costs between $180,000 and $1.5 million, depending on the neighborhood. The majority in the lowest range are quarter-acre properties. One 2.5-acre lot is selling for $1.4 million, but cannot be subdivided.
While certainly not cheap, the real estate prices in St. John do not pose a deterrent to the many who want to live in what a National Geographic travel magazine called one of the 50 places in the world that “must be seen” during one’s lifetime, said Sparling.
“The word is out, and the fact that it is [a possession of the United States] and easy to get to,” Sparling said of St. John’s popularity, but also stressed that the island is not just a vacation destination or investment opportunity. “St. John is a real community of people that cares very much about its island and its future and about its residents.”
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."
Frank Barnako is reporting that "Finishing touches are being put on the two-three-story office and retail building which was built where the old Dockside Pub was, at the ferry dock in downtown Cruz Bay. But it's not yet open for business. The delay is because the owners of the property have not provided eight parking spaces. "They currently have three in front of the building," said Brent Blyden, the director of permits for the Department of Natural Resources. "The fact still remains that they need at least five more, and until they do that the building will not receive (an) occupancy (permit)," Blyden told the St. John Tradewinds. Paul Hoffman, co-owner of the property, had no comment for the newspaper." Click here for the rest
Frank Barnako is reporting that Grande Bay Estates just got a little bigger -
Our friend Frank Barnako has a run down on many recent happenings in the St. John real estate market. There is a new marina planned for Coral Bay, a new shopping center in Coral Bay (beginning to see a pattern here?), and a new housing development - in CORAL BAY! Hey, maybe it isn't too late to still buy real estate there. We have also heard via the coconut telegraph that there are plans for a second marina in... Coral Bay. You would think that a U.S. Customs check point, ferry service to the B.V.I. and more would follow... maybe they can stuff an airport out there somewhere?
The Source reports on the building boom and the noise that comes with it on St. John:
"David Holzman, who owns Innovative Builders on St. John, said Monday he expects the construction boom to continue for the next 10 to 15 years. He predicted that "hundreds if not thousands" of houses will be built in the next few years."
Thousands more? I would like to know how many homes are on St. John already. Thousands more doesn't seem quite doable anywhere in the near term. It would put a severe strain on the island's infrastructure and natural resources.
We are already hearing from some that there are too many rental villas - what happens to the vacation market with a flood of thousands of more places to stay?
Frank says the market on St. John is fuller than ever:
"A $4.2 million, 5-bedroom/5.5 bath with pool and hot tub at San Souci moved off the Multiple Listing Service this week, but has not been sold. The property was listed, didn't move, and so it's been taken off the market, according to Diana Beam at RE/MAX Island Paradise Realty. "They usually get renewed and placed back on the market," she said in a comment to NewsofStJohn.com."
Over on newsofstohn.com Frank Barnako reports:
"It's been quiet for the last week, with only one property coming off the Multiple Listing Service and no new residences being added. A 4-bedroom/3-bath property in Carolina, priced at $2.9 million, came off the market, leaving the MLS with 42 residences being offered."
I thought this was old news but Frank Barnako now confirms it on his site - visit the News of St. John for Frank's latest St. John real estate update.
Frank has got a new site - a blog using TypePad to run the "News of St. John".
He has noticed the same thing that we have - real estate news from the USVI seems slow right now. Check out his latest update here
One property was added to the Multiple Listing Service in the last week, none came off. The lone addition, priced at $950,000, is in estate Hard Labor. Built in 1987, the residence has 4-bedrooms and 3-baths; no pool, increasing the inventory of listed available homes to 35.
Check out this week's report from Frank:
"The folks behind the attempted house auction sale last weekend have decided to try the traditional route. The 30-year-old 3-bedroom, 2-bath Enighed home (view is pictured) was added to the Multiple Listing Service at a price of $989,000, almost $40K more than the minimum bid price of $950,000. The owners received no acceptable offers with their auction effort. Also new to the MLS is Ebb Tide, a 3-bedroom/3-bath older home on the water at Chocolate Hole. Asking price is $2,999,000."
Frank Barnako is reporting this is the average price of a home on St. John - check out his site for more info!
By TIM FIELDS
Thursday, June 24th 2004
Florida-based Reliance Housing Foundation began construction Wednesday on 36 affordable housing units in Estate Bellevue, St. John.
Reliance's $20 million Bellevue Village project off Gifft Hill Road will offer 72 duplex units to qualifying renters. Rents will be set at $524 for an 849-square-foot one-bedroom unit and $722 for a 1,479-square-foot four-bedroom unit. The project will be finished in early 2005.
"Affordable housing is overdue on St. John," said Bernadette Crummer, St. Thomas office manager for Reliance, a nonprofit affordable housing provider.
"Summer has begun, and some in the business are taking vacation. Others, however are selling. Inventory of residences on the Multiple Listing Service has risen by 2 to 37 since May 30..
Here's a summary: A 2-bedroom, 2-bath frame Chocolate Hole house came off the MLS. It had been priced at $1.15 million and is located along Great Cruz Bay Road, with access to the beach. A 3-bedroom, 3-bath, 3-million residence, also at Chocolate Hole, also dropped out, perhaps because it was sold. The property was built in 1968."
Inventory is at a three-month low. Only 35 residential properties are on the Multiple Listing Service this week, two less than last week. No properties were added to the list. Sales people will tell you it's tough to do business from an empty cart.
Houses removed from the MLS included a 2-bedroom/2.5-bath at St. Quaco and Zimmerman, listed for sale at $975,00. It went on MLS in mid-April. Also un-listed was a $1.6 million 3-bedroom, 3-bath home (pictured at left) with a 24x20 foot pool. The property at Gifft Hill and Regenback was first offered last year.