Home Depot will open the big orange doors of its new store on St. Croix Wednesday, but they won't do anything as tame as a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the occasion.
Store manager Melissa Ward and other officials will take part in a "board cutting," a ceremony more befitting the latest in Home Depot's chain of 2,245 stores that stretch from its Atlanta headquarters to China.
The first sign that the long-awaited store was ready to open came with little notice or fanfare Tuesday afternoon when the Department of Public Works activated the new traffic signal on Melvin Evans Highway at the entrance to Island Crossing. The signal has been blinking yellow since early August, but now motorists will have to accustom themselves to an extra intersection on the highway.
The grand opening dedication ceremony and Neighborhood Night will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Home Depot, with its staff of more than 100 employees, is the centerpiece of the Island Crossing shopping center that has been a subject of discussion and contention for at least four years. Built by the V.I. company Caribbean Development Partners, the shopping center will eventually encompass 250,000 square feet of retail and storage space. The development Island Crossing is the first beneficiary of an economic development tool called tax increment financing (TIF), in which private developers can use public money to help defray the cost of a development, paying for it by pledging projected future gains in tax revenues from the current improvements that will create those future gains.
The theory is that if the public funding makes feasible a project that otherwise would not happen, the increased tax revenues it will bring in can justify and, through TIF, actually finance the upfront public expense, bootstrapping economic development. The developer is liable for the bonds if the tax revenues don't appear, theoretically protecting the government from any risk of losing money on the deal.