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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 30, 2024


Jan. 10, 2002 – Although fierce competitors in the marketplace, representatives of two of the world's largest cruise lines joined hands Thursday night to win support from the Senate Government Operations Committee for their joint venture to build a shopping complex at Crown Bay while expanding the adjacent cruise ship dock.
They had a packed house. The gallery was brimming over with just about every element of the community. Former senators Anne Golden and Ariel Melchoir Jr. and longtime delegate to Congress Ron de Lugo brushed shoulders with businessman Tom Brunt III, owner of MSI Building Supplies; Calvin Wheatley of The West Indian Co.; and Solomon Sentongo-Kabuka, University of the Virgin Islands business professor.
Scheduled to testify before the committee were John Tercek, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines vice president for commercial development; Giora Israel, Carnival Corp. vice president for strategic planning; John de Jongh Jr., St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce president and widely presumed 2002 gubernatorial candidate; Edward E. Thomas, WICO chief executive; Gordon Finch, Port Authority executive director; Main Street business executive Sebastiano Paiewonsky-Cassinelli of A.H. Riise Stores; and George H.T. Dudley, cruise lines attorney.
The focus of the hearing was the agreement between the Port Authority and the two cruise lines to expand the Crown Bay dock and build a shopping complex on adjacent land. The cruise lines together have committed to invest $15.5 million on the dock expansion and another $15.5 million on the shopping development.
The development has been at the heart of public controversy over the agreement in recent months. WICO and the chamber of commerce vehemently oppose the project on the grounds that it will divert passengers from downtown and Havensight shopping; VIPA and the cruise line executives say the project will not have that effect and will benefit the territory overall through increased port calls.
At a meeting of the two factions last fall, nothing was resolved. Israel said on the "Topp Talk" show on WVWI Radio Thursday morning that "there will be no siphoning off of business from WICO and Havensight; that was never our intention." He reiterated that contention in the first hours of the Senate committee hearing Thursday evening.
Darlin Brin, Port Authority chief planner, provided a graphic rendition of the cruise lines' plans. Following that, Tercek and Israel made formal presentations and Finch presented a detailed statement, which was to be followed by presentations from the local business community and from WICO.
The hearing continued into the night. A full report will follow Friday morning.

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