August 15, 2004 – About 75 community members attended a party at Pier 69 in Frederiksted Saturday evening and received an update from developers on the proposed William and Punch Resort. Earlier this month William and Punch managing partners David Christopher "Chris" Elliott and Kevin A. Rames announced the purchase of the 588 acres for the development. (See "Land in Hand for William and Punch Resort Complex").
They plan to develop a major resort and residential complex including a 400-room hotel, a marina, a casino, 160 residential lots, condominiums, two golf courses, retail shops, a convention center, botanical gardens and 300 acres of green on the land on St. Croix's West End.
If anyone at Saturday's event was against the project, they did not speak up. Instead statements by Elliot and Rames were greeted with cheers and applause. After remarks by the developers, residents were given a chance at the microphone. Three spoke in support of the project and called on residents to give developers the help they needed. They each said they saw Frederiksted prosperous once and this project would help make it prosperous again.
Elliot said he made his first investment in St. Croix eight years ago and that he thought it was the best place to make an investment then and he still thinks that now. He said the plans were to make William and Punch one of the premier destination resorts in the Caribbean.
Rames mentioned that there were still many obstacles to overcome and asked for community support. He went down a litany of groups who might oppose the project and his refrain of "We are not afraid of you" brought cheers from the audience.
He said the list of development projects on the island that had run into opposition and eventually failed was too long to go over.
In 2001 and 2002 there was much discussion about proposed construction of a $540 million resort and casino on the south shore.
The plan for the Seven Hills Beach Resort and Casino called for a 300-room hotel, up to 800 condominiums and time-share units, two smaller lodges with 380 rooms, an 18-hole golf course and a 20,000 square-foot casino. The government approved rezoning for the development. (See "Senate Approves Rezoning For Resort and Casino").
The government also helped with funding. (See "PFA OKs $35M in Bond Money for Robin Bay Casino").
Adding to the somewhat confusing picture today of proposed development on St. Croix is a proposal by Golden Gaming.
A $150 million casino and resort complex is proposed near Great Pond, which environmentalists describe as an important wetland. The project is stalled in a legal dispute over a permit from Coastal Zone Management Committee. (See "Judge: Golden Gaming Must Adhere to Permit Process").
Rames has been representing Golden Resorts at CZM meetings.
In his remarks Saturday, Rames said that some people would even resort to "illegalities" to stop development on St. Croix. Rames has been questioning the legality of the CZM denial of a permit to Golden Resorts.
Sen. Renee Luther was in attendance at the event, but he made no public comment.
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