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Calabash Boom Project Gets Mixed Reception

March 1, 2005 – Reliance Housing Foundation showcased plans for its Calabash Boom affordable housing project Tuesday with a presentation at Voyages Restaurant in Coral Bay, St. John.
"The meeting is to let people see the renderings and learn how to apply," Reliance president Robert O. Jackson said as area residents watched a power point presentation, approached Reliance Housing representatives with questions, and noshed on the food and drink provided by Reliance Housing.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Reliance Housing plans to build 24 town houses to be sold by the V.I. Housing Finance Authority. Additionally, it will build and manage 48 rental units.
Jackson said he expects to start work on the project in October. It should be done by spring 2007.
He said that townhouse sale prices have not yet been set.
Information provided by Reliance Housing indicates that two-bedroom, two-bath apartments will rent for $672 a month. The rent from three-bedroom, two-bath apartments runs $758 a month. Four-bedroom, two-bath apartments will go for $807 a month.
The information booklet indicates that a one-person household can earn a maximum of $22,860. The price goes up according to the number of people in the household. For instance, families with eight people can have a maximum household income of $43,080.
Jackson said Reliance Housing must still go through the permit process. He said that when Coastal Zone Management hearings are held, the public will have a chance to make comments.
Reactions from those attending the event were mixed. One Calabash Boom resident, who did not want his name used, said he thought Reliance Housing would do whatever it wanted no matter what the neighbors said.
Alvis Christian, who lives in the Coral Bay area, said that St. John needs the homes, but he has concerns about the infrastructure.
"Sewage, electricity, plumbing, transportation," he said, ticking off his list of worries.
He said he also has concerns about the runoff from the project.
Coral Bay area resident Norm Gledhill said he's concerned that the houses will cost more than people can pay.
"And I don't see any people here who should apply," he said.
Another Coral Bay area resident, Lorelei Monsanto, said she too was concerned about who would qualify for the units.
And she said Reliance Housing could have better reached potential buyers and tenants if it held similar events at churches rather than restaurants.
Calabash Boom resident Bonnie Corbeil said that St. John needs affordable housing. She said she's impressed with what Reliance Housing has done with the Bellevue Village affordable housing project on Gifft Hill, so she expects the same quality to happen at the Calabash Boom development.
She said she was pleased that Reliance Housing was improving the road into the Calabash Boom area.
"Paving the road will get me to my house quicker," she said.
Reliance Housing is in the midst of building the 72-unit Bellevue Village, a project similar to the Calabash Boom project. Jackson said the first occupants will move in around April.
The non-profit company also built Lovenlund Apartments on St. Thomas. It is currently working on phase two of that project.

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