Jan. 26, 2006 – "For me, it is all about creating more hotel rooms for St. Croix," Sen. Usie R. Richards said when discussing a bill he recently ushered through the Legislature and that was signed into law by Gov. Charles Turnbull Thursday.
The bill authorizes the government to acquire the property at 58 and 58A King Street in Christiansted — the old Anchor Hotel property. Turnbull, in a press release, said the acquisition would help the economic revitalization of St. Croix.
The property is currently in a state of disrepair. The last known residents of the hotel were employees of Hovensa who moved out almost three years ago. Neighbors report that the homeless often use the building, and police have been called for problems. The swimming pool in front of the hotel catches rainwater, along with Heineken beer bottles and wrappers from fast food restaurants. The bill requesting funds to make the purchase says the building is infested with rodents.
The major impetus behind Richards' bill, however, is that the old Anchor Hotel property is adjacent to the Kings Alley Hotel, which the bill says is "a property being developed by the Public Finance Authority to assist in the economic development of Christiansted." The new hotel is to be called Sea Island.
When Kenneth Mapp, director of Finance and Administration for the PFA, gave members of the St. Croix Tourism & Hotel Association an update on the project in November, he predicted the new hotel would be open to catch the end of this tourism season.
However, progress on the project has been slow, and a business owner on the boardwalk wondered recently whether if it would be open for next tourist season. Mapp refused to return a half-dozen phone calls to his office requesting comment on the project.
The F.C. Pollara Group is slated to open and run Mango Bar and Grill at Sea Island.
The Group's Web site mentions R. Harvey Sasso, CEO of Coastal Systems International, who is involved in the planning of Phase II of Frederiksted's renovation, and Richard Lockhart, president Best Construction, Sunny Isles, who is general contractor for the project on the boardwalk, as partners in the development team.
Their Web page says, "We are never on island time, but rather are committed to construction cost management where time is always of the essence. As seasoned developers and investors, we are fully aware that time is money, and there is a huge mega-difference between island time and show time."
The new hotel includes 21 rooms owned by the government and 12 privately owned.
Diane Butler, president of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, said although the project is taking a long time to get done, "It is starting to look real good, and the government is to be commended for doing it."
She added that although she has reservations about the government being involved in running a hotel, "No one else was doing it."
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards is to be one of the speakers at the Chamber's meeting at the Cormorant next Tuesday at noon, and his topic is to be hotel development on St. Croix.
Butler said she expects him to provide an update on Sea Island, as well as William and Punch and other proposed developments.
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