Dear Honorable Senators of the 32ND Legislature of the Virgin Islands:
The Port of Charlotte Amalie Cruise Ship Task Force associates abutment the proposed auberge action at Yacht Haven Grande (YHG). While there is compatible abutment and acceptance in the affiliation of the charge for added hotels in the St. Thomas-St. John district, some associates of the affiliation and politicians accept bidding action to the agreement of the accord and questioned why the Virgin Islands Government (GVI) would accommodation the developer $10 actor to move advanced with this action aback the Government has so abounding outstanding debt obligations. (It should be acclaimed the accommodation would not arise out of the accepted armamentarium which covers amount and added day to day expenses, but through the Accessible Finance Authority whose authorization is to accomplish bread-and-er advance action in the territory.)
According to the Bureau of Bread-and-er ysis there were 2915 auberge apartment and 818 address and time allotment units for a absolute of 3730 accessible apartment in the STT/ STJ commune at the end of 2016. AS a aftereffect of the hurricanes, unofficially according to the auberge affiliation alone fifty percent of the account of apartment accept arise aback on band as of this date, or almost 1865 rooms. These closures accept had a devasting aftereffect on our economy, employment, auberge allowance tax collection, and day-tripper spending in our bounded economy.
Our premiere hotel, the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, has yet to advertise a close date for re-opening; the Ritz Carlton has adumbrated its plan to accessible backward 2019. The bearings with Caneel Bay has been able-bodied accurate in the media, and it would arise that this iconic acreage will not reopen according to the developer unless the charter is continued above 5 years.
Commissioner Valddamier O. Collens in his contempo assembly affidavit July 20, 2018 said: “private advance has bootless to aftermath a distinct new auberge acreage in the breadth aback about 1990. The economics accept artlessly not worked.” In 2012-2014 the Hyatt Corporation proposed a mega resort in Mandal Bay breadth with a proposed advance in the hundreds of millions. There was boundless action based on ecology apropos from home owners. The assembly at the time did not accredit the accord adjourned amid Hyatt and the GVI, and Hyatt ultimately absolved away. That auberge was in actuality congenital on the island of St. Kitt’s and now contributes to the abridgement of that island.
YHG has proposed architecture a branded 125 allowance hotel, the aboriginal new auberge architecture in 30 years. It is best acceptable a Hilton acreage with a roof accouter overlooking the harbor. According to Tom Mukamal Chief Executive administrator of IGY Marinas the auberge will advance to a minimum of 35-50 abiding new jobs. The auberge allowance ante are appointed to be $200 additional dollars which is an acutely adorable amount point and will absolutely accompany new travelers to the territory. In his July 20, 2018 assembly affidavit Mukamal conservatively estimates that the addition to the bounded abridgement will be at a minimum $8,400,000 including auberge allowance tax, bedfellow spending on the island, and gross receipts taxes paid by bounded merchants on sales to guests. Added beneficiaries accommodate auto drivers, delay staff, bout operators, bounded aliment and cooler vendors, auberge adjustment and aliment personal, rental cars agencies, fishing and dive charters and endless added segments of the community’s alimentation will depend anon or alongside on this new auberge project.
YHG is partnering with Polcom Group a European aggregation for the architecture project. According to Mukamel Polcom is a “leader in modular architecture in the accommodation industry” As a aftereffect the auberge could be congenital in a 14-18 ages accelerated timetable. The modular artefact is congenital off island and accumulated on site. Mukamal goes assimilate say the modules are “CAT 5 rated and accordingly has ample account in the Caribbean Market”. This action has a proposed account of $38 actor and will actualize architecture jobs for the continuance of the body out. This action is already acceptable and advertise accessible with no ecology concerns.
The Government has proposed to accomplish a $10 actor dollar absorption address accommodation to the developer to accomplish the Territory’s cardinal ambition of new auberge construction. According to the appellation sheet, the GVI will accept 5% of the net banknote breeze of the auberge as able-bodied as the rights to 7% of the profits if or aloft a auction of the auberge afterwards the GVI’s accommodation is repaid with interest. Commissioner Collens declared in his assembly testimony, “this is not a duke out. The Government will advance ten actor in barter for a promissory note, on agreement beneath which the Government’s basic will be repaid first”. The GVI accommodation will be anchored with a aboriginal antecedence mortgage adjoin the auberge and the acreage the auberge is congenital upon. The accessory for this accommodation is abundant and the accident agency is marginal.
Lending institutions see the USVI and Caribbean as a aerial accident ambiance as a aftereffect of acclimate disturbances which can abort an islands abridgement brief as apparent by the furnishings of hurricanes Irma and Maria throughout the region. Furthermore, Architecture costs are exorbitant, as is the acutely aerial action costs, which is about a Wapa tax on businesses and individuals. Sky aerial Insurance premiums add added challenges to a business’s adeptness to accomplish profitably. It is in this ambience that YHG has asked the GVI to accomplice with them and accept bark in the game. They accept additionally declared afterwards this accommodation the action will not go forward.
Since 2005 Yacht Haven Grand has invested in balance of $100 actor dollars into the Virgin Islands economy. The acreage is able-bodied maintained and an important allotment of our affection of action and economy, and has helped accompany aback the abyssal and yacht industry, admitting seasonally. On any accustomed night locals and visitors can be apparent dinning or appliance on the acreage or arcade in the retail outlets. They are a acceptable accumulated aborigine who acquiesce nonprofit armamentarium raisers to occur, art arcade shows, farmer’s bazaar events, concerts and added affiliation activities. However, as a aftereffect of the all-around recession and added factors YHG has absent money according to Mr. Mukamal Chief Executive Officer. A auberge on acreage would be a d banker for YHG and would acquiesce them to abate the property, allure new tenants and food to the island. The allowances to the USVI of a new auberge with account to job creation, new auberge allowance taxes, bedfellow spending, and added company arrivals are obvious, and anytime so ytical at a time aback our auberge allowance account is acutely diminished.
We achievement the assembly will absolutely abutment and accredit this agitative business opportunity. We charge to accelerate a bulletin to the all-around markets that the Virgin Islands is open, business affable and accessible to accomplish deals, afterwards the confusion of two aback to aback hurricanes. Advance leads to added advance and an advancement aeon of growth, bread-and-er action and job creation. Government abutment of auberge development projects is not aberrant in the region, the adjoining island of Puerto Rico has a cardinal of such clandestine / accessible auberge ventures.
We would respectfully ask the Senators of the 32nd Legislature to vote yes to the $10 actor dollar accommodation appeal from YHG. Let’s vote yes to Prosperity by acceptance this ytical basement action to go forward.
Respectfully,Richard Berry, Filippo Cassinelli, Michael Creque, Vivek Daswani, Pash Daswani and John Woods
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