This is an Accessible Letter to 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.
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 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 General Fund, which covers amount and added circadian expenses, but through the Public Finance Authority, whose authorization is to accomplish bread-and-er advance action in the territory.)
According to the Bureau of Bread-and-er Research, there were 2,915 auberge apartment and 818 address and timeshare units for a absolute of 3,730 accessible apartment in the St. Thomas-St. John commune at the end of 2016. As a aftereffect of the hurricanes, unofficially according to the auberge association, alone 50 percent of the account of apartment accept arise aback online as of this date, or almost 1,865 rooms. The closures accept had a adverse aftereffect on our economy, employment, auberge allowance tax accumulating and day-tripper spending in our bounded economy.
Our premiere hotel, the Marriott’s Frenchman’s Reef, has yet to advertise a close date for reopening. The Ritz- Carlton has adumbrated its plan is to accessible in backward 2019. The bearings with Caneel Bay Resort 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 bristles years.
Finance Commissioner Valdamier Collens in his Senate affidavit on July 20 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 2012-14, the Hyatt association proposed a mega-resort in the Mandahl Bay breadth with a proposed advance in the hundreds of millions. There was boundless action based on ecology apropos from homeowners. The Senate at the time did not accredit the accord adjourned amid Hyatt and the government of the Virgin Islands, and Hyatt ultimately absolved away. That auberge was in actuality congenital on St. Kitts and now contributes to the abridgement of that island.
Yacht Haven Grande has proposed architecture a branded 125-room 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, arch controlling administrator of IGY Marinas, the auberge will advance to a minimum of 35 to 50 abiding new jobs. The auberge allowance ante are appointed to be $200 plus, which is an acutely adorable amount point and will absolutely accompany new travelers to the territory.
In his July 20 Senate testimony, 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 personnel, rental car agencies, fishing and dive charters, and endless added segments of the community’s alimentation that will depend anon or alongside on this new auberge project.
Yacht Haven Grande is partnering with Polcom Group, a European company, for the architecture project. According to Mukamal, Polcom is a “leader in modular architecture in the accommodation industry.” As a result, the auberge could be congenital in a 14- to 18-month accelerated timetable. The modular artefact is congenital off -island and accumulated on site.
Mukamal goes on to 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 build-out. This action is already acceptable and advertise accessible with no ecology concerns.
The government of the Virgin Islands has proposed to accomplish a $10 actor interest-bearing accommodation to the developer to accomplish the territory’s cardinal ambition of new auberge construction.
According to the appellation sheet, the government of the Virgin Islands will accept 5 percent of the net banknote breeze of the auberge as able-bodied as the rights to 7 percent of the profits, if or aloft a auction of the auberge afterwards the government accommodation is repaid with interest.
Commissioner Collens declared in his Senate testimony, “This is not a handout. The government will advance $10 actor in barter for a promissory agenda on agreement beneath which the government’s basic will be repaid first.”
The government 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 high-risk ambiance as a aftereffect of acclimate disturbances, which can abort an island’s 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 cost, which is about a Water and Power Authority tax on businesses and individuals. Sky-high allowance premiums add added challenges to a business’s adeptness to accomplish profitably. It is in this ambience that Yacht Haven Grande has asked the government of the Virgin Islands to accomplice with them and accept bark in the game. They accept additionally declared that afterwards this loan, the action will not go forward.
Since 2005, Yacht Haven Grande has invested in balance of $100 actor into the Virgin Islands economy. The acreage is able-bodied maintained and an important allotment of our affection of action and economy, and it 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 fundraisers 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, Yacht Haven Grande has absent money, according to CEO Mukamal. A auberge on acreage would be a d banker for Yacht Haven Grande and would acquiesce them to abate the acreage and 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 Senate 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 back-to-back hurricanes.
Investment 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 private-public auberge ventures.
We would respectfully ask the senators of the 32nd Legislature to vote yes to the $10 actor accommodation appeal from Yacht Haven Grande.
Let’s vote yes to abundance by acceptance this ytical basement action to go forward.
— Associates of the Port of Charlotte Amalie Cruise Ship Task Force: Richard Berry, Filippo Cassinelli, Michael Creque, Vivek Daswani, Pash Daswani and John Woods.
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