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Thursday, August 18, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesBUILDINGS IN PARADISE NEED ATTENTION

BUILDINGS IN PARADISE NEED ATTENTION

Sometimes one has to step back from a situation to be able to make a more objective and realistic observation. So it was for me when I returned to St. Thomas in August after some years' absence, to attend a reunion of the All Saints Cathedral School Class of 1974. After driving around the island for several days, I concluded that the changes which have taken place in the landscape are generally not for the better.
What struck me most was the number of — to be frank — ugly new commercial buildings I saw, particularly in the Tutu area. I got the feeling that these cinder block structures were just dropped from the sky, like Dorothy's Kansas house which landed in the magical land of Oz.
These developments are disappointing because they suggest that further relaxation is taking place of the vigilance required to keep the island truly looking like a paradise. If true, this is most unfortunate, because the island's economy is predicated in large measure on its visual beauty.
These buildings did not have to look like warehouses in urban America. Good taste and architectural sensitivity could have been employed — and should have been required. Commercial buildings should be visual assets to the island, not eyesores.
I also noted a lot of unoccupied older buildings in disrepair in downtown Charlotte Amalie. Most did not look as if they were going to be undergoing restoration in the near future. As they stand, these properties are a visual deficit to the eye in the capital of the American Paradise.
Older buildings reflect the history and architectural traditions of a community, particularly in a place like St. Thomas. Restoring such structures to aesthetic standards and a utilitarian state will be costly. But, in the long run, the price will be higher to the community and to the territory's image if these buildings are left to crumble and decay.
Interested and committed citizens working together can find ways to develop plans and marshal resources required to save crumbling historic structures in the downtown area.
The same kind of energy should also be invested in ensuring that any commercial structure built anywhere in the territory is in architectural harmony with the natural beauty surrounding it. Otherwise, commercial development will soon make these islands look like a South Florida industrial park. It won't happen overnight, but on some parts of St. Thomas it has clearly already begun.
Editors' note: Allan Paul Shatkin is a former Virgin Islands senator.

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Sometimes one has to step back from a situation to be able to make a more objective and realistic observation. So it was for me when I returned to St. Thomas in August after some years' absence, to attend a reunion of the All Saints Cathedral School Class of 1974. After driving around the island for several days, I concluded that the changes which have taken place in the landscape are generally not for the better.
What struck me most was the number of -- to be frank -- ugly new commercial buildings I saw, particularly in the Tutu area. I got the feeling that these cinder block structures were just dropped from the sky, like Dorothy's Kansas house which landed in the magical land of Oz.
These developments are disappointing because they suggest that further relaxation is taking place of the vigilance required to keep the island truly looking like a paradise. If true, this is most unfortunate, because the island's economy is predicated in large measure on its visual beauty.
These buildings did not have to look like warehouses in urban America. Good taste and architectural sensitivity could have been employed -- and should have been required. Commercial buildings should be visual assets to the island, not eyesores.
I also noted a lot of unoccupied older buildings in disrepair in downtown Charlotte Amalie. Most did not look as if they were going to be undergoing restoration in the near future. As they stand, these properties are a visual deficit to the eye in the capital of the American Paradise.
Older buildings reflect the history and architectural traditions of a community, particularly in a place like St. Thomas. Restoring such structures to aesthetic standards and a utilitarian state will be costly. But, in the long run, the price will be higher to the community and to the territory's image if these buildings are left to crumble and decay.
Interested and committed citizens working together can find ways to develop plans and marshal resources required to save crumbling historic structures in the downtown area.
The same kind of energy should also be invested in ensuring that any commercial structure built anywhere in the territory is in architectural harmony with the natural beauty surrounding it. Otherwise, commercial development will soon make these islands look like a South Florida industrial park. It won't happen overnight, but on some parts of St. Thomas it has clearly already begun.
Editors' note: Allan Paul Shatkin is a former Virgin Islands senator.