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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Freshly back in the territory after a week in Washington, D.C., Gov. Charles W. Turnbull used the groundbreaking ceremony for a major Ritz-Carlton Hotel expansion Friday on St. Thomas's East End as a forum to dig into those politicians who opposed the project and other private-sector initiatives in the territory.
In Washington, he said, he pledged to federal officials that the Virgin Islands would "streamline the public sector and grow the private sector."
Calling Friday with its Ritz-Carlton groundbreaking "a progressive day for the Virgin Islands" and re-emphazing his pro-growth stance, the governor said, "The only way we are going to move ahead in the Virgin Islands is to grow the private sector, to be investor friendly." But, he added, "There's too much opposition to the various projects we have."
He cited particularly the resistance to the resort acquiring a small section of little-used public road that passes through the property for the Ritz-Carlton expansion and also the pending privatization of the Water and Power Authority. He said, "We are not going to move ahead in the Virgin Islands if we have opposition to everything."
Calling for "the support of the entire community," Turnbull added, "We don't intend to sell the islands out to anyone, but . . . there's no way out of this economic morass but to downsize the public sector and grow the private sector." He pledged, "From now on, I'm going to be more forceful in this . . . to show the outside world that we mean business."
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg was the most vocal opponent of the government turning the strip of road over to the resort. The move was also opposed by some area residents and civic and environmental groups who challenged the project's Coastal Zone Management permit and by those concerned about public access to Bluebeard's Beach, although another road is more used for that purpose.
The project, priced at $75 million, will add a new Ritz-Carlton Club consisting of 80 residential time-share units, plus 48 more guest rooms and suites and a health spa/recreation center to the hotel's offerings. General manager Carter Donovan said construction is to begin in July and the overall project is expected to take about two years. Meantime, she said, the existing hotel rooms will get new decor and furnishings for the start of next season.
Ritz-Carlton Club marketing and sales director William Coker said about two-thirds of the units put on the market for pre-construction sale have been purchased, for about $6 million all told.

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