Nov. 17, 2003 – IN-USVI, which owns the old Yacht Haven Hotel and Marina and intends to renovate that property while also developing adjacent filled land leased from The West Indian Co., announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement with the citizens' group that had been challenging its Coastal Zone Management permit to do so.
IN-USVI distributed a release headlined "IN-USVI, LLC and Save Long Bay Coalition reach agreement to clear legal hurdles for Yacht Haven restoration and improve Charlotte Amalie." According to the release, the two entities and also WICO have reached agreement that will "clear the way for work to begin on the long-anticipated Yacht Haven project."
The release stated that IN-USVI will work with the coalition "to improve areas surrounding Long Bay" and "will put well over $300,000 toward improvements to park and public housing properties around the Yacht Haven project, including substantial funding for improvements to the Lucinda Millin Home and Paul M. Pearson Gardens." These anticipated improvements include tennis courts and other recreational facilities, landscaped public spaces and improved public access to the waterfront, the release said.
Further, "IN-USVI has agreed to protect the historical character of Charlotte Amalie and [to] restrict 25,000 square feet of the planned retail space for shops that are not competitive with tourist-oriented downtown retailers," the release stated. The retail plans are for the approximately 7.5 acres of filled land leased from WICO.
Additionally, the release said, "IN-USVI will contribute $150,000 to improving historic downtown Charlotte Amalie, with a focus on keeping all of downtown thriving." The company said that Armour Enterprises and the Save Long Bay Coalition "will help raise matching funds from downtown businesses and work with IN-USVI to organize the improvement efforts."
And SBLC for its part, the release stated, "has agreed to drop all legal action against IN-USVI and is in agreement that there appear to be no material legal issues that the project must overcome."
The battle between the coalition and IN-USVI over Long Bay was joined in June, when Helen Gjessing, coalition president, said the group was considering a challenge of the development project's CZM permit, which covered the Yacht Haven property, the filled land and submerged lands in Long Bay. The coalition filed an appeal with the Board of Land Use Appeals in July, and when the board upheld the CZM, the coalition appealed to Territorial Court in September.
On Oct. 10, that appeal was rejected in Territorial Court. The ruling by Judge Rhys Hodge came on a petition from IN-USVI arguing that the coalition's appeal paperwork lacked a required document known as a Certification of Attorney. The coalition at that point had vowed to appeal the judge's ruling, too. (See "Long Bay group's appeal rejected on technicality".)
Although IN-USVI engaged a group of young people to paint artwork in early July on a wall along Long Bay Road erected to protect the public from demolition work on the old hotel grounds, IN-USVI spokesman Elie Finegold said repeatedly throughout the coalition's challenges that the company would not proceed with actual work on the properties until all possible legal barriers had been removed. (See "IN-USVI accused coalition of 'frivolous appeal'".)
Monday's IN-USVI release quoted Gjessing as saying that "the members of SLBC were very pleased to find that IN-USVI is a developer with a commitment to improving the historic waterfront. Their enthusiasm for community involvement has proven to be very compatible with our hopes for Long Bay and the historical and cultural value of not only the waterfront, but downtown Charlotte Amalie. We are looking forward to working hand in hand with them for a long time to come."
Finegold, executive vice president of IN-USVI, said that the company is "very excited to have partnered with the Save Long Bay Coalition in moving this project forward, and in agreeing on a package of additional projects that will improve all of St. Thomas."
He continued: "The members of the SLBC have long been passionate advocates for public and private improvements to Long Bay and the historic downtown Charlotte Amalie, and now through the Yacht Haven restoration and community improvement projects, those dreams can become a reality."
The release also quoted Edward E. Thomas Sr., chief executive of The West Indian Co., as saying that the compromise represents a major step forward in the development of the harbor. "WICO is thrilled that the full support of the community is behind a development that will bring great benefits to the government, economy and people of the Virgin Islands," Thomas was quoted as saying.
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