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Calabash Boom Targeted Next for Affordable Housing

July 6, 2004 – Plans are firming up for an affordable housing project at Calabash Boom on St. John's southeastern end. It would front on Route 107 on land where the V.I. government-owned building known as the Clinic is located.
The eight-acre project is slated to include six two-story townhouse buildings with four units each, for a total of 24 units. They will be available for purchase by qualified buyers. The V.I. Housing Finance Authority is responsible for this part of the project.
The project also is to include four buildings of 12 rental unit each, for a total of 48 apartments ranging in size from one to four bedrooms. These are to be built by Reliance Housing Foundation.
"Just like Lovenlund," Robert O. Jackson, Reliance president, said, referring to an affordable housing project completed this year on St. Thomas. (See the St. Thomas Source report "Ribbon Cutting Opens Apartments at Lovenlund".)
He said work at Calabash Boom could start as early as next spring.
He said RR Caribbean will build the townhouses for the V.I. Housing Authority and Reliance will build the apartments. However, he said, Reliance will handle the organizational work for both parts of the development.
Apartment rents will range from $623 to $722 per month. The townhouses will be priced around $115,000 to $120,000, according to Clifford Graham, Housing Finance Authority director.
The maximum allowable annual income for apartment tenants will range from $22,860 for a single person up to $43,080 for a family of eight. Occupancy is limited to two people per bedroom.
When Reliance's tax credit for building affordable housing runs out in 15 years, the apartment lease holders will have the right to buy their apartments at below-market prices.
Reliance's part of the project is expected to cost $15.7 million.
The Legislature has appropriated $480,000 for the Housing Finance Authority portion, Graham said.
Efforts to reach Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd for more information on the funding were unsuccessful.
The townhouses and apartments will share infrastructure, including a wastewater treatment plant, reverse osmosis plant, community building, computer center and playground.
The project needs the approval of the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee and the Legislature. Graham said he hopes to get that process under way by October.
Jackson said plans call for the three-story apartment buildings to be set into the hillside so that only the upper two levels will be above grade. "We're not going to block anybody's view," he said.
Reliance also plans to relocate the dirt road that runs alongside the Clinic to a location east of the project, Jackson said. The new, paved road will provide access for the residents of private homes located uphill from the affordable housing development.
Jackson said the project will probably be named after the location, Calabash Boom.
St. John Administrator Julien Harley said the fact that prices are "way up yonder" on St. John has put available housing beyond the reach of many residents. "We need it," he said of the planned East End development. "There's no question about it."
Graham agreed. He said that the last housing demand study done by the authority showed a huge need in St. John.
The island has two existing affordable housing projects — an apartment complex located behind the V.I. National Park Visitor Center and George Simmonds Terrace on Centerline Road. A third, Bellevue Village Apartments on Gifft Hill Road, is under construction. (See "Bellevue Affordable Housing 'Only the Beginning'".) Reliance also is building the Bellevue Village units.
Sharon Coldren, president of the Coral Bay Community Council, said she needed to consult with the organization's board before issuing a statement on the Calabash Boom plans.
She said Jackson and Graham have agreed to meet with the council board to discuss the project. Jackson and Graham confirmed that such a meeting is in the works.

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