Gov. Kenneth Mapp delivered a bill to the Legislature Friday to fund the professional services and reports related to development and financing of a hotel project on St. Croix, according to Government House.
In a statement issued Monday, Government House said the administration believes "a first class resort affiliated with an internationally known brand is what’s needed to attract the flights and commerce necessary to truly develop the big island’s tourism industry."
The administration plans next week to name members of a transaction team, made up of public and private sector experts, to put together a deal with a major hotel brand. To help pay for expenses related to the hoped-for development project, Mapp is asking the Legislature for $1 million, asking it to reprogram funds previously authorized for litigation with the Hess Corporation over the Hovensa refinery.
Meanwhile, the Legislature is also fielding several multi-million dollar funding requests from the Department of Education, the territory’s hospitals and other agencies.
“It is the intent of my administration to pursue a development arrangement with one of the top nationally recognized names in the hotel industry to develop, build and operate a first class, full service luxury resort with a minimum of 250 rooms,” the governor wrote in his transmittal letter to Senate President Neville James. “The $1 million I am asking you to reprogram, will not build the resort, but it will allow us the resources to upgrade the destination study, create the plans and program strategy, acquire the professional and legal services and generate the necessary business partnership for the project. Once this is complete, I hope to forward a package to the legislature to advance such a project," Mapp said.
He said he is convinced "an upscale luxury resort for St. Croix would be in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands, and will spur economic recovery on the island. Without a doubt, this project would bring much needed jobs, visitors, additional airlift capacity and new revenues into our economy.”
Mapp is expected to speak about economic development initiatives at the February 11 meeting of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce.