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Friday, June 21, 2024
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CZM Committee Approves Havensight Hotel

Detailed plans for foundational piles and beams in what would be a 126-room hotel at the Havensight Mall on St. Thomas. (Screenshot of CZM presentation)

Developers of a planned hotel at St. Thomas’ Havensight Mall cleared an important hurdle Wednesday night as Coastal Zone Management Committee members gave the project a nod.

The five-story, 126-room, 71,040-square-foot hotel would include 131 parking spaces. Stretched over two parcels in Estate Thomas, the project includes in-house power production with built-in backups and redundancies, and is meant to be off-grid, said Jeffrey Boschulte, a project architect. He estimated the hotel would require 125,000-kilowatt hours generated by six micro-turbines, with space for a seventh if needed.

Margaritaville and Magens Junction have similar power generation systems, Boschulte said.

Getting CZM approval required submitting detailed plans and multiple site visits. In an episode of high drama earlier Wednesday, committee members nearly blocked creation of a 6-foot by 8-foot handicap-accessible bathroom at American Yacht Harbor because they hadn’t conducted a site visit — despite having plans on hand for six months. The project, strongly recommended by the District Attorney’s Office, only required converting a rarely used breezeway into a restroom. After much discussion, the toilet was eventually approved.

Despite research on the hotel project, two sticking points Wednesday night were its power generation capabilities, as well as piles and beams needed to secure the building’s foundation. After some discussion, the four committee members present approved the project with 16 conditions, including getting additional needed permits, erosion and sediment controls, and that developers provide details of their lighting plan.

CZM also approved a new 4,000-square-foot warehouse in Crown Bay for Carib Supply to replace the one knocked down by 2017’s Hurricane Irma and blown away completely by Hurricane Maria two weeks later. The committee also approved a fuel storage facility for Standard Aviation, LLC near Cyril E. King Airport.

The Havensight hotel — to be operated under Hilton’s Hampton brand — had been contemplated since at least 2017. Land used for the hotel is owned by the Government Employees’ Retirement System. GERS will not invest in the hotel but lease the property to the hotel developers — a point of confusion that resulted in an ALL CAPS clarification from the retirement system in March 2022.

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