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Anna's Hope Affordable Housing

 
Anonny-mouse
(@anonny-mouse)
Advanced Member

Has anyone else been following this one in the local news?

A proposed $24 million dollar housing project on St. Croix recently had its permits denied by DPNR, mostly because several well connected residents in the neighborhood said they were opposed to it, ie "Not in my backyard."

While taken at face value it may seem like a victory for the residents, it is a blow to the rest of us and the island economy.

This project was set to bring $24 million to the island.
It would have created around 175 construction jobs for the project duration, starting in January 2013.
It would have created several full time jobs following construction.
It would have provided affordable housing to 70 families- not in "project" type living situations. These apartments would have been nice, and very well maintained.

I understand that there will always be nay-sayers when it comes to progress, but it just seems to me that St. Croix could use more projects like this, especially in a down economy. I hope the residents who opposed the project understand fully what their victory in stopping this project has cost the island.

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Topic starter Posted : December 28, 2012 11:47 am
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

Oh yes...just what we need.

More high density housing projects.

Thankfully it was turned down.

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Posted : December 28, 2012 11:49 am
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

It's no guarantee those jobs would have gone to local residents, and with St Croix's declining population, is there really a need for more housing construction? They built an affordable community on St John a few years ago, and even with generous subsidies it took them forever to sell the units, and they may still have vacancies.

Many times what a developer defines as "affordable" is still beyond reach for many workers.

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Posted : December 28, 2012 1:05 pm
fdr
 fdr
(@fdr)
Trusted Member

They built an affordable community on St John a few years ago, and even with generous subsidies it took them forever to sell the units, and they may still have vacancies.

Last I heard there are still vacancies. The biggest problem with the Calabash apartments' success was location, followed by construction quality and timing of the real estate bubble burst. The development is a 10 minute drive to the tiny village of Coral Bay, 40 minutes to Cruz Bay, and if you don't have a car you're relying on the very unreliable public transportation system or hitching rides. The walls of the units are paper-thin, and the developer pulled up stakes before finishing all of the things they claimed they were going to do, like add space for kids to play.

Our other affordable housing community on St John is actually very nice -- a well-laid-out group of duplexes, lots of green space, and a really gorgeous view from some of the units. It's also just a 10-minute drive from Cruz Bay (although not accessible by public transportation, it's much easier to walk if you have to). Not surprising, a long waiting list there.

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Posted : December 28, 2012 2:43 pm
Anonny-mouse
(@anonny-mouse)
Advanced Member

vicanuck- I get the sarcasm, but I have been in some of these newer projects. They house police officers, nurses, bankers, school teachers, etc, regular working people who keep the wheels of this island turning. These people don't want to live in the "projects" either. The newer housing projects seem to be more like managed apartments or condos than traditional "projects", with fairly stringent requirements for who can get in, and what it takes to stay in. I would be interested in hearing what you propose for ways to ensure working class people can have decent housing here where the cost of living is so high.

Ms411- it is my understanding that the contractor in line to build this project is known for hiring local residents specifically. Isn't GEC's tagline in the radio "building the Virgin Islands with Virgin Islanders" ?
As far as filling the units, I had friends living in Calabash Boom on St John. I do remember the townhouses took a while to sell, but the rental units filled up fairly quickly. On STT and STX I think there is usually a waiting list for people to get in.

I understand both of your viewpoints, I just think that this project would have benefitted the island far more than it would hurt it. With or without Anna's Hope there would still be housing dotting the island, the difference being that with it, our economy would get an added little economic boost at a time when every little bit counts.

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Topic starter Posted : December 28, 2012 2:53 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

What the Virgin Islands needs is more jobs in diversified industries.

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Posted : December 28, 2012 9:41 pm
gonetropo
(@gonetropo)
Advanced Member

Anonny-mouse

Now tell me that if this 'affordable housing', later to become another 'project' was in your backyard, that you would be waving in the construciton equipment to begin building. Just take a look at the 'affordable housing' on this island that has been here for more than a few years and you can surely understand why the residents in Anna Hope were not enthused about it. We are not to far from one of the 'affordable housing' complexes and hear gun shots with automatic weapons nearly daily coming from these fine residences.

We need employment so that these folks can afford regular housing and not government subsidized housing!

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Posted : December 29, 2012 5:57 pm
Anonny-mouse
(@anonny-mouse)
Advanced Member

We need employment so that these folks can afford regular housing and not government subsidized housing!

I absolutely agree with the first three words in this quote. We do need employment, especially now. Turning away a development project like this effectively eliminates a couple hundred direct construction jobs that would have been filled, not counting boosts in sales to local businesses, etc. If there were more projects of this magnitude being built every year, unemployment would be noticeably less.

I find the second part of your quote interesting. If we were stateside I would agree with you, but here things are different on many levels. In the States, "regular housing" can be purchased much, much cheaper. There are multitudes of houses for sale around the +/- $100k range that folks making $35k/year can afford. Here, houses start at twice that range and go up rapidly. Add in WAPA, windstorm insurance and across the board higher living costs, and the income needed to get into regular home ownership doubles compared to the States. Unfortunately wages here are not double those in the states. This is why these newer affordable housing communities, which are only open to employed persons with three years verifiable income, are actually needed here. In many cases these privately managed subsidized apartments are the most realistic housing option for regular folk with regular jobs looking to avoid the older, run down, government managed projects to which you refer.

Do I want it in my backyard? No, no one ever does when it comes to development, whether it is a housing project or an oil refinery or a hotel or a gas station or a school or a hospital or a grocery store or even a residential house. That said, we the people can't complain about the state of things regarding the local economy and at the same time turn away investors ready to spend money. Every single thing that happens here for better or worse happens in someone's "backyard". The island is too small for it not to. That doesn't mean nothing should ever get built here again. The expression about how in order to make an omlet you have to crack a few eggs remains to be true. For many of the stalled projects on island, I think it might be time to start cracking.

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Topic starter Posted : December 30, 2012 9:25 am
Anonny-mouse
(@anonny-mouse)
Advanced Member

Reading back, I am going to go ahead and apologize in advance for getting all preachy on y'all. I definitely get all of your points, and I am not necessarily one to say what is best or not for the island. I am just curious if the reactions would be the same from the community if the residents of Anna's Hope had successfully halted a proposed wind or solar farm project for the same reason rather than an apartment complex from which only hundreds of people stood to benefit from.

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Topic starter Posted : December 30, 2012 9:48 am
divinggirl
(@divinggirl)
Trusted Member

I agree that we need more jobs. What ever happened to the resort projects that were ready to go? The Amalago (sp?) Bay/Williams & Punch project was to bring hundreds of construction jobs and also hundreds of post construction jobs. That would also provide more hotel rooms and a destination for people visiting. The airlines continue to reduce the number of flights and will not increase them until we have more rooms to fill. I will be the first to admit that I didn't not closely follow that project but it was my understanding that it was fully funded so what happened to it? Government interference? Environmental interference? The islands need to become more development friendly and stop putting so many roadblocks up when it comes to new projects.

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Posted : December 30, 2012 11:56 am
gonetropo
(@gonetropo)
Advanced Member

I agree that we need more jobs. What ever happened to the resort projects that were ready to go? The Amalago (sp?) Bay/Williams & Punch project was to bring hundreds of construction jobs and also hundreds of post construction jobs. That would also provide more hotel rooms and a destination for people visiting. The airlines continue to reduce the number of flights and will not increase them until we have more rooms to fill. I will be the first to admit that I didn't not closely follow that project but it was my understanding that it was fully funded so what happened to it? Government interference? Environmental interference? The islands need to become more development friendly and stop putting so many roadblocks up when it comes to new projects.

If this was STT and not STX, all of those projects would be full speed ahead. Just thank the government who patronize STT and all the environmental do goodies for having no new resorts in 30 years! It's disgusting!

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Posted : December 30, 2012 5:00 pm
Beeski
(@beeski)
Trusted Member

If this was STT and not STX, all of those projects would be full speed ahead. Just thank the government who patronize STT and all the environmental do goodies for having no new resorts in 30 years! It's disgusting!

Its not the "environmental do goodies" holding up William & Punch, its the Federal Government, EPA, Army Corps of Engineers.
The EPA is also partially responsible for Hovensa closing.
If you want to direct anger at someone....look no further than the EPA.

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Posted : December 31, 2012 3:57 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Yes, look no further than the EPA who is protecting your health, the the quality of the air that you breathe and the quality of the rain water you gather in your cisterns amongst other things.
Thank goodness!

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Posted : December 31, 2012 5:26 pm
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