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Mandahl Bay Hotel project  

 

East Ender
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November 8, 2014 4:17 pm  

http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/mandahl-bay-development-plans-are-back-bigger-1.1784142

I remember when Mark Small was trying to develop this area as upscale home plots several years ago. Evidently he died, and a new group (also out of Dallas) has increased the scope tremendously. Well, these things come up every once in a while, but seem to stall for years. Remember: Thatch Cay, Hans Lollick, Lionstone Cabrita project, Dolphin Cove, Green Cay...


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Alana33
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November 8, 2014 4:27 pm  

See my comment on the monarch environmental thread.

This is my comment on the visource article on this new mandahl bay project.

This hotel and marina plan for this location at Mandahl Bay has always had local opposition. A marina in this location on the north side is a stupid idea given the sea conditions it is exposed to and wetland and endangered Mangroves that are in the area, not to mention fragile marine life this project will disrupt and damage maybe to the point of extinction.

I did not realize that our hotels, vacation rentals and other tourist accommodations were so packed to capacity and overflowing that we needed another ill advised hotel and marina project. Especially considering than yacht haven grande sits mostly empty 3/4s of the year and CZM just permitted the Summers End mega marina project which will forever change Coral Bay over huge local objections from a majority of St. John residents.

How about cleaning up our roadsides and fixing them, getting a comprehensive recycling program started (WMA has had 8 years and offers of free professional help to do this and failed miserably), begin protecting our natural marine environment which is what attracts tourists to begin with, fixing our crumbling infrastructure and bring down the cost of electricity to acceptable, affordable levels which would in return bring down the excessively high cost of living we all must endure, getting affordable health care for the general public and having a safe, crime free environment. That would attract tourists and bring in more year round residents.

Tourists don't come to our islands to see trash lining our roads, everywhere they look and they certainly don't see that at other island destinations nor where they come from.

Building more hotels and marinas is not going to attract tourists when the ones we presently have can't do so and aren't filled to capacity year round.

We need to begin to protect our natural resources before it's too late and have a clean, safe, affordable product to offer to both tourists and residents.


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OldTart
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November 8, 2014 5:05 pm  

I agree with EE. It seems to be common practice here for developers to buy up land, submit development proposals and then sit on the property for a while as land value increases. They turn around and sell at a nice profit to the next "wannabee developer" who then does the same thing - and so the cycle continues.

As EE points out, the Mandahl project is just one of many similar.


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caribstx
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November 10, 2014 12:17 pm  

We'll take it over here on STX if you guys don't want it!


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Alana33
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November 10, 2014 1:07 pm  

You're welcome to it.

The location has many issues with it and not appropriate for this type of mega resort complex, much less a marina. North shore of Stt is extremely rough during the winter with high seas and often at many other times of the year. The coral species located in the bay, have been documented in the past to include many on noaa' s endangered and threatened list, mangroves are protected and not allowed to be cut, removed, etc., The road to the location is adventurous, to say the least, homeowners in surrounding location will be impacted negatively and lose their natural views and quiet which is why they bought and built in this location. The project will need to be dependent on providing its own power, water and sewage systems because our infrastructure cannot handle the additional loads.
The list goes on.

I may add that I had to drive along the waterfront yesterday and looked over at the yacht haven grande marina, with the majority of its docks and slips sitting empty as they do 8-9 months out of the year.

The permitting of these projects by CZM is a joke and a golden parachute for those planning on lining their personal bank accounts.
Hotels don't attract tourists, having a clean, safe, affordable, attractive and natural environment does.

So does having clean water to swim in and live corals and thriving reef systems.


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caribstx
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November 10, 2014 3:41 pm  

Beyond all the NIMBY issues you brought up, I'm surprised that you hadn't mentioned the impending rise in sea levels that will severely impact the VI over the next 50 - 100 years.


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STXBob
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November 10, 2014 3:48 pm  

The USVI has plenty of high ground.


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Alana33
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November 10, 2014 4:24 pm  

How about the ability of the entity to actually build such a resort.
Here's a portion of a copy of letter forwarded to me that was sent to ALL sitting senators.

To: judi ; dcapehart ; dcole ; kgittens ; cgraham ; ahansen ; mjackson ; senatormalone ; troach ; cpayne ; teamnellie ; smmalone1 ; jyoung ; payne.clarence ; sammuelsanes ; positive__1 ; craig ; edorsett
Sent: Mon, Nov 10, 2014 10:07 am

Subject: Really??? Transcontinental Realty Investors (TCI) as VI's new business partner at Mandahl Bay???

Dear Senators,

Can I just say to Governor de Jongh.... Really???
Transcontinental Realty Investors (TCI) as the Virgin Islands Government's new partner in business at the proposed hotel complex and marina at Mandahl Bay on St. Thomas???

It appears that the only type of recycling that the Virgin Islands knows how to do is to bring back the "Allen Stanfords" of the business world.... We really do seem to love those pirates of the Caribbean. And this outfit springs from Dallas, TX also, and formed where else... Nevada.

Here's how another article characterized this outfit....

"...ability to create the illusion of success and prosperity that deceived
the investing public with a self-portrait of ever-increasing profits, assets and
net worth,"

Please see attached, along with article below. There are many such pieces to cite in the news over the past 15 to 20 years about this company and its heads and affiliates.
(Alana 33 Note: the attached in the e-mail are in PDF format which I cannot copy to this forum posting but they are the results of the lawsuits filed by the armed forces, petra and wells fargo.)

Can we please... PLEASE... start vetting those with whom we might consider doing business? I think the people of the Virgin Islands deserve more respect, and fiscal responsibility.

[And of course. None of the above or attached even begins to address the ecological consequences to Mandahl Bay of this proposed development.]

This is from Jackson, MS.

The Jackson Free Press published a good story last week on Jackson's efforts to build a hotel next to the convention center. The city pushes a storyline of Jackson working with a reputable developer to revitalize downtown. The city acts as a partner with the developer. The developer builds a hotel for the convention center, and we all live happily ever after.

However, there are two sides to every story and the other side of this story is about the developer: Transcontinental Realty Investments (TCI). A company in deep financial trouble. A company charged by more than one lender of committing mortgage fraud.
A company thrown out of bankruptcy court twice this year after the lenders and trustee accused it of filing multiple bankruptcy petitions in bad faith. The company is leveraged at nearly 100% and lost $80 million last year. Several lenders sued TCI and its subsidiaries this year after TCI defaulted on nearly $100 million in loans. This is the company Jackson wants to make a partner in building a hotel.

The JFP reported:

"the city would partner with Transcontinental Realty Investors, or TCI, to build the hotel. Representatives from TCI said a convention center hotel will increase business at the Jackson Convention Complex and at downtown businesses."

"If the council adopts the plan, the city and TCI will issue $70.1 million in tax-exempt Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds through the Jackson Redevelopment Authority and $22.5 million in taxable bonds to help pay for the project. Total funding for the project would be $96.1 million...

Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell expressed concerns about the city guaranteeing the bonds and what would happen if TCI defaulted on its obligations, but Swerdling (City adviser) said that was unlikely. Whitwell also asked what would happen if the hotel did not do as well as they hoped..." Article

"Under the plan, the city would purchase land from TCI for $14.3 million. Either the city or JRA would then lease the land for the hotel to TCI to develop. Since the parcel of land is larger than would be needed for the hotel, the city could sell or develop the extra land around the hotel."

So the city issues bonds, pays $14.3 million to TCI, and jointly assumes the risk with TCI. Naturally the adviser assures Mr. Whitwell and the rest of the city council that everything will be fine. The risk is "manageable". You know, trust us.

Armed Forces Bank filed suit on March 9, 2011 against Transcontinental Realty Investors (TCI) and several companies owned by TCI. One of these companies is TCI MS Investments. Armed Forces Bank claimed it was owed $72,526,355 on a 2004 loan made to TCI. Armed Forces Bank accused TCI of transferring the title to the property purchased with the loan to a "straw" company on December 23, 2010. The straw company filed for bankruptcy on January 4, 2011.

TCI subsidiaries sold several properties to the "straw" company, FRE Real Estate on December 23, 2010. A TCI-owned company changed its name to FRE Real estate on the same day. The properties were secured by loans made by Armed Forces Bank. The plaintiff stated "the transfers and bankruptcy were without notice to Armed Forces" (p.30, paragraph 96).

Petra CRE made similar allegations in its own lawsuit filed on March 15, 2011 in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana against TCI. Petra stated it loaned the money to (TCI company) TCI Amaco on August 30, 2007 to purchase a commercial office building in New Orleans. Petra claims TIC owes $19,500,000 and the company played similar games in New Orleans after purchasing the property.

TCI purchased the building. TCI even signed an agreement with Petra stating tenants would make all rental payments directly to Petra.The shenanigans started in October 2010. Petra claims TCI notified the tenants to "make all rental payments" directly to the TCI-owned management company instead of Petra in violation of the agreement. TCI transferred ownership of the building to FRE on December 23, 2010 as well and recorded it with the Parish Clerk of Court. Once again, the lender said it was never notified of the transfer (Just think Claiborne Frazier, just on a larger scale) and saw its collateral vanish into the ledgers of the straw company.

FRE filed a bankruptcy petition in Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Texas on January 4, 2011. FRE listed the Amco building as one of its assets in the bankruptcy petition. The Dallas Business reported in January:

"FRE owns 29 land parcels, six office buildings, an apartment complex and two airplane hangars, with a combined value of $234.5 million, according to the company’s bankruptcy filings. FRE owes a total of $181.5 million on the properties, the company’s filings say. All except four of the properties are in North Texas.

FRE’s filings list more than 150 secured and unsecured creditors, including Armed Forces Bank NA and Wells Fargo Capital Finance Inc." Article

Petra, Armed Forces, and other lenders such as Wells Fargo objected to the petition and accused FRE of filing in bad faith. Wells Fargo also alleged FRE was created as a shell company. TCI subsidiaries transferred assets to FRE even if those assets were secured by loans. FRE then filed bankruptcy while creditors saw their collateral disappear. Wells Fargo claims it lost ten properties securing loans of $8.2 million due to these maneuvers by TCI. The court agreed with the lenders and dismissed the bankruptcy petition on March 1, 2011. Undeterred, FRE filed another bankruptcy petition on April 4. The trustee filed an objection to the petition. The court dismissed the petition in June. However, TCI's legal problems did not stay in Texas. A federal district court in Arkansas entered a $3,441,634 judgment against TCI on March 14, 2011. The court decreed land owned by TCI in Benton County, AR would be sold to help satisfy the judgment.

So let me see: Bankruptcy fraud. Mortgage fraud for tens of millions of dollars. Multi-million dollar judgments. Foreclosures. Phony companies created to hide assets from creditors. Yet, according to Jackson's "advisor", the risk is "manageable" and we should pay $14 million and put the taxpayers on the hook for nearly $100 million.

Yes, STX! You're welcome to them. Just another debacle in the making.


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caribstx
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November 10, 2014 5:13 pm  

Damn...I was just about to post that same excerpt from a Facebook post I just saw.


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Alana33
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November 10, 2014 5:43 pm  

Post it anyway, the more the merrier!

Stx, you've got a couple debacles in the making coming your way too, one of which is your Golden resort. Y'all best be doing your homework. You're going to have to live with the results in your back yard. It will affect us all, however.


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Scubadoo
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November 11, 2014 1:17 am  

I agree with EE. It seems to be common practice here for developers to buy up land, submit development proposals and then sit on the property for a while as land value increases. They turn around and sell at a nice profit to the next "wannabee developer" who then does the same thing - and so the cycle continues.

As EE points out, the Mandahl project is just one of many similar.

For what it's worth, seems to be common practice with developers. I've been seeing this on the mainland as well.


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caribstx
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November 11, 2014 11:30 am  

Post it anyway, the more the merrier!

Stx, you've got a couple debacles in the making coming your way too, one of which is your Golden resort. Y'all best be doing your homework. You're going to have to live with the results in your back yard. It will affect us all, however.

I'd be delighted to have a mega resort/marina or two on STX and welcome a new golf course in my neighborhood. Bring it on!


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Alana33
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November 11, 2014 1:32 pm  

And as mentioned you're welcome to it.
These entities need to be able to fund these projects to completion.
Decades ago they planned to develop Hans Lolick as a resort,
They built a rock jetty into a mangrove location at Mandahl Bay (which would not have been allowed today) and there it stopped. I can't remember why as it was so long ago
but by building the jetty, they destroyed the beach which was once sandy. It is no longer.


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Alana33
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November 11, 2014 1:50 pm  

Beyond all the NIMBY issues you brought up, I'm surprised that you hadn't mentioned the impending rise in sea levels that will severely impact the VI over the next 50 - 100 years.

Speaking of rising seas: ‘Nobody Is Truly Ready' For Rise Of Seas"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/ready-for-rising-seas_n_6133598.html


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pilatesgal318
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November 12, 2014 10:59 am  

For a marina, resort and retail center to be built in Mandahl Bay is about the most absurd thing I have heard in awhile! As Alana33 has pointed out, not only does the northside of St. Thomas have poor sea conditions (and all the other issues with marine life, wetlands, and mangroves being put in jeopardy there) but another hotel and retail space on island? Really?? WHY??? St. Thomas doesn't need that! Nor do they need an expanded cruise ship dock or other ways to bring in more passengers/tourist who spend very little on island anyway...how about coming up with a way to improve infrastructure before anything else is "added" to attract tourists.
Furthermore, in agreement with caribstx, what about a marina on STX?? I can tell you for a FACT that there is an existing (small) marina just outside Christiansted that would LOVE to get some assistance in building a place where larger boats could come in and dock, bringing people to STX who would help our struggling economy! The place is already there so we are not talking about destroying landscapes, mangroves, sea life, etc. - it just needs support from the government and community to bring in tourist dollars from the yachting/boating industry to struggling STX...


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aussie
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November 12, 2014 3:32 pm  

Mandahl also has one of the best, if not the best, bioluminescent displays in the Caribbean - twice per year - in the channel.


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skinnydippin
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November 12, 2014 5:03 pm  

Hey Aussie,
When is the best time to see that?
Thanks for the info.


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aussie
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November 12, 2014 5:22 pm  

Quite honestly, I don't remember. The algal blooms vary, I believe, with rain fall. If memory serves, the algae bloomed in the dry seasons.

It's spectacular! You can watch the tarpon chasing bait fish under water on a moonless night - a great big blue luminescent ball with smaller blue luminescent streaks shooting away from it.


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Alana33
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November 12, 2014 6:16 pm  

That'll be gone if they develop the location so enjoy it while you can.
Think I've seen it mostly during the summer but hard to recall.


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vicanuck
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November 13, 2014 11:01 am  

How do you know they'll be gone Alana33? Did they tell you that?


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Alana33
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November 13, 2014 11:19 am  

Yeah, they did.


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