St John Project Brief

The proposal is to construct a number of Eco-Units, each erected on a timber platform large enough to allow for an outside deck area for lounging, with BBQ facilities and a bar/restaurant.  Additional Eco-Units will be constructed to allow for showers, restrooms, communal lounge and an office/grocery store. A feature would be a timber and thatched roof bar and restaurant with swim-up pool and reception area.

USVI land St John Mandahl site

Location

The property is located on the South of St. John, in the United States Virgin Islands, a 10 minute walk from Salt Pond Bay (one of the most spectacular beaches on island), and has deeded access to Kiddell Bay (one of the best snorkel locations on island).  Sea views are towards St. Croix.

Subject

Acquisition of approximately 1.97+/- acre of land and the development of an Eco – Resort, located on the island of St. John, within the Territory of the United States Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I.).

Tenure

Freehold – with vacant possession. Planning classification is W1 which allows for  commercial use, which is rare in St. John and is something which has stalled similar recent projects. Architectural designs/plans will be included with purchase, planning has been agreed in principal with D.P.N.R and planning application is in process.

The property is solely owned by BBK Developments, as a corporation incorporated in the United States Virgin Islands. There is no mortgage held on the property.  All documentation is satisfactorily drawn and there are no unusual, or onerous restrictions, easements, covenants or other outgoings which would adversely affect the value of the relevant interests.  All information regarding tenure will be openly available to any interested parties.

Sale Price            

 The asking price for the entire 1.97 +/- acres is, $1.295m (US Dollars).

OVERVIEW OF U.S.V.I. and ST. JOHN

U.S.V.I

Located in the Caribbean, within the same archipelago, as the British Virgin Islands, the U.S.V.I. consists of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, together with many smaller surrounding islands.  With a total land area of 133.73 square miles (346.4 km2) the U.S.V.I. has a population of approximately 106,000.  The United Nations classifies the islands as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, which is currently an organized, unincorporated United States (U.S.) territory.

St. John

St. John is 80% National Park which is run by the US National Park Service.  There are two main inhabited areas (approximately 10,000 population).  Cruz Bay the main town, located on the West of the island and Coral Bay, a smaller community which is located towards the East of the island.  There are many beautiful beaches and hiking trails, along with many good restaurants, bars and shops.  There is a shortage of accommodation in general and in particular of lower cost accommodation.  As a result, many tourists commute daily from St Thomas by ferry.

Access

Saint Thomas operates an airport with direct flights to mainland U.S. and many of the other Caribbean islands (allowing easy access to Europe), including the British Virgin Islands, St Maarten, Dominican Republic.  Saint Thomas also has two ferry ports with services to the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and many of the other surrounding smaller islands.

Access to St. John from St. Thomas can be by both car and passenger ferries.  Passenger ferries depart from Red Hook on the East End of St. Thomas, or from Charlotte Amalie (5 minute taxi ride from St. Thomas airport).  Car ferries depart only from Red Hook is St. Thomas (the ferry trip is approximately 20 minutes) to Cruz Bay in St. John. The property is approximately 30 minute drive to Cruz Bay and Coral Bay is approximately a 5 minutes. Hitch-hiking is popular on the island. Taxis and rental cars are plentiful. Also popular is the Dollar Bus, all fares only $1 Dollar!

Economy

Research shows that generally across the region (USVI, BVI), tourism numbers are up for the period 2011-2013, which is encouraging to developers and numbers are forecast to continue to climb. The Caribbean is a very desirable location and retains the charm and beauty that has historically encouraged so much investment, ensuring a positive outlook for those with long-term vision. Prices, and in particular, construction costs, are at an historic low, together with the current low borrowing rates, suggests that now will be a good time to build.

There are a number of tourism related projects in the region most importantly, a new marina in Coral Bay is planned to begin construction during 2014.  Other projects in the region include Sir Richard Branson’s Mosquito Island and David Johnson’s, Oil Nut Bay, in the BVI.  Slated to begin construction in 2014, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, on the East end of St Thomas, which is a partnership with Wyndham Hotels.

The islands are an independent customs territory from the mainland U.S. but operate largely as a free-port.  U.S. citizens thus do not have to clear customs when arriving in the islands, but do when travelling to the mainland.  As an independent customs territory local residents are not subject to U.S. federal income taxes on U.S.V.I. source income.  There are a significant number of Economic Development Corporations (E.D.C.), based in the U.S.V.I., and the local government is actively encouraging developments.  All beachs in the U.S.V.I. are public. Tourism is the primary economic activity, although there is also a significant Rum Manufacturing sector.  St. Thomas benefits from a significant tax on its exports.

Business Potential

The existing Guest Houses and Eco-Campgrounds on St. John, are regularly full to capacity and are generally expensive for their standard of accommodation. The attached costings are thought to be very conservative.  Eco-resorts and eco-camping in or near the National Park is well established.  In particular the first and most successful site (Maho Bay), has recently closed due to expiration of the lease, after 36 years in successful operation, creating a huge void in this market with the loss of 114 units.

The time is eminently ripe for a more modern and popular “Yurt” scheme, which has yet to be used in St. John and will appeal to the latest generation of eco tourists in this already proven market.  Additional benefits are, improved construction and running costs, flexible and simple upgrades, and replacements (by contrast to the existing sites which look good in brochures but, definitely show their age when actually visited).

Building labour and imported materials in St. John are expensive; a ready-to-erect Yurt based scheme delivered to the site in containers, which will be incorporated into the scheme as storage/maintenance workshops, presents a major business advantage.

THE PROPERTY 

The property is in a quiet location just 5 minutes drive from Coral Bay, with all its amenities including, bars, restaurants, supermarkets, etc., and approximately 200 yards from the bus stop at Salt Pond Bay.  The Lameshure Bay Fish and Wildlife Research Centre is just a few minutes drive to the West.

There are many hiking trails in St. John, the famous Reef Bay and Lameshur Bay trails are only 10 minutes down the road.  VIERS (Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station), is also only 10 minutes down the road, which is the site of the famous underwater bathyscope experiment in the 1960’s.

The topography of the subject property is flat to moderately sloping. A prominent knoll located on the southern part of the property will be used for the communal areas, to enjoy the best sea views. The landscaping is dry with many cacti and sub-tropical flora.

There is deeded access to Kiddell Bay (450 metres distant) which, along with Lameshur Bay is a wonderful snorkelling area.

Aerial View of the Property

bbk land st john usvi


DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS

It is intended to construct timber decks with 20 Yurts.  Most of the Yurts would be individual studio/family style, housing 2-6 people.  Some of these Yurts could be easily and quickly converted to Hostel style, sleeping 8-10 people “dormitory style”.  The dormitory concept does not currently exist on St. John but, may prove popular due to the high accommodation prices. Due to the flexibility of Yurts (conversion from individual to hostel style taking 2-3 hours), it would be easy to optimize the resort.

A swimming pool and volley ball court would be included in the community area, along with a thatched roof bar/restaurant (similar to the picture below).

St John Thatched Beach Bar

 

Development Costs

Costs for the project can be furnished upon request.  No taxes or local fees have been included, as these may vary depending on the strategy of building for long, or short term development.

Plans

Architectural plans (sketch scheme), are attached to this report.

Construction Permits

The zoning is “W-1” which allows for commercial development. W1 significantly, is rarely available on St. John.  One of the present owners is a local Architect and would be willing to obtain necessary construction permits and carry out project management.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS 

The Archaeological Survey, required in USVI for development, was completed on the site in 2010.  There was an old stone oven found on the site, this will be preserved within the open space area of the camp.  Otherwise there are no environmental issues on, or close to the site.

Eco-Developments

Eco-friendly developments are in vogue, and green issues are important to the present owners.  This project will work towards being an eco-friendly, sustainable development, and at the same time attempt to be as self-sufficient as possible.  Solar panels shading the parking area, will be included in the overall plan and a sewage plant will be installed, ‘grey’ water from which will be utilised for landscaping.

ADDITIONAL BUSINESS POTENTIAL 

The reception/office Yurt will also be utilised as a small store for basic supplies.  Mountain bikes, snorkel gear, will be available for rent.

FURTHER INFORMATION 

Further information, surveys, architectural sketches, etc., can be supplied on request to interested parties. 

ADDENDUM

BBK Developments Ltd, also owns a number of other properties located on, St. John and Water Island in the US Virgin Islands, and on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico.  Information on these properties can also be obtained from the persons below.

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