Best Island Deal: Leases for Government-owned Land

VITELCO (Innovative Telephone) leases the government-owned land in the heart of Cruz Bay, left, for its service operations at a cost of $1 per year.

As the cost of living and doing business on St. John continues to skyrocket, leases for government-owned land are by far the best deals on the island.

There are about seven acres of V.I. government-owned land in the Estate Cruz Bay and Estate Enighed areas leased to a variety of businesses from car rental agencies to the St. John Animal Care Center.

Spencer Pays Lowest Rent
Annual square foot average rents for the properties hover around $2.75, with the lowest rate being about 69 cents per square foot per year which Spencer Jeep Rental pays to the V.I. government for its 3,482 square-foot property, according to information provided by the V.I. Department of Property and Procurement.

The John’s Folly Learning Institute and the V.I. Telephone Company — now Innovative — are the only two entities that pay a lower rent than Spencer.

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JFLI, a non-profit community center that offers after school and summer programs to the island’s youth on the remote south shore, pays a mere $1 per year for its 2.77 acres of land. Innovative pays $1 per year for its 4,391 square-foot Cruz Bay property.

The V.I. Miscellaneous Services, Inc., — a car rental agency whose president is James Dalmida — enjoys the second-lowest government rent at 77 cents per square foot per year for its 12,487 square-feet of property.

Senator’s Info Not Included
V.I. Senator Roosevelt David has a government-owned lease for his Best Rent A Car, yet information about the square footage and annual rent for the space was not supplied by V.I. Department of Property and Procurement.

When contacted, however, the senator readily agreed to provide all the information that he had.

“We have had the lease for so many years, I really don’t recall the square footage,” he said. “I don’t want to give the wrong information, so I won’t make a guess.”

The senator did say he pays $516 a month, which adds up to $6,192 annually.

USPS Pays Highest Rent
At $7.65 per square foot per year, the U.S. Postal Service pays the highest rent to the V.I. government — which is still a bargain in Cruz Bay real estate.

Although the rental rates for government-owned property reflect amounts paid for only the raw land and not a finished space, rental rates for privately-owned commercial spaces are usually far higher.

The average Cruz Bay privately-owned commercial rent is about $22 to $25 per square foot per year.

Rental rates for other prime island commercial properties go for much more money, but often include electricity and maintenance fees which can push rents up to more than $60 per square foot per year.