While there was no official word about the future of Maho Bay Campground last week, one interested party is certainly spending a lot of money scoping out the North Shore Road property.
Two representatives of an engineering firm have been at the property recently testing for things like hazardous chemicals, asbestos and lead paint, according to Maho Bay Camps officials.
And then a crew from St. Thomas spent two and a half weeks on the property conducting a thorough survey of the buildings, driveway and property lines, the official added.
From all accounts, it seems like the sale of the campground could certainly be announced in the near future.
“We have been told from the current land owners that they have finished initial negotiations with a potential buyer,” said Adrian Davis, general manager and vice president of Maho Bay Camps, Harmony Studios and Estate Concordia. “We have been informed that they are in advanced negotiations. Someone is spending a lot of money doing their due diligence.”
The popular eco-resort, which employs more than 50 people and offers a rare affordable St. John vacation, was opened by Stanley Selengut in 1976. Thirty-seven years later, Maho Bay Campground’s lease is set to expire the last day of June 2013.
Currently Maho Bay Campground officials are planning to close the resort in mid-May to allow for six weeks of cleanup, explained Davis.
“We’re looking at closing in mid-May in order to clean the whole place out,” Davis said. “That gives us six weeks to clear out everything contents-wise like refrigerators, linens, laundry equipment and everything. Six weeks might even be pushing it for all that.”
The property is also home to a ceramic studio, Maho Bay Clay Works, owned by Gail Van de Bogurt, which operates as a concession. If and when the resort closes, it is believed that the studio would open in a different island location, Davis explained.
The glassblowing studio, however, is expected to find a new home at Maho’s sister property Estate Concordia, which Selengut owns, Davis added.
If no buyer was found, Maho officials and fans were hoping to be able secure a five-year lease to continue operating the resort, according to Davis.
“If no buyer came through, with the way the market looks right now, we were pushing for a long-term lease which everyone had in the back of their minds,” he said. “We hoped that as we got closer to the end, the longer it sat on the market, it would put improve chances for a lease. Like, ‘here we are paying rent and it’s good money and we’d love to be here a few years longer.’”
“The CZM process is not going to happen overnight so if we could get a five year lease, they could still try to sell the property,” Davis said. “Even if someone buys it, it could be six to 12 months before you can do anything, why not continue renting.”
Despite those high hopes, Maho Bay Camps officials are operating with the idea in mind that this will be their final season, Davis explained.
“Right now we are running under the assumption that this is our last season,” he said. “We have not been given any reason from the owners to think otherwise.”
As such, many Maho Bay fans are making a point to enjoy the resort one last time.
“We are seeing a large amount of return guests,” Davis said. “We’re welcoming a lot of our friends and families who have been with us at least once.”
For more information about Maho Bay Campground check out www.maho.org.