After weeks of toiling, a 16-acre parcel slated for the island’s next luxury development has been cleared and thorough mitigation measures have been installed.
With Chocolate Hole Bay beachfront property and land bordering the large salt pond, plans for the 50-unit Pond Bay Club are right on schedule, according to development director Claude Dupre.
The project had previously been delayed for years, with more than three years lapsing between the application for and approval of a major Coastal Zone Management permit, the first time around.
In the end, work did not begin on the Chocolate Hole site until about five years after the first major CZM permit was granted.
Recently, however, First American Group/Carib Development, LP has enjoyed a surge of activity. About four weeks after commencing work, the site is cleared and a two-tiered silt fence rings the property.
Top-Notch Silt Fences
“We wanted to have top-notch mitigation measures in place,” said Dupre. “We wanted the best silt fences, better than what is required. We wanted to be a model for the whole Virgin Islands.”
Mitigation work on the site continues and will eventually include two water retention ponds. Now the developers, along with Department of Planning and Natural Resources officials, have recently turned their eyes to the beach front.
At least 35 boats on moorings call the bay home and and a number of dinghies and other small water craft are tied to trees or resting on the land, which DPNR officials say is a no-no.
No Boats Allowed Along Shoreline
“DPNR has issued notices several times and these boats cannot be here,” said Dupre.
“We don’t want to move anything on anyone,” said Dupre. “We are going to be moving the big rocks and we’ve been cleaning up trash. We’ll continue working with people.”
While work will continue on cleaning the shore front and maintaining the silt fences, buildings should start coming out of the ground in about four months, according to the development director.
Once the buildings start rising, the developers expect construction to take about another 10 months. Finishing work and auxiliary buildings should take about an additional 10 months after that.
Two Year Construction Timeline
So in a bit more than two years from now, St. John residents can expect to see the finished “European-style” five star, ultra-luxury fractional ownership development Pond Bay Club, according to Dupre.
While architectural plans for the site continue to evolve, currently the project consists of 50 units spread out in four three-story buildings, six two-story buildings and 10 one-story buildings.
Plans also include a large swimming pool, tower fitness facility, 100-seat restaurant and 1,600-square foot high-end spa, E’Spa.
“E’Spa is definitely one of the top three spas in the world,” Dupre previously told the St. John Tradewinds. “When the Pond Bay Club E’Spa is complete it will be the number one spa in the Caribbean for sure.”
Moving and Paving Access Road
The developers have not forgotten about the public right of way either. First American plans to construct a sidewalk from Route 104 along Chocolate Hole East Road to the beach.
The existing road from the pavement to the beach will be moved a few feet and paved, further keeping run-off away from the sea, Dupre added.
Years of Delays
Amid much controversy, modifications and public hearings, the St. John CZM Committee finally approved the major land permit in February 2002.
More than four years later, in July 2006, that same committee deemed the developer’s permit invalid due to lack of activity.
First American resubmitted its application — this time without the originally requested reverse osmosis plant — in the fall of 2006 and it was approved in early January 2007.
Instead of desalinating its own water, the developers will hook into a new public utility pipe which the Water And Power Authority is supposed to have on line by the end of the year, Tracy Roberts of Springline Architects explained at First American’s CZM decision meeting in January.