It’s take two for the Pond Bay Club.
After being told in September their original major Coastal Zone Management permit was invalid, First American Development Group/ Carib representatives have re-submitted plans to construct a luxury resort, spa and restaurant on 15 acres of beachfront property along Chocolate Hole Bay.
“We were testing the waters and we had very strong positive responses from all levels of government,” said Robert Emmett, managing partner of First American. “People realize this is a really high-quality investment.”
50-unit Luxury Resort
The original CZM permit for the project, which includes plans for a 50-unit project of three- and four-bedroom cottages and villas, tennis courts, swimming pools, a full-service spa, a gym and a 140-seat restaurant, was approved in 2002.
After four years of environmental testing, developers were set to begin construction in July, but were informed by the St. John CZM Committee that too much time had elapsed since their permit had been issued.
CZM regulations require commencement of a project within one year of the issuance of a major permit. Despite developer’s argument that they were engaged in extensive CZM-mandated testing, the committee ruled the permit invalid.
It was back to the drawing board for the Pond Bay Club. Developers, however, expect this go-around to be easier than the first time.
“The government knows we’ve been though this and they know what this will bring to the island,” said Emmett. “It was like re-charging a battery. We really needed that — I needed that.”
The re-submitted plans are identical to the ones originally submitted in 2001, Emmett added.
“We submitted what we got our building permit for — it’s the same package supplemented with the studies that we completed,” said Emmett. “We’ve been through all this before and now the environmental testing is well under way.
There will be ongoing testing throughout the project, but if the permit gets approved, we’ll be able to start construction quickly.”
Sticking with the St. John plans has not been easy, Emmett explained.
Pressure To Relocate
“The Caribbean is really hot right now,” said Emmett. “The pressure to take the project to another island is big. But after working on this for 10 years, I’m making sure it will be built in St. John.”
As an indication of what could be constructed in Chocolate Hole, Pond Bay Club’s sister property in St. Barth, the Isle de France, was recently voted the 16th best hotel in the world in Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s reader choice awards 2006, explained Emmett.
“The excellence of Isle de France gives you a sense of the quality of what we’re bringing to the island,” Emmett said.