A public hearing has been scheduled for September 7 at 6 p.m., at the Guy H. Benjamin School in Coral Bay, Room 6, to change the existing zoning of the Voyages property from W-1 to B-2, so the new owners can convert the building to an inn with a maximum of 27 room.
The long-vacant Voyages building in Coral Bay is proposed for a new voyage as the Coral Bay Inn, a “green inn” that will bring affordable, convenient lodging to the heart of Coral Bay. The new owners also plan to bring green to the community – in the form of tourism revenue and jobs.
The Voyages building and the vacant lot behind it are under contract through a partnership of local and seasonal residents, each having extensive experience in the lodging industry. In collaboration with a financial partner, long-time Coral Bay residents Karen and Rob Vahling plan to oversee construction and management of the inn. The Vahlings, who recently built their own home in Coral Bay, are excited about what the inn can offer the community and its guests.
“We think a small inn will bring a breath of life to Coral Bay businesses, and it couldn’t be in a better location,” said Karen Vahling. “The building has been vacant for years and the community needs some benefit versus a degrading building.”
Instead of starting another new construction on the island, plans are to keep the existing footprint of the Voyages building and add one floor, with parking on the vacant lot behind the building.
Vahling, also executive director of the Island Green Building Association, is adamant that the Coral Bay Inn will be a “green inn” wherever possible.
“We want to create an inn that is cutting edge in environmentally friendly operations, low and renewable (solar) energy use, as well as a resource for guests to learn about the natural beauty of St. John,” said Vahling. “Everything guests use will be eco-friendly yet comfortable, and every place they look will offer something to learn about our island ecosystems and nature – from the artwork, to books, to native landscaping around the inn. Everything will offer a message that St. John is a treasure to enjoy and protect.”
Guests will enjoy harbor views from the planned balconies and the convenience of being located next to Cocoloba Shopping Center, on the bus line, and in walking distance to other restaurants, shops, and harbor excursions.
“The inn will be ideal for visitors who want the convenience and affordability of an inn, and rooms can be rented nightly,” said Vahling.
Upscale rooms will offer hotel-like amenities but without a restaurant or spa, and will be in the $200 a night range.
“We want guests to stay with us but to visit Coral Bay businesses for shopping, dining, tours and services while they’re here,” Vahling said. “We look forward to offering the Coral Bay Inn as a win-win part of the community.”
The buyers have submitted a rezoning application to change the existing zoning from W-1 to B-2 for converting the building to an inn with a maximum of 27 rooms, as designed by architect Rob Crane, also a board member of the Island Green Building Association. Both current and proposed zoning allow for three stories.
There will be a public hearing on September 7 at 6 p.m., at the Guy H. Benjamin School in Coral Bay, Room 6. The Vahlings encourage the community to come discuss the Coral Bay Inn and support the rezoning request. For more info email [email protected] or call 340-227-1110.