Commercially-Zoned Maho Property Sells

Maho Bay overlook
A parcel on the far right across the roadway recently sold.

For those of you who were out and about near Maho Bay Monday, you may have seen that some clean up was happening on the land across from the bathrooms on the western side of the beach. Well that’s because that property recently sold, and the new owner is readying it for a new business that promises to leave a “very, very low footprint.”

Now before we get into the details, I understand that many of you wish Maho would stay as is and not be developed in any way. I agree with you. However there are privately-owned parcels in the area, some of which are zoned W-1, so it is up to the owners to decide how they should be used. I spoke with the new owner of this Maho parcel Monday, and here is what I learned.

Let’s start with the actual property. Its legal address is 3-2 Estate Miland Maho Bay Quarter, and it’s under two acres. The property is zoned W-1 commercial which allows for an array of development including apartment houses, hotels and guesthouses; night clubs; planned developments; and refreshment stands among other businesses. Here are a couple of maps:

Maho area map
Overview of Maho Bay
Maho Property Sold December 2018
The recently sold property is outlined in red.

The new owner, John Yob, is planning to open a small business that consists of a tiki bar made out of a converted trailer, and a food truck which is a converted VW bus. There will be trailer-like portable restrooms on the property, as well as a container for storage. DJ Ahladis, owner of North Shore Deli, is managing the project, John told me Monday, so he will determine the type of food to be offered.

John said his new venture, dubbed Maho Crossroads, will have a 1960s hippy-like vibe. John is an avid Grateful Dead fan, so Maho Crossroads will include an abundance of that type of memorabilia. When I asked John if he planned to build any sort of hotel or resort on the property, he adamantly said no. When I asked why he would buy such a prime and pricey piece of real estate only to open two food trucks on site, he did admit that he is “keeping (his) options open.” He asked me to stress to you all that “(they) aren’t proposing any development, it’s simply solar-powered food trucks with storage container.”

John plans to use this food truck on his new Maho property.
John plans to use this food truck on his new Maho property.

John purchased the property from the Penn family, and he hopes to have Maho Crossroads opened within the next month. He said the two food trucks are currently on St. Thomas. They are waiting for licensing to be completed, and to finish cleaning up the property. Many of the dead trees will be repurposed and used as stools on site, he said.

Guests can visit the food trucks from land or water. Boaters can pull up a mooring ball and dinghy into the eastern end of the beach. Beachgoers can simply walk over.

John said he feels this project will fill a void with regard to the lack of concessions in the National Park following the hurricanes. As of today, the only beach that currently has food or drink options is Honeymoon.

For many of you, John’s name may sound a bit familiar. He is a political strategist who moved to St. John from Michigan back in 2015. He’s worked on John McCain, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum’s presidential campaigns. He also made an appearance on the Daily Show back in 2016 when they filmed on St. John following a delegate debacle. Click here to read all about it and to watch the video. 

For those of you who’d like to learn more about John and to get a better sense of what he would like to accomplish with this project, please check out this 2015 interview.

We will keep you all posted on what happens with this property. Have a great Tuesday everyone.

35 thoughts on “Commercially-Zoned Maho Property Sells”

  1. I don’t know anything about this sort of thing, but just putting it out there…Is there any way the remaining properties can be rezoned to not be commercial? Could we try to raise funds for the National Park Service to buy any of them when or if they go up for sale? What could potentially be built there would ruin the Maho area we all know and love.

    • I agree with trying to raise funds..in MA Trustees of Reservations buys up beautiful parcels of land (all private donations) and keeps them pristine and natural for all to use. It’s set up like buying a beautiful work of Art then donating it to a museum. I’d like to see something like that started on St John.

  2. I was wondering if someone could school me on something. I understand that 65% or so of SJ is National Park and cannot be developed. However, why does every aerial view show multiple property lines? I would’ve thought the surrounding areas of Maho were NP but these 2 acres are not? Also, you see some listings for rentals within the NP. Can people build residences within the NP, just not anything else? Thanks for the help!

  3. A shady political operative paying for a pricey parcel of oceanfront property verbally committing to keep a very very low footprint with only a solar powered food cart that has to be a money-losing proposition?

    Forgive me for being a wee bit skeptical.

  4. I think Friends of the Park needs to get involved when properties like this come up for sale. They have the knowledge and the resources to raise the funds to purchase some of these properties. I agree time marches on but maybe the march forward can on island time!

  5. Of all the possible uses this does seem to be the lightest footprint possible and sounds like the described vibe is one quite compatible with STJ- like a Vies. Sounds like they are being pretty respectful of people’s feelings in that regard.

    I can understand why the “keeping options open” remark would concern those against any development at all. However, 2 acres is not all that much so it is very unlikely that it will become a Ritz. It’s more likely that locals will try to get the zoning changed to limit commercial or even residential endeavors there. If that happened the parcel would have to be grandfathered in order for the owner to drastically change plans. I’m sure the people who keep an eye on these things are watching to see what types of permit requests are submitted. Am I going to grab a bite and a drink there next time we go? Yup.

  6. A food truck likely won’t come near paying the mortgage, or sales price, on that parcel. Probably not in one man’s lifetime.

  7. I think anyone considering building something substantial there would have to think about how close this is to the water and how hard it was during Irma. (not to minimize the destruction all over the island) I just don’t see the concerns about a resort or some such thing being built when they can’t even get started on rebuilding Caneel. But you never know.

  8. I have personally spent a considerable amount of time on a mooring ball in Maho Bay in the past. If they are going to allow dinghy access to that end of the beach I hope the NPS plans to add bouys to mark a new dinghy channel and perhaps a floating dinghy line to tie up to rather than people dragging their dinghys onto the beach. Due to the quantity of snorkelers going back and forth along the beach, the dinghy channel is a must to keep the boats in one channel while coming and going and the snorkelers from getting run over.

  9. I think some of the comments here underscore the fact that there is an ongoing conflict between local families and the NPS over property lines and rights. It is my understanding that starting with Rockefeller there has been a lot of heavy handed and insensitive dealings regarding property acquisition for the park. This parcel has been for sale on and off for a number of years. I don’t believe there was any real movement from the Friends or the NPS to purchase this property. If a local owner needed to sell the property and got their price, and the new owners wants to do something low key that would benefit beach goers, I think its a positive thing. The NPS needs to focus energy and money on bringing services back to Trunk and doing something about the campgrounds at Cinnamon Bay. If it turns out that there’s going to be another type of building on the property, a small hotel, rental apartments, a restaurant, build to code, protect the beach and employee locals. There is still a lot of pristine property to enjoy and protect.

  10. There’s two parcels for sale there. 3 rem and 3-2. One is 1.65 acres the other 4.5 acres. Combined the listed price is 8 mil. If my memory is correct the 1.65 acre site listed by itself for over 2 mil. Seems a lot to pay for land to put a food truck on. DJ’s a good guy so him being involved gives me hope that this property will not be mis-used.

  11. We usually hang out on Cinnamon but we might just swing over to Maho in 2019. I can’t think of a better backdrop while having a drink and bite to eat and listening to some Grateful Dead.

    I’m sure when they were planning on building Mongoose, there were plenty of nay sayers, but Mongoose is always a priority stop for shopping and eating(Norh Shore Deli is our favorite breakfast spot)

    I hope they succeed in this new venture.

    Ya, sure, youbetcha

  12. I’ll be curiously watching to see how or if this changes the Maho atmosphere. We come every year for the quiet and low key lifestyle. Maho has always been one of my favorite spots. I hope it doesn’t interfere or make the area to congested. I’ll try it out and give it a fair shot, but I’m not over the moon about the idea.

    • There are plenty of Republicans who are deadheads. Deadbase conducted a poll in the 1990’s showing 30+% of deadheads were Republicans.

      Famous GOP deadheads include Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter, and even Steve Bannon at one time.

  13. ppl not familiar with the names: John McCain, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum: these republican/libertarian folks are not aligned with ‘60’s hippie culture! Au contraire, mon freres!
    2 Mil for a couple of fool, I mean food trucks?
    A metaphor:

  14. Great news. Love DJ. Happy to hear he’s involved so good will be amazing. About time Maho offered food and drink. St John needs this type of progress. Great for locals and tourists. Also great for charters to bring people in.

  15. Hi,
    I was looking for an update here. Is the food truck up and running at Maho or are Trunk and Honeymoon still the only two beaches that have food service ?
    Thanks and appreciate your work.

  16. First time going to Maho since developed. Very disappointing. Circus atmosphere. People in road. Cars everywhere. Not a good addition to the island. Someone is going to get hurt with all the traffic.

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