It’s Happening: Marina Coming to Coral Bay

new marina pic

There’s been quite a bit of talk lately over two proposed marinas in Coral Bay. Well we can tell you today with certainty that at least one of the planned marinas is happening.

“After nearly 5 years of painstaking research, studies and community input, the Summer’s End Group, LLC, sustainable developers of the St. John marina, The Yacht Club at Summer’s End (YCSE) is pleased to announce that the Department of Planning and Natural Resources has deemed our application complete for St. John’s long awaited marina,” YCSE wrote in an email to News of St. John Monday.

According to the email, the marina will be located in the “waters across from Island Blues, Voyages and Coco Loba” and will be a “full service, sustainably developed marina offering waste water pump out, fuel, provisioning, restaurants, entertainment, shopping and all of the other services and amenities you’d expect from a state of the art, world class, recreational marina facility.”

The team described the marina as being a sustainably guided local effort.

“The Summer’s End Group, LLC’s members are full time St. Johnians including Chaliese Summers, Managing Member, Rick Barksdale and Robert O’Connor, Jr. and others who love St. John, her natural beauty and all that she has to offer. The team assembled to design the sustainably developed marina project consists of USVI based marine biologist, architects and engineers, a local cultural anthropologist and other experts whose life experience on St. John, and design, construction and marina development experience total over 150 years.

“In a concerted effort to sustainably improve the health of Coral Harbor, the Summer’s End Group has worked diligently with the Coral Bay Watershed Management Plan Phase ll and DPNR to address the issues of storm water runoff, and non-compliant activities both on land and water. Independently, we have also formed a Marine Uses Advisory Panel comprised of knowledgeable St. Johnians and experts to help guide the ongoing improvements offered by a sustainable approach to growth and island life.”

The marina will have 145 slips, and according to YCSE, it will create more than 90 jobs totaling more than $3 million in labor income annually, as well as a total annual economic impact of more than $8.7 million.

41 thoughts on “It’s Happening: Marina Coming to Coral Bay”

    • Ahhhhhh…. so that’s why the Centerline cave-in probably got the EMERGENCY REPAIRS mentioned on VI/Federal Funds signs… 3 years after Otto. Apparently our school kids and ourselves weren’t important enough as paving the way to the Summer’s End Marina so the truck loads of graft could keep flowing. Thought the ‘architect rendering’ on cover of Tradewinds a bit e l o n g a t e d so it made it look like a lovely landscaped area instead of the actual congestion it will be if you read it carefully. Be sure to take note of all the Important Environmental Groups the project couple has embedded themselves into. They have not been sleeping since Voyages failed. BTW I looked down on original Voyages construction and watched/heard the sump pumps go on every morning before sunrise to pump the previous night’s fill-up into the bay before most people were awake… only the spreading brown stain was visible from halfway up hillside. And the Generational local culture… is there a written statement how many of the ‘jobs created’ other than pick & shovel, housecleaning, menial ones will be open to St Johnian youth? Will they be mentored, will bright ones be given managerial posts or just visible token positions for local charm & color? If you greeted tourists in Cruz Bay you’d know they are relieved to have made it across STT, that the demand is more for Coral Bay side, and that the reality is, the folks with $$$ are chosing East End because it hasn’t been ‘spoiled’ yet. (Although THAT is causing a whole other problem just slumbering below the surface….).. I just don’t get it when Gov’t proceeds to destroy the goose that lays the golden egg, except maybe they get their eggs delivered differently?

  1. I am not sure about that Willi. Regarding the completion date, it will depend on how quickly they can get permits.

  2. This is where greed overcomes the desires of the community at large. The scope of this project is about as “un-Coral Bay” as I can imagine and will completely alter the quiet and laid back character that so many of us sought and still enjoy when we moved here. Tourists escape from the noise and confusion of Cruz Bay to enjoy what we have here. They enjoy a burger at quirky Skinnys, or Friday happy hour at Aqua Bistro with friends and locals, etc. We treasure quiet evenings at our house up on Bordeaux, but with what the investors have planned, that will most likely be ancient history. And what’s next? Hotels? Condos? I think it signals the end of what most of us love the most. Shame on you developers!

    • Bill,

      Yes, this will change Coral Bay. I too think that it will change it for the worse.

      Here’s an idea.

      Call Mr. Smalls and have him give an estimated time for the permits and completion of the project. If history is any indication, we will all be dead and gone before it happens.


  3. I welcome change and economic development to the island, but this is going to be a nightmare. How many times have we seen Silver Cloud on the road after a hurricane? Now, compound that with the amount of boats this marina wants to have. Stupid place to put a marina. At least the church’s plan is in a spot that is more protected from storm surge. Remember, it is not if we get another hurricane. It is when. It will happen. There is a depression out there as I write this.

  4. One of the many inappropriate aspects to the scale of the project is the purported nature of it being ‘world class’ and 5 star…really, come on now. From where we are today to 5 star in one move…nice fantasy but hardly realistic. Are they still planning the 9 hole golf course? That really is a laugh. The principals have zero experience in marine activities and “will be taking over the management of the bay…” that is, of course, until it is sold to a money laundering group from the Ukraine or one of the Arab groups that are developing elsewhere in the Caribbean. Then they will be in charge of our American bay. Your piece is written as though it is happening now but there is still a process to go through although they will do their best to ram it thru.

  5. As the engineer responsible for the upland plans, I think that this is a great thing for the area. The current economy and well being of the area is degrading with the lack of tourism in the area. While I love the laid back vibe, the fact is that there is nothing sustainable about the current Coral Bay situation. School closing, businesses constantly changing management and ownership, and shacks and shanty’s popping up everywhere on land they don’t own or control (Moravian Church Lands). This will bring a much needed plan of sustainable Harbor Management. There will be a presence of Customs increased Law enforcement. Trips to the BVI can now be undertaken from Coral Bay. This will only help the overall health and stability of the community. And as one of the professionals who helped develop this plan, I can say it was all done with the best intents for the environment and the community. Please don’t let the rumor mill drive your comments and thoughts. I have no problem with people wanting to oppose this. We have that right, but Please do so after a preponderance of the facts.

    • Joseph, I agree with you that opposition should be fact based. The trouble is, for folks who are not deeply involved in the process, there isn’t a lot of information easily available other than this article and the one from the Tradewinds. Could you provide links to relevant, publically available planning documents?

    • You confuse slow paced with coral bay being “unsustainable the way it is”. The people in coral bay don’t want shopping and 4 star restaurants. People choose to come stay in coral bay to get away from that.
      You’re taking away the part that makes coral bay attractive in hopes of still making money off of that very thing.

  6. Change can be tricky. Many people inherently have difficulties adjusting to change but here on our tiny island, the smallest changes can seem enormous. But, as we all know, change IS inevitable. Change is how we have car barges that operate almost hourly, providing ways for us to bring our goods back and forth from STT to STJ, making our houses into homes. Change is the reason we have the ability to send our little ones to the school of our choice. Change is creating jobs for our residents, therefore reducing the unemployment rate of our territory. I have been a resident on St. John for 12 years and have been a licensed boat captain for 8. The idea of a new marina in the US Virgin Islands is a breath of fresh air to me. The proposal includes a Customs and Immigration Building, something the boats of St. John and St. Thomas desperately need. It will provide JOBS and spaces for our small businesses to flourish.

    Change is difficult, but inevitable. I can remember so much noise being made from the residents of St. John in regards to Grande Bay and how it was “a scar on the face of Cruz Bay.” Well, that “scar” has drawn high-end clientele to our island, created jobs and helped to grow tourism and our economy.

    Let’s focus on the positives of this inevitable project. The landscape of Coral Bay might be altered, but her spirit is strong and this marina will only serve to enhance her beauty.

    The group behind the marina live on St. John and they individually and collectively love St. John. We are not talking about a corporation based in another country, we are talking about our next door neighbors who know and understand the simplicity and beauty of our small Caribbean isle.

    • Do you have a vested interested Bill? I’m half kidding half serious. I understand what you are saying. But at some point it must stop. In my opinion the beauty of St John is being ruined by the almighty dollar!

  7. When Hurricane Marilyn came thru, it spawned tornados that cut a swathe exactly where this marina will be located and continued straight up Carolina, taking out houses, roofs and bush. You could see where it went by the cut it made.
    Better put those pilings deep…Not sure that will help, if and when another one comes in! I don’t want to see another Hurricane, but this is where we live!!!

  8. I don’t have a problem doing something with this area and making it more viable. However, this scale is too large. It should be cut in half.
    Just take one look at the Bay. It will be all moorings and less beautiful water. i can’t even imagine what it will do to the marine life.

  9. I’m with Steve… I am more concerned about the scale of this project. If the renderings they have in the Tradewinds Newspaper are to scale, this project seems entirely too large. I fear that our community could not even support something this large. Yes, Grande Bay has been successful, but there are two other large projects here that were not so successful (Pond Bay, Sirenusa). Yes, I am concerned. While I welcome growth, I would much rather see something that is starts off much smaller with plans to grow if the need arises.

  10. Reading these comments, one would think a Trump Casino is being planned for Coral Bay. Boating is a very laid-back activity that has been at the heart of this area since the first settlers arrived. Boaters are people who by definition, love the water and the overall environment. Marinas do not build large, multi-story buildings with all the congestion and the pollution that comes with them. With proper pump out, the waters of Coral Bay will be cleaner; certainly cleaner than they are now. And yes, it will bring jobs and economic activity to the area.

    The focus of the community should be on doing this development correctly, particularly any dredging that might be required.

  11. Been coming to St. John for over 30 years and it is always the same attitude in Coral Bay they want to live in the past and not move forward it is this kind of attitude that stop anyone from doing anything constructive there. Why is there no gas station anymore? Why is there no development on the East End? Why has no major supermarket opened there? It seems when Coral Bay is presented with an economic opportunity a hand full of out spoken people rally the masses to get it stopped. 2/3 of this island is already preserved by the NPS there is a limited about of area someone can develop but the not in my back yard attuitude has to stop if this island is going to move forward. You want peace and quite and no luxurys of mondern day living go get a peice of land in a 3rd world country Time to stop living in the past and move on St. John is as least 5 years behind the states in many areas and with no jobs or programs in place to get jobs a government that is spending more than it makes with out a proper tax base in place the path will continue plus the high cost of power this all goes hand and hand with fixing what you are opposing Now you don’t want a development that brings jobs and a flow of money to your community? yet complain that the property taxes are too high milk is too high and the list goes on. Economics will tell you this is needed now more than ever to boost the Coral Bay community and bring it into the 21st century! Once in place this will attract other business to the area and feed off of each other You have to start somewhere

    • The people who live there should decide. And the reason people choose St John is because it’s undeveloped like other islands. The future of St John doesn’t have to include these things. If you want more options then maybe you should choose another island instead of tell residents to go live in a 3rd world country.

    • John D. I suggest you go where the development already exists. Like Florida SE coast. We have a fantastic economy here in Coral Bay believe it or not. You want to make a living just start a small business and do your job well. You will be more successful than you could imagine. Go ask the people that actually live here and have made an honest effort to make a living. I’m in my 35th year of this! Our quiet side appeal is what drives our economy here. I suggest you make a living where YOU like it and not try to make our home that way.

  12. I hope for a developed area too, an appropriate area. The worst thing that could happen is that it gets started and couldn’t be completed. If people were saying Co Co Loba Complex was ahead of it’s time just a few years ago, how could it be possible to step into this vision. I’m anxious to see what the Moravian plan might be. A Condo and a slip sounds pretty good to me and I would buy into that in a second. Especially with a chandlery and repair service handy, that is a mighty pretty picture. So too is the customs house, increased commerce and the beautification to go with it. Not a Sirenusa on the Sea, please.

  13. Do you remember when the ferry dock was built in Cruz Bay and the opposition to that? How about when Mongoose junction was built and those “nay sayers”? More recently the grumblings about the Westin? Or Sirenusa? The fact is, is that “If you build it, they will come”.

    Someone had a vision with all of these endeavors. There has been success and hindrances with each one. It brings about change, but also provides jobs, sustainability and a freshness to the island. Everyone has the right to have their own opinion about it, and/or jump on the “opinion bandwagon”. We will not know ahead of time how this Marina will impact Coral Bay, or St. John as a whole.

    If it is planned well and executed correctly, and done with respect to the people of St. John and the environment, it will boost the economy once again by providing jobs, ease of accessibility for boaters, as well as accessibility to this “new side” of the island for many who have not experienced it yet. It will also bring with it opportunity for our next generations of St. Johnians, to see their visions, hopes and dreams come to fruition.

    Guy Benjamin once said he and his friends would spend a whole day walking the jeep roads from Coral Bay to Cruz Bay, just to listen to the only available radio on the island. Since then, someone’s foresight has given us paved roads, and radio, and internet and TV and cable and rental cars and eating/drinking establishments all over the island that we are all enjoying today.

    The only thing constant is change.

  14. I agree with others the project is too big in scope right now and should build on a wait and see basis. Also not mentioned is how rough the middle to outer edge of the bay gets. Are the docks going to somehow lay down the water? Folks who live in the Coral Harbor area do so because it’s quieter and safer than the majority of the island, visitors come here to stay a week or so for the same reason. Who exactly is going to benefit from this project? Sure, the youth of this island need another source of income so they can at least afford to live on their own, but to be part of a 5 star development like this they need training. Has a school for hospitality or marine services been considered? DPNR has had severe infrastructure problems for quite some time now, that in addition to limited funds and the fact that Coral Bay is not in the public eye as much as Yacht Haven, wrecks and other eye sores have been allowed to remain where they are. This “new” idea of a development is not going to flood their coffers with the funds and talent they need. As far as marine life is concerned, I feel the fish will be basically unaffected and that hammerhead shark spotted in Hurrucane Hole will not hesitate to swim on in.

  15. “It’s happening…” is a bit of a stretch given St. John history (road repairs, new ferries, etc.) Look at the renderings in the application…is that what we want Coral Bay to look like? And responding to some comments about those that are a little more into preservation than development moving to a third world country…maybe those that want more and more “development” should move to Florida. Or even St. Thomas. Because that is what Coral Bay will become if this happens.

  16. Its a matter of scale that most people are all up in arms about. We know we can’t stop progress, lets put in a reasonable (and maybe expandable if it is well accepted) marina into the bay. If the mitigation is properly negotiated maybe we will have a gas station, repair shop and a better place to dump our garbage included in a 50 slip develpoment. Lets scale it back and bring some needed services to the bay residents.

  17. Not surprised..Coral Bay will be just like Cruz bay. Another reason why I no longer visit ST john or St Thomas…more crowds and more unhappy locals…so many more lovely islands in the Caribbean. Glad I lived, on island, back when it was a bit rustic.

  18. I can see points on both sides of the argument and agree that the scale of the proposed project seems a bit large which would be my only hangup, but hey, I am not a developer or architect to criticize if the plans are good or maybe too big for the area.

    I do know that change and improvements are needed to the Coral Bay area for the reasons many have mentioned. Bring in business, create jobs, enhance the water quality and bay in general, boost the economy, provide better services and new services not even available in that area of the island. Increase charter and business on the water through ferry service or chartering, along with many other things which have been mentioned.

    I to love the vibe and community of Coral Bay, but really I believe everyone knows a lot can be done to improve things there. I know change is tough and I do not want the vibe of coral bay to go away, but at the same time I feel the project is being designed with the best of intentions for the environment, business/economy, St John and the Coral Bay community.

  19. I lived on St. John from 1986 to 1995, was a licensed building contractor + general partner in a small villa development. At that time there was approximately 2,000 hardy souls on the isle, kind of like “Mayberry RFD” with palm trees. Raw but spectacular in ways uncountable, St. John was a true gem in the Caribbean. I paid $48k for my property, one lot below the ridge which afforded a 200′ view.

    I still remember the particular day when building my house in Chocolate Hole North — when I blew into the huge conch-shell — and when a husband and wife from below the hill descended my driveway to ask, “if everything was okay.” Perplexed at their concern, they’d explained to me that by blowing on the conch-shell, I’d errantly alerted my neighbors that assistance was needed. And that was the moment when I thanked the Universe for bringing me to this paradise, this unspoiled island.

    None of us had brand new vehicles: older Jeeps and the like the norm. A fancy night out was to go the Fish-Trap or Café Roma, maybe to the restaurant at Gallows Point. We had a few little grocery stores, but we always had to go to St. Thomas to buy food, via putting our cars/Jeeps on the barge. I think it was just a few dollars for the trip, can’t quite recall.

    I remember the times when I would take the ferry to Red Hook, park my Jeep at one of the spaces nearest the dock, and actually leave the keys in the ignition. Upon my return, my Jeep was always as I’d left it. As well, I never locked my house.

    My best friends were West Indians, were my best workers, and the “Continentals” always disliked my affiliation with them. Although ignoring those comments, I nevertheless saw the writing on the wall. And as it came to pass, Hurricane Hugo proved to be the bellwether to St. John’s future, to where it stands today within the impasse of yet the final blow to what it once was and what it should still remain.

    But now, within the advent of yet another intrusion by greed-induced Carpetbaggers who don’t give a damn about anything but profit, the haven on Coral Bay is destined for ruin, and inanely so. I’m very familiar with two particular individuals who are involved with this Marina project, and I’m not surprised that it will become reality.

    But at what cost? Do you really believe that tis Marina will benefit the local Coral Bay population — that indigenous jobs will be created, that the construction process will not negatively affect the Bay’s environment? Do you envision that your property values will soar, that an influx of money via the wealthy yacht owners will improve the economy? Do you sincerely think that Barksdale + Summers, etc, actually give a damn about any of the above? If so, then look to the future, when the East End will be the next target for profit-driven individuals. Slowly but surely, St. John is becoming but a vestige of what it was meant to be; a respite from the world’s turmoil.

    And now, it’s epitaph appears to be forever sealed. I hate that its final happened.

    I still live in the Caribbean, a small town that reminds me so much of Cruz Bay in the old days. I can buy a pound of Tuna for $3, a big bag of organic grapes for $1. I can leave my keys in my Jeep and never lock the doors of my house. Yes, there are still places like this existing. And almost every day, I thank the universe for allowing that to be.

    But I still miss St. John, what it used to be.

    So, for all of you who do not want this Marina Project to exist, my best advice is to fight it in any way possible. And if you think that your voice will not be heard then raise it to a higher level, should you elect to preserve whatever is left of the island that is under virtual attack and will continue to be unless a rational scream is heard.

    • Thank you Ric.
      And please send us the location of the perfect spot. Not the tourist trap. We love St. John. We want to live there. Hate to see the development.

      • @Angela in Kentucky:

        Keep in touch via email: [email protected]

        Everything pretty-much stays the same where I live. Although protective of it, I’ll share some info with you at a later date.

        Btw, one could buy an acre in my locale with a 180′ sea-view for less than $60k. Not a lot of property available for sale, but they do appear from time to time. No realtors here to speak of. Good thing for that.

        Thanks for replying to my post,


    • My husband and I have been coming to STJ for 15 years, and we are upset about the Marina project. If this goes forward, we have discussed finding another paradise. Ric, would love to know where you have found your paradise.

      As Ric says, if you are against this project, speak up. Silence is not golden!

      • Hi Karen,

        My initial purpose in posting was to enlighten those who mistakenly think that St. John will somehow retain its original flavor — even within this abomination of a project conveniently proposed under the auspices of “progress.” And for those who maintain that fanciful predilection, the reality remains that the island is under a full-frontal assault by folks who only adhere to the bottom-line of profit.

        It may come-to-pass that Barksdale + Summers are merely acting as point for the actual investors, who may appear at a later time in the media. As this debacle proceeds, we shall see.

        When Hurricane Hugo hit the island in 1989, I saw the beginning of the end. Droves of State-siders came to St. John, saying that they didn’t realize that the USA had Caribbean territories, and thought that St. T, St. C + St. J were British isles. Although maybe hard to believe that, it’s the truth.

        You’re invited to stay in touch with me at: [email protected].

        Great day to you,

  20. Ric- thank you for sharing your experience and your eloquence- what you wrote inspired me to share.

    We have been coming to St. John for 13 years. Have been staying in the Coral Bay area instead of Cruz Bay for about the last 8. We have noticed changes in that brief time- not all great and certainly not dramatic compared to other’s longer experiences. We like seeing the water, trees, other islands from our villa rental in Coral Bay. Seeing more buildings, a big marina, shops, etc. definitely makes my heart drop.

    The first time we came to St. John, we hiked down to Honeymoon Bay late in the day. The quiet beauty of that small bay moved me to tears. Many of my happiest memories and experiences are on St. John, and I have a stipulation in my Will that my family are to celebrate my life and spread my ashes there in St. John after I die.. This is how much our time in St. John has meant to me. I know there are others who visit year after year who feel the same way.

    One year, we almost decided not to come back because we noticed an increase of a certain type of tourist to the beaches- ones that were not terribly respectful of the beaches or of the coral reefs. That was also the year of the motorcycle racing noise almost every night on the road below our rental villa on the East end. But we decided to come back, shrugged off those few issues with the hope that the St. Thomas and Florida crowd would go back to those places and that some reasonable entity would stop the locals from the motorcycle racing. And for the most part, we have noticed those issues improving. We also notice an increase in tourists similar to us, who are 40 something couples with no kids who have money, like to snorkel, the wildlife, the plants, and go to get away from the noise, traffic, people that crowd our daily lives.

    We do not resent more people coming to St. John over the years and we get that there needs to be growth/development. We encourage St. John business owners to appeal to the type of tourist who wants to preserve and maintain what St. John is all about. We get that we cannot rent our cheap, beat up, trusty little 2 door Tracker anymore for $45-50 a day, that the people coming to the island apparently demand big, new 4 door Jeeps that cost $75-$90 a day and barely fit on the roads. We get it and we are willing to pay. But how far can you push the loyalty to this beautiful place? Will this marina increase taxes to the area? Will a new water system, improved roads, etc. increase taxes for residents? will that in turn increase the cost of villa rentals dramatically? and of course any construction effects the environment, the water quality, the sea-life- even if it is for short term.

    it comes down to this– how much income does non-marina tourism bring to Coral Bay? has anyone put numbers on paper as to how much increased business this marina will bring? have they compared it to what they may lose? 20-30 more years of us coming once a year and spending between $5000 and $8000 each trip. and we only come for 1 week and are 1 couple who bring other family occasionally. what about all those other people like us?

    increased noise + increased people due to new marina + increased cost + a less beautiful view of the bay from the hilltop villa rental + having to wait 30 minutes for a table at skinny legs because of the people sailing into the marina? lots of little things that add up to us and many others deciding to spend their money elsewhere for vacation. what is that going to do for your local economy and job growth for your youth?

  21. I share other people’s concern about the scale of the proposed marina and development and I love the quaint charm of Coral Bay. But let’s face it: Coral Bay is filled with derelict boats and wrecks that are far from “charming.” Is there any realistic plan for clearing out these eyesores? And what about the liveaboards which haven’t moved in years but continually dump their sewage into the bay? Any plan at any level to clean this up or enforce any environmental standards?

  22. Planning a trip there next month to find a place to live. To destroy this bay would be a travesty. This is such a beautiful spot on earth that should not be touched in any manner.

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