Real Estate Update: price cuts

After a short-lived reduction in the number of houses for sale on the Multiple Listing Service, inventory is climbing again.  In the past week, three residences went on the market, boosting the total to 90 – near the record of 91. 

At least one major real estate firm on island has reduced prices on three properties in its printed ad, and s fourth is marked as having an "anxious owner."

Businesses for sale and commercial offers have increased almost 30% thanks, in prt, to the re-listing of Voyages de St. Jan, formerly an upscale restaurant in a terrible location for an upscale restaurant.  Space on the first and second floors is being subdivided into condominiums for office or retail use. 

Ronnie’s Rolling Pin, a pizza place and bakery, is also on the market again, although I swear when I drove by this week I saw a laundromat there.  I’ll look again.

An additional 10 land lots have also been added to the market.

Center near Westin still on the market

Even though the "For Sale" sign was removed over the weekend, Palm Plaza, a small shopping center a few blocks from the Westin resort is still for sale.  It’s offered by Calabash Real Estate of St. Croix at $2.6 million. 

The sales pitch for the two-story commercial property is that it’s "the perfect condominium conversion project."  Maybe so. 

Palm Plaza was a retail-hit several years ago when it opened, anchored by a wonderful gourmet deli.  When new owners moved in and went to work, vacancies among the other (maybe) dozen units began to appear.  Then the developer of the center sold Palm Plaza – to those gaming people from St Croix, and now they have it for sale. 

Calabash is also advertising "The Lantern" at Cruz Bay.  It’s half an acre, priced at $3.5 million, with "A site map, floor plans, elevations and permits available for developers to build 15 luxury condominiums."

Speaking of short term visits

The Wall Street Journal reports the Caribbean cruise business has grown to "unprecedented levels" with nearly 1.8 million people pouring onto island beaches, up from 700,000 in 2001.  Great for Carnival and Disney, not so good for folks looking for a quiet place in the sun.

The commissioner of the VI Department of Tourism likes cruise people, but loves resort and villa vacationers.  They spend four times as much as the boat people, says Pamela C. Richards.  However, she reports, each ship that docks brings about $200,000 to $400,000 of "immediate economic impact."  And, some days, there are half a dozen ships in Charlotte Amalie harbor.

WindjamSt. John gets very few cruise ships – we’ve seen only one multi-sailed Windjammer in the last two weeks. The Journal does say that, while "St. Thomas sees the majority of cruise arrivals, many (people) take day trips to St. John."

More press for St. John

The New York Times spent 36 hours on St. John.  And an exhausting time was had by all, I’m sure. 

Start at Joe’s Rum Hut at Wharfside, then Woody’s (where they actually went to eat!!. Then on the second day, a picnic to go from Dolphin and snorkeling at Watermelon Cay, lunch at Skinny’s in Coral  Bay, shopping at Cocoloba Center, Miss Lucy’s for dinner. Sunday, Chilly Billy’s for brunch and shopping in Cruz Bay. 

I’d be pooped.

Suggestions for a short-term stay like this: Caneel Bay, Westin Resort, Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay.  The article is online at http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/02/24/travel/escapes/24hour.html?incamp=article_popular_5

New Mongoose restaurant a work in progress

Mongoose_3In the past year, there’s been some apparent progress on opening a new restaurant at Mongoose Junction

A two-story building has is being completed where there was a large outdoor dining area. Looks like the concrete building will be the restaurant’s new kitchen.The old main under-cover bar and restaurant has been cleared. In its place is a swanky-looking indoor bar and bandstand.  ]The setting is beautiful, and the area is quite large.  This could be the site of the island’s next, upscale restaurant and perhaps even a nightclub.  Is the island about to get a "star" chef?

Sunday brunch at Miss Lucy’s


MisslucysMiss Lucy’s in Coral Bay is unique – and hardly unknown.  Despite being a 40-minute drive from Cruz Bay, it was packed Sunday.  Could be folks staying in the increasing number of villas on the East End, or it could be years of offering a perfect way to spend Sunday morning.

Eggs Benedict under a seagrape tree, while musicians softly play light jazz under their own branches, while you sip a spicy bloody Mary … it doesn’t get much better – anywhere.  I can’t think of another place on the island you can have a brunch, or dinner, six feet from the water. Fellow diners are in good spirits, everybody knows they’ve found something special.

If you want a table outside, you better get there by 9:15am – brunch is served 10a-2p.  We got there at 10:30, and there wasn’t an outside space available for an hour.  Parking is also tough.

New police cars

My tax dollars on the move. 

Shiny, new-looking dark blue and white SUVs, cruising the south and north shore roads, always it seems with flashing blue lights.  To alert the bad guys they’re in the neighborhood?  To show neighbors they’re on the job?  I don’t know. 

But if the cars are not being  continuously washed and buffed outside the Cruz Bay police station, they’re on the roads blinking blinking, always blinking.

Whale watches in jeopardy

An annual series of efforts to espy whales off St. Thomas and St. John is iffy right now, due to the
sale of the 50-foot catamaran that;’s been used in past years.  Last year, there were four sailings; no whales were seen.

Dalma Simon, activities coordinator for the Environmental Association of St. Thomas-St. John said the group is negotiating with boat owners to find a substitute.  Several species of whales migrate each year from the upper Atlantic Ocean to the warmer waters of the Caribbean in February and March.

In fact, a whale was spotted off St. John about two weeks ago, and the News published a photograph. 

If a boat can be found, watches are scheduled for Mar 4, 5 and 19, she told the Virgin Islands Daily News

Cost U Less to expand

St. John’s version of Wal-Mart is expanding. the seven-year-old "warehouse club-like" retailer on St.

Cost U Less has begun expanding the 38,000 square foot store by 6,000 feet.  The company’s chief financial officer said the store will add services such as a broader selection of produce.  The goal is to create more of a "supermarket" operation, instead solely bulk sales, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.  New refrigeration equipment, meat cases and lighting will be added. More types of goods, from good to furniture, will be added. There will also be additional checkout lines.