Waterfront plea: ‘Not like St. Thomas’

Nearly a dozen ideas for developing the Cruz Bay waterfront, from the Creek to the harbor were discussed at Town Meeting Monday Night. 

About 125 people turned out for the session sponsored by the Island Administrator, the Chamber of Commerce, and Sen. Craig Barshinger.



In its report of the meeting (full story here), the St. John Source said architect Robert de Jongh showed seven different plans he drew up at the request of the V.I. Port Authority.  Each included new parking and retail as well as moving the Customs building.

Some people in the audience complained that the proposals involved a lot of concrete.  One person said he didn't think Cruz Bay should look like St. Thomas' Havensight Mall, the strip shopping center where cruise ships dock.

Two St. Johnians, Steve Black and Paul Devine, offered their own thoughts on\waterfront redevelopment. They both urged that there be marinas

34 thoughts on “Waterfront plea: ‘Not like St. Thomas’”

  1. I completely agree with the person who said Cruz Bay shouldn’t look like Havensight Mall. I look at St. John as a respite from the development of St. Thomas.

  2. They NEED to leave Cruz Bay alone…its PERFECT just as it is…part of the appeal of STJ is that it isn’t overly commerical…if it ain’t broke DON’T fix it…

  3. I agreee…..PLEASE leave Cruz Bay as is!! It is the best place on earth and all this crazy development takes away from St John’s magic!

  4. We need a Marina!!!! Not a Havensight Mall REDO!! More like a mini Red Hook!
    Boats bring commerce without cars, we all know how bad the parking is already. We need a pump out station. Alreay required by law
    Capt Ted

  5. An agreement on what a long term goal is step one, and then work back from that end point. Anything that conforms to the earlier step is a legit idea, and can be considered. At each step disagreements can be encouraged but anything going back to a previous step should not be (other than a significant error)…otherwise you have chaos.

  6. We visit St. John every year for two weeks and every year we say, “when it gets as conjested as St. Thomas, we’re not coming back.” Please keep this piece of paradise from turning into a concrete island!

  7. I have visited St. John twice in the last four years and can not believe the magic that the island has. If you build it up and make it more commercialized then you will slowly start taking that “magic” away from the island that draws a lot of people there.

  8. Keep St John as close to the way it is…that’s the draw; the appeal of this island. We are frequent visitors to the island & LOVE it here. Once it gets overly commercialized, we’re not coming here anymore – its the reason we don’t go to St Thomas….way too overdone.
    St John the way it is is the reason this island has its ‘magic’….don’t mess with this formula – once you do, you’ve ruined its unique appeal.

  9. Please leave Cruz Bay just as it is, there are enough shops in St John already, peace and quiet and serenity are the reasons people visit St John. I’ve been going there now every year for more than 28 years, and little by little it has become more developed. Enough already, I agree with one of the other comments, any more development and I’ll start searching for a “new” place to relax…

  10. We have vacationed on St. John almost annually for the past 20 years. The attraction has always been the slower pace, the islandy feel and the LACK of commercialism. It takes a good day for us to travel to St. John and we have always felt it worth the time and effort it takes for us to get there. Grand Bay and some other half baked development sites have already begun to threaten the “feel” of St. John. Please don’t destroy the island’s attraction with more “progress.”

  11. Ahhhhhh …. Cruz Bay – you just gotta love it. It bestows a sense of serenity that I have not found anywhere else. I am a architect as well as a small developer and I say, leave it as is. I do agree with the addition of a marina but the charm needs to stay the same. Maybe renovating the current structures one at a time is a viable option, but I still say, leave it as is.

  12. Since first being introduced to St. John in 1974 it has beed my favorite island anywhere! Changing it would mean detrying everything that people love. The problem in the world is that developers ruin everything out of greed! We come here and go to Telluride, CO because of the locally owned stores and restaurants, otherwise we would stay home and go down the street to the same mall we could find anywhere.
    Stay strong, do not change!

  13. Since first being introduced to St. John in 1974 it has beed my favorite island anywhere! Changing it would mean detrying everything that people love. The problem in the world is that developers ruin everything out of greed! We come here and go to Telluride, CO because of the locally owned stores and restaurants, otherwise we would stay home and go down the street to the same mall we could find anywhere.
    Stay strong, do not change!

  14. OMG, please leave STJ alone! There’s no other island like it and that’s what is so refreshing and perfect. Don’t ruin an absolutely wonderful place!!!!!

  15. A small marina with a 3 day maximum stay and a pump out station.
    2 hour parking spaces would be a great help.
    We don’t need more retail space.

  16. It wasn’t until I visited the Abacos and the Exumas that it became apparent that in my mind, St. John has become St. Thomas and St. Thomas, San Juan.
    I stopped visiting St. Thomas years go – preferring instead to immediately hop on a boat for St. John. Pour more concrete on St. John and I’ll skip the USVI altogether.

  17. Don’t do it. Leave it alone, or at minimum keep it with the island flare of specialty shops, local artisans and art work, bistros, and healthy eateries. It does not need a ton of jewelry and liquor stores. Tourists can go to St. Thomas for that. Keep the island vibe. Add a beach bar, live on JVD. The beach, a hammock and a frozen libation is all we need. The idea is to come to an island to relax and get away from civilization, eat good food, enjoy a few drinks, time with friends or the company of a good book, while listening to the palm trees sway.

  18. I agree that St. John should not have more retail stores. The stores that are here are barely getting by. I do think a marina would be the answer as it would bring in revenue to the existing stores and NO more cars! The revenue-producing boating industry must by-pass St. John because there is no where to slip a boat. Port Authority would gain revenues as would local businesses.

  19. Where would they be taking the pump out station product??
    Where do they want Customs to move to??
    Moorings are more attractive than a Marina.
    Please no more Bulkheads. Do not allow the Grande Bay type development anywhere near the harbor.

  20. STJ doesn’t need more concrete or a shopping center/tents. It needs clean up of the trash areas; the rusted dumps, etc. that make the island look like garbage is the first priority of the island than vegetation…don’t commercialize the area; just clean it up abit.

  21. Please leave St John the way it it. I come down there several time a year just to get away from the fast pace and enjoy sitting around Woody’s and the Beach bar. Where can you go and just sit relax and be comfortable with tons of people rushing around you and making it more like St Thomas just ruins the charm of the island. I love coming there and knowing that there are no high commercial shops. There are just enough shop there and yes parking is a problem but they have added a new parking lot which seems to help. I agree with the others LEAVE ST JOHN ALONE PLEASE

  22. Trust me if you ruin this paradise you will not get rich! people simply will stop coming. St. John is loved because of its simplicity. St. John is NOT BROKE, SO DON’T FIX IT!

  23. We all know they are going to screw it up. That’s what urban planners and conventional architects usually do. They don’t know any better. But with fingers crossed…
    I hope they put a small marina where Steve has mentioned but leave moorings in Cruz Bay. I am blown away that the EPA has not demanded pump out stations in Cruz and Coral 20 years ago. Get real folks.
    If I was king for a day everything else new in Cruz Bay would be historically minded in design and feel, especially if/when they get rid of the school. Winding small lanes with no cars etc. Hell I’d look up the folks who created the Caribbean lagoon at Treasure Island in 1993 for some ideas. No I don’t want Vegas but those folks knew design and what’s possible for small waterfronts. Otherwise we are going to end up with a strip mall waterfront with no character. Sail around the Carib if you don’t believe me.
    Stuff like Grande Bay is Architect 101. The stone building next to it is going to be much more beautiful. Mongoose will be here long after these other places are torn down. Sadly most of the property is publicly owned so the contracts will not go to the most creative but to the most connected.
    Take pictures so you remember how it used to be!

  24. Have just visited Grand Bahama Island and spoke with many islanders who are still suffering significantly because of hurricanes from over 3 years ago. Many of the retail stores were damaged and never re-opened but they do get an economic boost from people who visit on private yachts. Part of me feels that a small marina near the car ferry landing (with stay limits and strictly controlled environmental regs) might help the island but the other part of me has seen the idiots who use the marina at Havensight and breeze in and out with no respect to the island’s limited resources. Very tough call but I agree with other writers that Cruz Bay should be left alone.

  25. St. John is perfect just the way it is — do NOT add more development. The reason the tourists come to STJ is because of it’s laid back nature, it’s natural beauty. Add more development, the island will diminish in beauty, thus losing tourists which in turn will only hurt the island.


  27. Please leave STJ the way it is, I first visit it in November 2009 and never felt such serenity, I love the Beach Bar, if I could live there I would, leave it simple and people will come. There may be some minor changes needed for the marina but don’t turn it into St Thomas. I love the simple life and island vibe.

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