St. John Tradewinds News

Reliance’s Calabash Boom Development Major CZM Application Complete

Calabash Boom Townhouse Front Elevation Rendering

A public hearing should be scheduled in late October on the 72-unit Calabash Boom affordable housing project planned by Reliance Housing Foundation. The major Coastal Zone Management application for the project was deemed complete in late August, according to Victor Somme, director of CZM for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR).

“The application has been deemed complete and it is currently being circulated to all relevant public agencies and private citizens for review and comment,” Somme told St. John Tradewinds. A public hearing must be scheduled within 60 days of the date the application was deemed complete, according to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ CZM Act. Since Reliance’s Calabash Boom development application was deemed complete on August 26, a public hearing should take place by October 26, but a definite date has not been set by CZM. The public hearing must be advertised in a newspaper of general circulation at least twice before the hearing, according to the CZM Act.

Reliance Housing Foundation, the affordable housing provider currently completing construction of Bellevue Village on Gift Hill, is partnering with the V.I. Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) on the Calabash Boom development which will include a total of 72 units in two distinct communities with shared infrastructure.

The first community consists of 24 for-sale, three bedroom townhouses in 12 two-story buildings developed by Reliance and managed by VIHFA. The other community planned consists of 48 for-rent apartments, including 12 two bedroom units, 24 three bedroom units and 12 four bedroom units in eight three-story buildings developed and managed by Reliance.

The existing Calabash Boom community center will be renovated and will include a meeting room with kitchen facilities and a computer lab. Reliance plans to build a waste water treatment plant and a reverse osmosis water plant on the site with effluent grey water to be used for irrigation.

Although sale prices for the 24 townhouses have not been set yet, they are restricted for sale to households with a maximum income of $93,750, according to information provided by Reliance.

Interested parties should obtain an application from the VIHFA office which is located in the Frostco Building in St. Thomas. Applications for the 48 apartments to be managed by Reliance will not be accepted until six months prior to construction completion, Reliance officials added. A lottery system, similar to the process at Bellevue Village, will be used with the Calabash Boom development and priority will be given to U.S.V.I. residents. The maximum household income for the rental apartments is $22,860 for one person, $26,100 for two people and $29,400 for three people, according to Reliance’s information booklet which was handed out at a March meeting in Coral Bay. The projected rent for a two bedroom unit is $672, $758 for a three bedroom unit and $807 for a four bedroom unit, according to the booklet.

Density Questioned, Defended
The project has come under scrutiny from neighbors who have questioned the density of the project and potential impacts on the environment and infrastructure. “The community as a whole needs to look at how much is too much; we feel that the development is too big relative to the area,” said Calabash Boom resident Bob McNabb in an August interview. The current plans do not exceed allowable density for the area, according to Reliance president Bob Jackson. “It should be noted that the designed density at Calabash Boom is at only 40 percent of the allowable density per the zoning code,” Jackson told Tradewinds in mid-August.