|By Karen Hollish, The Virgin Islands
Daily News, St. ThomasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 20, 2011--As part of its alternative-investment portfolio, the V.I. Government Employees Retirement System is planning to build a hotel and conference center on St. Thomas and a housing development on St. Croix.
On Thursday, GERS board members who met on St. Croix received the latest updates on the plans for both projects from Jaredian Design Group.
Further along is the St. Thomas project, which calls for developing 120 acres on the south side of Weymouth-Rhymer Highway, next to PriceSmart. GERS purchased the Estate Hoffman Nulliberg property, which extends across Nulliberg Hill to Estate Bolongo, in 2005.
John Woods from Jaredian told board members that he is in the process of developing a "conceptual design" based on land use and market studies. The economic projections, Woods said, suggest that the level of hotel that could succeed there would be on par with a Marriott Courtyard or Hilton Garden Inn.
Plans include an 18,000-square-foot convention center that could accommodate outside groups of between 1,200 and 1,500 people, as well as office spaces, Woods said.
On St. Croix, GERS has started to plan for developing 150 acres it owns in Estate Coakley Bay into a residential subdivision, family homes and assisted living facilities. GERS purchased the property, which is on the northeast edge of the island, in 2010, GERS public information officer Lorraine Gumbs-Morton said after the meeting.
Woods said the higher parts of the property, which have "fantastic views" of St. Croix's east end, should contain the subdivision, while the lower-lying areas would be more suited for family housing and assisted living quarters.
The plans are all "very preliminary," as it was only last month that Jaredian staff and GERS officials toured the property together for the first time, Gumbs-Morton said.
Woods said he will have more concrete plans for both projects ready in about 30 days.
The projects will help to diversify GERS' investment portfolio, Gumbs-Morton said. The retirement system currently is struggling: In April, its expenses were $8,927,114 more than its revenues, and GERS' year-to-date deficit is $47,365,428, according to a staff report released Thursday.
The two projects, Gumbs-Morton said, could help improve GERS' bottom line.
"That would definitely be an added benefit to our members," she said.
- Contact Karen Hollish at 774-8772 ext. 304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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