The Louis E. Brown Villas public housing community on St. Croix was originally built in 1970 with 436 public housing units. The site was damaged extensively during Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. As a result of the damage, Louis E. Brown long stood vacant and uninhabitable, with residents relocated into other public housing communities and with Housing Choice Vouchers.
In 2008, the Housing Authority embarked on a master planning effort to rebuild the community through a public-private partnership. In 2011, McCormack Baron Salazar was selected by the Housing Authority to join the project when it was already underway to help ensure the successful completion of the last two phases of the new community.
McCormack Baron Salazar completed Phase II of the community, the Louis E. Brown Senior Villas, in 2013. Phase III of the community has 90 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments for low-income families. With a total development cost of $32 million, the third phase also includes a 4,500 square foot clubhouse with management and leasing offices, a maintenance facility, library, a business and computer center, exercise room, two meeting room spaces, and an outdoor seating area.
The entire community is built with hurricane-resilient features and several energy efficiency and sustainability enhancements, including solar hot water heaters, high-efficiency lighting, and solar photovoltaic panels. Stormwater is reused across the site for potable water. The community employs a full-time supportive services coordinator to help resident access programs and services.
The new Louis E. Brown is not only changing the lives of its 232 families - it is also a successful demonstration of how to overcome the obstacles of building high-quality affordable housing in the islands.