Representatives from the Virgin Islands Housing Authority, McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority, and Virgin Islands Government Officials gathered with residents to break ground on the third and final phase of the Louis E. Brown Villas Redevelopment Project today.
The third phase of the new affordable housing community includes 90 family apartments -- 22 one-, 46 two-, and 22 three-bedrooms. Families will be able to rent apartments by qualifying under VIHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program for a project-based voucher. The $33,481,000 million development, designed by Steven E. Hutchins Architects, complements the style of the first and second phases of Louis E. Brown with balconies, courtyards, and climate-appropriate landscaping.
“This groundbreaking signals a major success in terms of public-private collaborations, but, more significantly, progress in expanding the quality of affordable, safe, available housing for low-income residents on St. Croix," explained Housing Authority Board Chair, Dr. Noreen Michael, Ph.D. “Every resident, regardless of socio-economic status, deserves the quality of housing that is being made available through Phase III of the Louis E. Brown Villas Project.”
The Louis E. Brown Villas Redevelopment Project effort is the largest ever undertaken by the Virgin Islands Housing Authority and overcame several unique challenges. These challenges are being addressed through mitigating high water and electricity costs through solar energy, solar hot water and water reuse, using resilient building techniques to diminish the threat from storms, and engaging local expertise to handle the logistics of obtaining raw materials and to capture Caribbean architectural style and colors.
“McCormack Baron Salazar, the Virgin Islands Housing Authority and the entire financing team is a prime example of public-private-community partnership at its best,” said Vince Bennett, President, McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc. “Louis E. Brown is a living example of how to build a resilient, sustainable affordable community that can remain beautiful, affordable, and desirable long into the future.”
In addition to the housing, Louis E. Brown will also include a 4,500+ square foot clubhouse facility containing the management and leasing offices, maintenance facility, library, computer and business center, exercise room, two very large educational and meeting room spaces, and an outdoor seating area. A separate laundry facility building is centrally located for walking access.
Meg Manley, Senior Vice President of McCormack Baron Salazar said, “The goal of this effort is to bring attractive, resilient housing options to low-income St. Croix residents. Faced with many challenges, not the least of which were the high costs of building materials and how to curtail high utility costs, the VIHA/McCormack Baron team has and will continue to be dedicated to achieving that goal.”
Louis E. Brown Villas Phase III was financed through equity generated from low income housing tax credits provided by the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority. Wells Fargo provided the equity as well as construction financing, and the Virgin Islands Housing Authority was the lender for predevelopment and land acquisition funding. Steven E. Hutchins Architects, Inc. is the Architect-of-Record and J. Benton Construction is the local General Contractor. Full occupancy is anticipated by the end of June, 2019.