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Virgin Islands Housing Authority and McCormack Baron Salazar celebrate grand opening of Phase III of Louis E. Brown Villas

June 23, 2020 | McCormack Baron Salazar

ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands - Phase III of the Louis E. Brown Villas is now complete and 90 hurricane-resilient family apartments are ready for occupancy, the Virgin Islands Housing Authority (VIHA) and McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc. (MBS) announced today at a limited-attendance Grand Opening at the community. The garden-style Phase III apartments join 102 family units that were completed at Louis E. Brown Villas in 2010 and 40 apartments for seniors that were completed there in 2013.

With a total development cost of $31 million, the new two-story apartments feature a full energy-efficient appliance package, ceiling fans, and ceramic tile flooring. Each apartment was designed for optimal air flow and cross ventilation and were finished with low-VOC interior paint and non-vinyl, non-carpet flooring for better air quality. Generous site amenities help make the community vibrant and livable, including an outdoor recreational field, meandering sidewalks for daily strolls, a small playground and pavilion, fencing, parking controls, a community room, exercise facility, a business center with computer lab, a library, central laundry facility, and on-site management offices. The property also offers off-street parking spaces. The community employs a full-time supportive services coordinator to help residents access healthcare and other support systems to improve their quality of life.

“Together with our partners, we have bounced back from two Category 5 hurricanes to completely transform the old Louis E. Brown with an attractive affordable housing model for today,” VIHA Executive Director Robert Graham said. “Every resident deserves this quality of housing to nurture their families, and with the support of Governor Bryan, we are on a roll to revitalize all of our communities on St. Croix.”

“We’re thrilled to bring Phase III of the Louis E. Brown Villas to fruition,” said Vincent Bennett, McCormack Baron Salazar president. “With access to support services and amenities, these apartments are more than just livable, they’re places where families can thrive. The community is built to withstand the island weather while bringing people together in a healthy and safe way.”

VIHA resident board commissioner Kaye Gumbs, who moved to the new community from hurricane-torn JFK Terrace, said Louis E. Brown Villas III gave her a career opportunity and a better lifestyle. Through a Section 3 program, Gumbs worked with the community’s general contractor, J. Benton Construction, and is now an employee.

“They gave me a chance and pushed me to learn something that I had no knowledge of,” she said. “Once I was able to get my hands on and actually do it, it was a very good experience.”

Located on the site of the former Louis E. Brown Villas that were built in 1970, Phase III has 22 one-bedroom, 46 two-bedroom and 22 three-bedroom units for low-income families. The entire development meets the Virgin Islands Housing Authority sustainability standards, with rooftop solar hot water heaters for each apartment, high-efficiency lighting, and solar photovoltaic panels sized to offset the cost of the clubhouse electricity usage. Storm water is reused across the site for potable water.