Land use and urban planning experts representing ULI will be making recommendations to the Virgin Islands Housing Authority on creating a long-term plan for rebuilding the territory’s St. Croix district to increase the resilience of the built environment, revive the district’s economy, and reinforce its appeal to residents as well as visitors.
ULI representatives, convened through ULI’s Advisory Services, program will be in St. Croix in June. The Advisory Services panel’s work is an initial step in a long-range process to create an integrated approach to recovery and reconstruction efforts, and to reach community consensus on how the district—in particular Christiansted—should evolve over the next several years.
The panel was requested by the Virgin Islands Housing Authority in consultation with the Virgin Islands government and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority, and its work will be informed by rebuilding initiatives already in place to address damage from the 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as the economic loss resulting from the closure of the Hovensa oil refinery, which was a major employer. Panelists will be considering issues related to placemaking, mobility, economic development, and affordable housing, including identification of the following:
- resilient strategies to diversity the economy of St. Croix to help strengthen Christiansted and surrounding neighborhoods;
- improvements to pedestrian and transportation links to allow residents and visitors easier access to neighborhood assets, the beachfront, and Christiansted’s central business district;
- optimal strategies to help diversify the economy of St. Croix with a specific focus on Christiansted, including industry sectors that could be a good fit for the local economy, enhance resilience, and create jobs;
- finance tools that could bolster future economic development in St. Croix;
- investments to align training offered through high school and post–high school programs to create a diverse, sustainable workforce;
- ways to ensure that a strategic economic development vision drives housing affordability goals and innovation;
- the appropriate mix, location, design, and scale of workforce- and senior-supportive housing; and
- ways to make the design and development of workforce housing a catalyst for revitalizing St. Croix.
Carlton Brown, principal at Direct Invest in New York City, will be the panel chairman. “We’re excited to bring ULI’s expertise to St. Croix,” Brown said. “We’ll be considering a broad range of options to increase economic growth and tourism, improve employment prospects and the quality of life for residents, and enhance the island’s resilience to severe weather. Each of these factors is a key component of a successful future for this iconic community.”
Brown will be joined by: Nick Egelanian, president and founder, SiteWorks Retail Real Estate, Annapolis, Maryland; R. David Gibbs, renewable energy consultant, Brooklyn, New York; Robin Hughes, president and chief executive officer, Abode Communities, Los Angeles; Sandra Kulli, president, Kulli Marketing, Los Angeles; April Anderson Lamaroux, president, Strategic Advisors LLC, Boston; Amie MacPhee, founder and owner, Cultivate Studio, San Francisco; Kim Morque, principal and president, Spinnaker Real Estate Partners, Norwalk, Connecticut; Mehul Patel, chief operating officer, Midwood Investment and Development, New York City; and Adam Weers, principal, Trammell Crow Company, Washington, D.C.
During the week, the panel will tour Christiansted and other areas of the island and interview a variety of stakeholders in the community before developing a set of recommendations that will be presented at the conclusion of the panel’s visit.
Now in its 71st year, the ULI Advisory Services program assembles experts in the fields of real estate and land use planning to participate on panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex planning and development projects, programs, and policies. Panels have developed more than 700 studies for a broad range of land uses, ranging from waterfront properties to inner-city retail development.
According to Thomas Eitler, senior vice president of the Advisory Services program, the program’s strength lies in ULI’s unique ability to draw on the substantial knowledge of its 40,000-plus members, including land developers, engineers, public officials, academics, lenders, architects, planners, and urban designers. “The independent views of the panelists bring a fresh perspective to the land use challenge,” Eitler said. “The Advisory Services program is all about offering creative, innovative approaches to community building.”
Past sponsors of ULI Advisory Services panels include federal, state and local government agencies; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment authorities; private developers and property owners; community development corporations; lenders; historic preservation groups; nonprofit community groups; environmental organizations; and economic development agencies.