Richards’ Parking Garage, Vendors Plaza Plan Moves Forward Despite Opposition

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The man who tried, unsuccessfully, to bring the first traffic light to St. John intends to start construction of the controversial Cruz Bay parking garage as soon as possible — despite concerted public opposition and continued attempts to find an alternate site.

Plans for the controversial proposed parking garage and vendor’s plaza to be built across from the Cruz Bay bulkhead are moving forward and construction could begin by late summer, according to Keith Richards, assistant to Governor Charles W. Turnbull for special projects.

Apex Construction, which has the design-build contract for the facility, is waiting to hear from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) about their possible occupation of the ground floor of the structure, Richards explained.

Post Office Possibility
“I have been talking to the Postal Service every day for the past few days,” Richards said. “They are trying to get more information from us about the project. They are still figuring out whether they will move there or not.”

The design for the project can not be completed until V.I. government officials receive a USPS decision, which is expected by the end of March, according to Richards.

“The design is on the way, but we have to wait for the negotiations with the Postal Service to be completed,” he said. “We need to know what specific features they will need.”

The parking garage and vendor’s plaza will be built regardless of the USPS decision, Richards added.

“If the post office doesn’t come, there will just be more room for vendors,” he said.

100 Spaces, Three Stories
The three-story parking facility will accommodate about 100 vehicles and at least three vendors on the government-owned land where Nature’s Nook and W&W Fast Food are currently located, according to Richards.

Nature’s and W&W are two of the vendors who will occupy space in the new facility. The third vendor has not been chosen, added Richards.

Many residents have voiced opposition to the proposed location of the much-needed parking facility. More than 1,000 residents have signed a petition against the current location and have offered alternate sites for the building, but government officials remain adamant about the project’s construction.

“We are absolutely going forward with this facility in this location,” said Richards. “We are open to additional locations to put an additional parking facility somewhere, but this project will go forward.”

“Absolutely” Will Be Built
Construction could begin by late summer, but it is still too soon to make renderings of the facility available to the public, Richards added.

“The design is still in the works,” he said. “As soon as it is completed, we’ll get the permit and start construction. We’ll make renderings public at the appropriate time.”

“We should be able to start construction late this summer,” Richards added.

Richards attempted to have the ill-fated first St. John traffic light installed in Cruz Bay several years ago – when he was in a different government position.

There are no plans to install the traffic light, which has remained in storage on the side of the Public Works Department facility in Estate Susannaberg, at Richards’ originally-intended location – the corner adjacent to his planned parking garage.