There is much excitement and anticipation surrounded the prospects for development on St. Croix! Recently, local officials gathered at an industry forum on St. Thomas and addressed an audience of over 60 professionals including airport operators, terminal developers, contractors, architects and investment bankers. St. Croix will be a key factor in the wider territorial development strategy due to the large potential for growth that exists. The Chair of the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA), Willard John said “St. Croix is the future of development in the USVI”.
At the forum, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. said “St. Croix airport has the most potential.” The revamped Henry Rohlsen airport has completed phase 1 renovation of the domestic passenger lounge and additional private-public funded projects to modernize the airport terminals and infrastructure will be next. There are 400 acres across the road that creates “opportunity galore”, for hotel and other tourism-related business as well as for cargo and other commercial operations according to speakers from VIPA.
In addition, the following expansion and redevelopment projects on island were highlighted by the Governor as “steady tourism development:
The sale and integration of King’s Alley Hotel and King Christian
The recently opened rebranded Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort and Casino
St. Croix’s ever popular Agriculture and Food Fair, also known as Agrifest, has returned with its 51st installment and back to its former glory! Since 1971, this three-day agricultural festival has attracted attendees from all over the world to the island to experience everything rooted in agriculture from locally grown fruits and vegetables to livestock, arts and crafts and local cuisine. Agrifest has returned to its original February dates which occur over President’s Day weekend. In prior years, devastating hurricanes and the recent global pandemic resulted in the event being postponed to Memorial Day weekend. The 2023 Agrifest will take place from Saturday, February 18th through Monday, February 20th at the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agricultural Complex in Estate Lower Love. This year’s theme is “Agriculture: Growing Today for Tomorrow…You, Me, All Ah We… in 2023.” As food security becomes an important topic withing the Virgin Islands community, the theme shines a light on our need to focus on food sovereignty for locals and residents of the territory.
The rich, cultural experiences of St. Croix’s AgriFest are centered around the four F’s: food, fun, family and friends. Upon entry onto the fairgrounds, a myriad of captivating sights and invigorating smells welcome you with spirited delight. On the west side of the fairgrounds in the main exhibition hall is where the farmers market is held. This is where attendees will see an assortment of fruits, vegetables and spices with an assortment of plants on display and many available for sale. Several exhibits sponsored by local schools, youth groups, the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, and the US Department of Agriculture can also be found on display.
There is no shortage of fun activities for Agrifest-goers. The livestock exhibits feature goats, chickens, rabbits and peacocks. Stop in at the petting zoo for an up-close-and-personal time with island wildlife, have your little one ride a donkey or enjoy one of the carnival rides for an extra dose of fun. Give your ears a treat with the sweet-sounding tunes from local musicians performing throughout the day and learn something new at any of the informational booths throughout the fairgrounds educating attendees on a variety of agriculture-focused topics.
“This is a true Virgin Islands reunion,” said U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture Commissioner Positive T.A. Nelson. “This is where you see it all – our traditions, our food, and our people.” Get your fill of local delicacies: one-pot dishes like kalalloo, red peas soup and crab & rice, sweet treats such as gooseberry and tamarind stews, tamarind balls, vienna cake and butter cookies and hearty plates of roast pork, stew chicken and conch in butter sauce with the crucial Crucian trimmings of season rice, baked macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and potato stuffing. Pair your meal with a tall glass of tamarind juice, bush tea lemonade, ginger beer, peanut punch or passion fruit juice. Come out and celebrate the 51st annual VI Agrifest from February 18th to February 20th. Admission is $6 Adults, $5 Seniors, $4 Children 12 and under; Three days passes are available for $12 Adults, $10 Seniors, $8 Children 12 and under. The fair will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit https://viagrifest.org.
Article written by Anquanette Gaspard (email@example.com) for Coldwell Banker, St. Croix Realty
Whether it’s your first time, or you are dreaming of a revisit, this is a great opportunity to visit St. Croix (for less). Escape from winter cold weather and snow and take advantage of the air credits and discounted room accommodation rates now available for a vacation to sunny St. Croix! The V.I. Dept. of Tourism introduced discounted air and hotel packages for travel to USVI that provide travelers with $200 per person air credits and 10 percent savings at selected hotels and resorts with a five-night minimum stay. Bookings made through March 1, 2023, for travel through April 30, 2023.
Why visit St. Croix?
The U.S. Virgin Islands has received top honors from several prestigious media companies for 2023 and accolades for a successful 2022. Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine, Yahoo! Life and Frommers all underscored the territory for its ease of travel and new developments. Condé Nast Traveler highlighted the USVI as one of the Best Places to Go in 2023; Travel + Leisure ranked USVI as one of the 50 best destinations to travel to thanks to our beach vibes.
Since the USVI is an American territory, no passports are required to enter St. Croix. Major airlines, including American, Delta, Spirit, and Jetblue, offer direct daily flights from the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico to St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (check airlines for the latest itineraries).
Winter Air and Hotel Package Details (book by March 1, 2023!)
Bookings must be made through the participating hotels using the VIBE2023 promotion code. This offer is for people over 16 years of age, does not apply to current reservations, and must be packaged as air and hotel together with back-to-back room nights. Bookings without purchase of a flight to St. Croix do not qualify.
Dream of owning a home?Are you in a moderate income household?Do you need help in financing a mortgage?
Back in October, we mentioned a collaboration with Governor Albert Bryan Jr, the Office of Disaster Recovery, and the EDA in partnership with local banks and mortgage companies to help residents a new home loan program for moderate income Virgin Islanders. Starting January, the V. I. Economic Development Authority (EDA) has opened the V.I. Slice Moderate-Income Homeownership Program. The VI Slice program aims to help residents who wants to be a homeowner and need some help to make their first home purchase. It is a homeownership assistance program created to provide eligible, moderate-income families with up to $200,000 in gap financing on a down payment, closing costs for buying or rehabilitating a home, or the cost of constructing a home on land the resident owns.
To be eligible for Slice, applicants on St. Croix must have at least an annual income of $43,501; on St. Thomas, $45,000, and on St. John, $47,000. For residents who are interested in the program, we encourage you to visit the new VI Slice website: www.vislice.com, where one can find information on how the program works, its eligibility requirements, and how an applicant can use the program’s funds.
The website also includes a directory of participating local banking institutions and mortgage companies (below are the organizations listed on January 24, please see the www.vislice.com/lenders website as information may change over time).
National Heritage Areas (NHA) are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. There has been only 21 areas in the US with this designation, and we are so excited to hear that St. Croix has been added in 2023! For nearly 20 years, many individuals, community groups, and stakeholders have worked tirelessly to achieve this designation according to Congresswomen Plaskett who first introduced legislation for the St. Croix National Heritage Area Act two years ago.
Congresswomen Plaskett announced in a press release on January 6, 2023:
“I am tremendously pleased to announce that President Biden signed S.1942, the National Heritage Area Act, which includes the designation of St. Croix as a National Heritage Area, into law on January 5, 2023. The effort to achieve this designation started with former Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen in 2003 with a bill to authorize a feasibility study for the NHA designation on St. Croix.
“The Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Office is the local coordinating entity and will oversee and develop programs and projects that recognize, protect, and enhance important resource values in the Heritage Area. The National Heritage Area designation provides funding to develop recreational and educational opportunities to inform and engage our youth on the heritage of St. Croix.
“Before signing this legislation there were only 21 areas in the United States designated as National Heritage Areas. This is a tremendous boon for our beautiful, culturally rich home and an honor to our ancestors.”
Get a delicious fill of flavor at a St. Croix restaurant that’s been in business for almost 30 years! Zeny’s Restaurant originally opened its doors in 1996 on Company Street in downtown Christiansted. Named for its owner Zenaida Nunez, Zeny’s Restaurant is described as a Latin-infused restaurant serving the best in Latin and local foods. Open seven days a week, customers can find hearty dishes like stew chicken, conch in butter sauce, chicharron, stew beef, roast pork, mofongo and much more.
After several visits to the island, Zeny moved to St. Croix in 1989 after she fell in love with the scenery and the people. She always had a love for cooking which led to her opening her own restaurant after living and working in St. Croix for some time. Local people recall eating at Zeny’s for more than twenty years, heralding her food as consistently delicious. In 2015, the Company Street building that her restaurant occupied was sold and she relocated within days to her current location on King Street. “My customers kept asking me if they could come to my house to get food and I knew I had to find another place quickly!” Thankfully, her current location was vacant; she moved swiftly to get her restaurant operations in place to continue feeding the masses on St. Croix.
Guests can always expect great food and kind service at Zeny’s Restaurant. Oftentimes, Zeny herself is busy behind the counter taking phone and in-person orders, readying the plates for pickup or serving dine-in customers. Her calm and pleasant demeanor adds a level of comfort to the food, making the experience at the restaurant even more satisfying. According to Zeny, her famous Zeny Plate consists of chicharron – breaded chicken pieces – with fried tostones. “It’s what the people like – all of my chicken they love,” she expressed with a jovial smile. “The stew chicken is definitely the best seller, for sure.”
Visit Zeny’s Restaurant at 15 King Street in downtown Christiansted, open seven days a week from 11am-8pm. Call ahead to place your order or dine in; 340.773.4393.
Article written by Anquanette Gaspard (firstname.lastname@example.org) for Coldwell Banker, St. Croix Realty