March 27, 2003 – The Public Finance Authority board approved funding on Thursday for major initiatives which its members hope will boost the St. Croix economy. It also approved a loan of $7 million in working capital to the central government.
Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull, who by virtue of that position is a member of the PFA board, said the loan would go toward improving the government's cash flow.
Meeting Thursday afternoon and evening, the board approved issuing $41 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds as a way of encouraging a developer to build a convention center for St. Croix as part of a planned casino and resort complex.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who by his position chairs the board, told the other members that he had been visited earlier in the day by 11 members of the Legislature who urged him to support the measure, saying to do so would show his administration's willingness to jump start St. Croix's troubled economy.
"In spite of some reservations, I urge you to support this resolution," the governor told his fellow board members.
The bond issue resolution requires Golden Resorts, LLLP to obtain an irrevocable financing commitment of $95 million by Sept. 30. Should it fail to do so, the resolution would become null and void.
The Golden enterprise, owned by New Jersey casino developer Paul Golden, has proposed to build a 400-room hotel, a casino of at least 10,000 square feet, and an 18-hole golf course on some 265 acres at Great Pond Bay on St. Croix's southeastern coast. In October 2001, the Casino Control Commission "reserved" one of the island's two allowed Casino II licenses for a period of two years.
Approval of the bond issue and the intergovernmental transfer of $7 million were added to a five-item agenda laid out at the start of the meeting. The board also approved a payment of $1.63 million on the mortgage for the King's Alley Hotel and the expenditure of $2 million for renovations and repairs to the hotel, King's Alley Marina Bar and Restaurant, and King's Alley Walk.
The PFA assumed operation of the 23-room downtown Christiansted hotel and adjacent area of 16 shops and restaurants in July 2001 after foreclosing on a loan of about $3 million made six years earlier to Development Consultants Inc. to renovate the King's Alley area. It was the only loan given as part of a 1994 PFA bond issue set aside for ventures with the private sector.
On Thursday, the board also authorized a deal arranged through Lehman Brothers that would allow the PFA to issue up to $150 million in public bond proceeds.
There was also an amendment on a resolution to provide $2 million for historic rehabilitation and repair of the Old Danish School in Frederiksted.
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