June 22, 2004 – A ceremony formally introducing the public to new homeownership opportunities is set to take place Wednesday on St. John. The Bellevue Village Apartments are being built by Reliance Housing Foundation, and construction is under way.
Bellevue when completed will offer 72 rental units, apartments of one to four bedrooms in two-story structures. Sen. Celestino A. White Sr., a longtime advocate of affordable housing for the territory's low- and medium-income residents, says qualified second-floor tenants will in the future have an opportunity to buy their two-unit buildings.
The groundbreaking ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday. Jerry Karcher, project manager for Benton Construction, said work at the 17-acre site began several weeks ago. "The groundbreaking is somewhat late," he said. "We're really into construction right now. We've done quite a bit of earth work."
Along Route 104 near Pine Peace School, roads have been cut in to the Bellevue site. Four concrete cistern bottoms and slabs were poured last week. Work is expected to be completed by next spring. Financing of about $20 million for the project is being arranged with the help of the V.I. Housing Authority.
As an incentive to the developer, the Planning and Natural Resources Department is allowing the developers to hire their own inspectors in order to prevent construction from bogging down. According to White, DPNR "has approved the Continuous Special Inspector provision for Bellevue, which will allow Bellevue to hire local, licensed electricians and plumbers and installers."
The installers, electricians and plumbers will be paid by the developer but will have to be approved by DPNR, White said.
This is not an unprecedented approach. DPNR approved the special hiring of private inspectors for the construction of the Home Depot superstore on St. Thomas. Similarly, private inspectors are being utilized in the Crown Bay Marina expansion and the construction of an adjacent shopping complex.
Reliance Housing Foundation, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., also was the developer of the 99-unit Lovenlund Apartments complex on St. Thomas that was completed in March. For more information about the foundation and its projects in the Virgin Islands, visit the "Properties" page of the Reliance Housing Web site.
Robert Jackson, Reliance president, says each Bellevue apartment will have ceramic tile flooring and a modern kitchen with major appliances. Units will range from 700 to 1,600 square feet, each with a deck and patio. Rents are expected to range between $524 and $722 a month.
Reliance will begin accepting applications for residency on Saturday. Qualified residents with annual incomes of $22,200 to $36,840 are encouraged to apply. Applications can be downloaded from the Reliance Housing Web site and printed out. They must be submitted via postal mail.
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