The architecture of our historic towns, namely our twin cities of Christiansted and Frederiksted, are the finest in the Caribbean. From our inception in the midst of the devastation of Hurricane Hugo, Community Revitalization has been a priority for the St. Croix Foundation. More than 20 years later, with a total investment of over $12 million dollars, we still firmly believe that the rehabilitation our towns will provide the economic stimulus to ensure a healthier and more livable community.
21st Century Community Revitalization
STIMULATING ECONOMIC POTENTIAL THROUGH PRIVATE SECTOR INCENTIVES
Today, we are working on pushing for further policy reform that will encourage the rebuilding of our towns. Our priorities in this area include:
- Increasing local tax credits for town rehabilitation;
- Increasing property taxes on dilapidated properties to motivate recalcitrant owners
- Requiring families to clear titles so that properties can either by sold or mortgaged for rehabilitation
- Selling the dilapidated properties where multiple owners refuse to clear titles
- Underwriting interest rates on mortgages for owners that wish to return to town as owner occupants
Investments with Deep Impact
The Foundation’s revitalization of our towns through major initiatives like the rehabilitation of Sunday Market Square and our Scrape, Paint, Rejuvenate Program, is testimony of our belief that healthy towns sustain healthy communities. The comprehensive nature of the Foundation’s efforts have recognized by the International Downtown Association and the Council on Foundations. For more information on how to support these efforts, please contact the Foundation today or donate today.
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Sunday Market Square
In 1998, through the acquisition of several abandoned buildings, previously owned by a bankrupt Community Development Corporation, St. Croix Foundation committed itself to reviving the once healthy commercial center historically known as Sunday Market Square.
As the official entrance to downtown Christiansted, Sunday Market Square, or “Times Square” as it is commonly referred to, for centuries served as a center of commerce and a communal meeting place for slaves and freed coloreds. It remained a gathering spot among St. Croix’s residents through the mid 1900s. However, after several decades of neglect and social decay, coupled with the devastation of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, the Square became host to seedy elements in the community. To date, St. Croix Foundation has restored four of our properties in Sunday Market Square all of which are now occupied with viable commercial businesses.
Scrape, Paint, Rejuvenate
As part of our commitment to rebuild our historic towns, St. Croix Foundation developed and implemented the Scrape, Paint, Rejuvenate Program in 2001, which provides grants to property owners in our historic town of Christiansted for exterior renovations. The program, which has been expanded to Frederiksted town on St. Croix and to Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, has awarded over $750,000 to over 300 property owners to rehabilitate their buildings as well as clear overgrowth and trash from vacant lots.
Enterprise Zone Tax Legislation
Because Community Development is a multi-faceted endeavor requiring both public and private sector participation, the Foundation strives to serve as a bridge between both sectors, examining successes elsewhere that can be replicated in our community. We are dedicated to presenting such public policy incentives encouraging residents to rehabilitate properties. In 1998, we initiated and advocated for the first Enterprise Zone tax credit legislation that went on to become law in 1999 under the Office of Historic Preservation. The legislation provides for tax incentives and economic-development benefits and is aimed at revitalizing blighted and distressed areas of the Virgin Islands, including Christiansted and Frederiksted on St. Croix and Savan on St. Thomas. In 2002, the Enterprise Zone Program was amended and reassigned to the V.I. Economic Development Authority.