The V.I. Public Finance Authority is still trying to sell King’s Alley Hotel on St. Croix.
PFA board members on Wednesday voted to approve a resolution to authorize Authority’s staff to begin the process to sell or lease the King’s Alley Hotel and adjacent vacant lot that once housed the Anchor Inn, PFA spokeswoman Carol Burke said in a released statement.
The competitive negotiation process “will involve soliciting proposals from entities that previously expressed an interest in either or both properties, as well as neighboring hotel developers and operators and is authorized by both the board and the Authority’s procurement policies and procedures.”
The resolution received unanimous consent from the members present — Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., Office of Management and Budget Director Jenifer O’Neal, Acting Finance Commissioner Clarina Modeste-Elliot, and Keith O’Neale.
Bryan, who serves as PFA board Chairman, excused Attorney Dorothy Isaacs from the meeting.
The PFA has been trying unsuccessfully to sell the hotel for years, and in January 2020, the board met in executive session behind closed doors “to discuss certain legal matters relative to offers to purchase the King’s Alley Hotel,” according to a news release issued at the time.
The governor, following another closed-door session in December, said that the board had again discussed the potential future use of the King’s Alley Hotel and neighboring Anchor Inn site, but provided no details to the public.
The PFA took over the hotel in 2003 after the former owner, Development Consultants Inc., defaulted on its government-backed loan. The PFA used bond proceeds to renovate the 22 rooms in the main hotel complex and the hotel’s restaurant, a project that was supposed to cost about $2.5 million and be finished by March 2004.
The final price tag for the project hit $11.4 million, and the hotel did not open until January 2008.
In 2006, King’s Alley Hotel was appraised at $6.5 million, and while the PFA has tried for years to find an interested buyer, the agency has said that all offers have been too low.
In other business Wednesday, board members voted unanimously to:
• Amend a contract with Gaffney-Cline & Associates to allow for an additional $20,000 in costs associated with Argus Media, Inc. to provide data and analysis needed for completion of the scope of work.
• Renew the PFA’s General Liability Insurance to protect PFA operations at Frederiksted Mall, King’s Alley Hotel, and its St. Croix offices and to adopt the 2022 fiscal year PFA budget.
Burke, in the statement, said that Anthony Ottley, WICO president and chief executive officer, told board members about the company’s “specific austerity measures to maintain seamless operations pending the return of the cruise ship industry” to V.I. ports.
According to the statement “currently, WICO operates on a 32-hour workweek with staff working staggering shifts to maintain the regular business hours of WICO.”
The release noted that WICO “successfully negotiated a temporary deferral of loan payments with its lender, Banco Popular, which begins in May and extends through October” and that the agency “received $717,200 from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.”
“The combination of the cost savings and additional revenue has resulted in a positive cash flow for WICO during this time of austerity,” according to the news release.
Ottley also mentioned dredging projects. Bryan added,“We’re in talks with some cruise lines about possibilities for St. Croix as well. Ships may be coming to St. Croix as early as this year.”
According to the statement, Stephan Adams, Virgin Islands Next Generation Network president and chief executive officer, reported that his agency “has been watchful with its spending while prioritizing aspects of its operations.”
He said priorities “include the fortification of critical infrastructure components for the upcoming hurricane season, other related capital projects, and the obligated FEMA Project Worksheets — the Fiber Optic landing Sites and the FEMA Generator Mitigation Project.”
Adams “also stressed viNGN’s initiative to close the digital divide by deploying WIFI to public housing, libraries, and parks throughout the territory.”
Board members also discussed the PFA’s fiscal year 2022 budget in executive session, according to the news release.
The next regular meeting of the Public Finance Board of Directors is scheduled for June 24.