Housing Authority OKs step forward for new senior living facility

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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Housing Authority is one step closer to making the Sugar Estate senior living facility a reality, but several more hurdles must be crossed before ground can be broken.

In a board meeting Wednesday, Kimberly Wize, the federal official who acts as the Housing Authority board, approved a resolution authorizing the agency to enter into all necessary documents to further the development of the project.

V.I. Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Graham said the action allows the agency to continue to work toward securing the project's financing.

"It's another step in the many steps involved in the development project," he said.

The Housing Authority currently is awaiting approval of a zoning change from the Senate, one more item that must be in place before the financial closing can occur, Graham said.

The Housing Authority purchased the land on the hillside above the Island Periodicals building and east of the Foothills Medical Building in 2012 from Lockhart Realty for about $1.3 million.

The land, about 8 acres, consists of two parcels. One is zoned R-5, residential high density, and the other is zoned R-1, residential low density.

To consolidate the property and build the senior housing, both parcels must have the same zoning.

"The major milestone is the financing," Graham said. "I'm hoping that happens in the next 30-60 days, but I can't say for sure."

The project itself will be to construct 80 units for seniors who can live independently. It will be affordable rental housing, built with low-income housing tax credits, Graham has said.

The facility will include a parking garage under the building, a community center and outdoor gardens.

A single entrance and exit point will share the entrance to the Foothills Medical Building.

The facility will have two buildings, with three floors of living space plus the lower level parking garage.

Construction is expected to start within a year and may take up to two years to complete. Its proximity to Schneider Hospital and many doctor offices, labs and pharmacies makes it an ideal location, according to Graham.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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