Christophe Harbour Development Co.

When you’re a developer selling buyers on natural beauty and charming local culture, it pays to make sure those things aren’t diminished by development. When you’re developing 2,500 acres of a largely undeveloped island – one that is a mere 18 miles long and five miles wide – your charge is even greater.

Fortunately, the Christophe Harbour development on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts is headed by a pioneer at this kind of thing. Buddy Darby, CEO of the Christophe Harbour Development Co., is the former CEO of Kiawah Partners, which developed the famous Kiawah Island, a private community off the coast of South Carolina. It was a development that succeeded in preserving the place’s unique natural environment and folksy Lowcountry flavor, while integrating luxury real estate and championship golf.

And that’s exactly what the master developer plans to do on St. Kitts.

“It’s fashionable to talk green, but the natural experience here is a big part of its appeal,” says Bill Lee, COO of Christophe Harbour. So the developer is creating hiking trails, funding bird conservation projects, building resource-efficient infrastructure and using energy-efficient materials and utilities. Christophe Harbour is helping to monitor turtle populations in beach areas to create least-disturbance policies for nesting sites, and it is taking erosion-control measures to protect terrain around all construction.

The strength and vibrancy of the local community is also important to the success of Christophe Harbour as it is part of the draw of St. Kitts. So, in 2008, the developer started the Christophe Harbour Foundation, a charitable organization to fund community outreach projects on the island. “A portion of each real estate sale is donated to the foundation, which will really add up over time,” Lee says.

Grand Scale

Christophe Harbour is a 25-year project that started in 2008. The developer can’t put a number on what the total cost will be because countless unknown variables could change that number significantly in years to come.

For example, the development owns five hotel sites. The first one, the Park Hyatt St. Kitts, broke ground in June 2013 and is slated to open in 2015. The luxury hotel will have 135 rooms and a fine-dining restaurant. There are no plans for the other sites yet, Lee says; it’s a matter of finding the right partners.

“Our mission is to create communities with long-term value,” Lee says, for real estate buyers and for the island. 

And perhaps for Lee, too, who grew up a military kid and spent his early career in the resort business before moving into development in the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands. He has never lived anywhere for more than a few years, and given the duration of the Christophe Harbour project, his stint on St. Kitts will be the longest he’s ever had.

The luxury residential resort of Christophe Harbour and its six secluded beaches are located on the island’s southeast peninsula, which separates the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The debut residential neighborhood of Sandy Bank Bay is set along a horseshoe bay with two reefs and a natural sand bank. The bay is a marine sanctuary, which will remain free of boat moorings to ensure sea life and property views are protected. 

As of March, seven private homes had been completed, five were under construction and eight were in the design review pipeline and set to begin construction.

One of the highlights of the property will be the 18-hole championship golf course, designed by famous course architect Tom Fazio and located on dramatic volcanic hills and plateaus 500 feet above the water. “This will be a ‘wow’ on the global scene,” Lee says. “The topography is spectacular.”

The course has been carved out and all of the earthwork is done. “The maintenance costs for this course will be heady, so we’re waiting to finish it until there are players for it,” Lee says.

The developer commenced construction in April on a superyacht harbor with 300 boat slips, including ones that can accommodate yachts up to 300 feet long. The first phase of the harbor’s five-year build-out is expected to be finished in early 2015.

Lee anticipates the economic climate will have little affect on sales at Christophe Harbour. “Our buyers are typically investors looking for a diversification play in their real estate portfolios,” he says. “Sales have been strong so far, and appreciation of our lots keeps going up.” 

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