AUC is located in the area known as Cupecoy, and here in Cupecoy, there are several new developments being constructed right now, namely Porto Cupecoy and Blue Mall, both about a 15 minute walk from AUC. Ever since I moved into the fifth floor of my apartment, I’ve been seeing the Blue Mall and Porto Cupecoy slowly becoming more and more complete from my front balcony. First they were concrete shells, then the beautiful white exteriors were put on, then comes the glass windows. Last week, Irene and I decided to check them out.
For anyone visiting Cupecoy for the first time, the bumpy roads and abandoned buildings do not give the best of first impressions for this village on the Western edge of Dutch St. Maarten. But the sight of newly completed developments like The Cliff luxury condos, and others yet to come like the Blue Mall and Porto Cupecoy, reveals an area with a hopeful future.
The Blue Mall will boast 100,000 sq. ft of shopping space distributed among 80+ stores once completed. The fifth floor of the mall will be dedicated to fancy restaurants. Among the new tenants are: BVLGARI, Hugo Boss, Timberland, Emporio Armani, Guess Jeans, and US Imports Supermarket (which is a French chain supermarket). The top three floors of the mall will be luxury condos overlooking the Caribbean Sea. So far, there is still much work to be done on the mall. Half the exteriors are close to complete but from what I see, there is still much work to do inside. The mall is set to open this upcoming September 2010 (although this may change due to “Caribbean Time”). I hope I will get a chance to see it before I leave the island in a year.
While we still need to wait for the Blue Mall to be completed, we do not have to wait much more for Porto Cupecoy, a complex of shops, restaurants, nightlife, yacht club, and luxury condos. When Irene and I went to visit it for the first time, we were amazed at how beautiful it was, with the colorful buildings, walkways, fountains, and clear view of the lagoon and distant mountains. I was quite excited to see the widely-rumored Le Gourmet Marche at Porto Cupecoy finally opened! It’s quite a nice grocery store, with a fully staffed meat section, fresh vegetables, fine foods and wine, and most everything you need to cook with. Everything’s a little more pricey, but it’s nice, close to AUC, and offers a 5% discount to students. No longer do I have to take a bus into Maho (or walk 30 minutes across the golf course) to get basic groceries at Food Express. I can now get grocery 6-7 minutes from my apartment, or 10-15 minutes from AUC on foot! So nice!
In addition to Le Gourmet Marche, there are also 3 restaurants that are now open in Porto Cupecoy, and several stores stocked and ready to open pretty soon.
It is good to see Cupecoy slowly regaining its former glory. Before Hurricane Luis in 1995, Cupecoy and its luxury hotels and golf course was the place to be on the island. Ever since the devastating category 4 hurricane, and a seemingly endless ongoing series of legal battles between owners, insurance companies, and the government, the area could not and have not fully recovered, even after 15 years. Hence, abandoned buildings reflecting a once vibrant area still remain an eyesore on the landscape. However, ever since AUC built its new campus in the area in 1998 after surviving its own catastrophic experience when La Soufriere Hills eruption devastated its campus in Montserrat, the school’s existence in Cupecoy has helped raise the worth of the land and its prospect for new developments. Ever since, many new condos, apartments, and developments have sprung up in Cupecoy, bringing with it a new hope in the area. Today, new upscale developments like Porto Cupecoy and the Blue Mall are a reflection of this new hope.
Here are some pictures from our visit!
Blue Mall is now open! There are lots of shops and eateries, just a few minutes walking from AUC! Here is their Facebook page.