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Indigo Green

1A Development of a Different Colour

By Lisa Davis-Burnett

When it comes to St. Maarten real estate, the hot property is Indigo Bay. This large swath of landscape is unmistakable when driving "over the hill" from Philipsburg to Simpson Bay or back. What is not so obvious is that Indigo Bay has been subdivided into several parcels, each being independently developed. Indigo Green is one such tract; its forward-thinking engineering and construction methods set it apart. As the guardian of the Emerald City said to Dorothy, "That's a horse of a different colour," you can be sure that Indigo Green is a development of a different colour.

This community within a community is being brought to reality by the Groupe Lépine International, (GLI). Rene Lépine is the owner of GLI and is permanently based in St. Maarten, but his experience is global and his resume, impressive. His network of experts and cutting edge technology spans North America, Europe and Asia. He invited WEEKender out to the site this week to check on the progress of the construction. "There's a master development that's been done here by Cay Bay Development whose managing director is Steve Smith. Everybody knows Steve. He's been working here for eight years, putting in roads and landscaping and building. People generally don't realize that there are options within Indigo. What we are doing is totally different than anything else, here or really anywhere else on the island." said Lépine

Situated on the western slope of the bay, Indigo Green offers gorgeous ocean views and a nearly constant cooling breeze. Tucked into the slope, the noise from the busy Cay Hill roadway is virtually eliminated. The architectural units form a cohesive geometrical design which respects and utilizes such natural elements as the sunlight, wind direction, and shape of the hillside. The walls and ceilings are insulated to keep the inside cool, allowing energy bills to shrink by as much as 55%. Add onto that advantages gained by solar panels and you can expect those GEBE bills to dwindle. All units have cisterns with an automated back-up system to add a certain percentage of water from GEBE if the level drops down to only a few days' supply.

At present, the 35-40 workmen are busy with the 19 villas which extend towards the southern half of the property. The basic layout of these homes offers 2,000 square feet of modern living space, including kitchen, living room, with three bedrooms and two baths, as well as storage and room for a home office. The villas are arranged in two zones, with those higher up on the hill given the possibility to be expanded to include a roof top terrace. That rooftop lounge could be a sundeck with a wet bar or it could be a bedroom or even two bedrooms.

Coming soon, Indigo Green will have two and three storey condominiums as well. That phase of construction will begin in June. "We have two general products of condos," explained Lépine. "One is a vacation villa focused on short-term occupancy, its two bedroom/two bath, and the other is a three bedroom designed with permanent island residents in mind. The designs differ in the consideration of storage space and structures that support a certain lifestyle. Residents need closet space, home offices, work rooms with places for tools, and extensive pantries for kitchen supplies. The interiors of the two designs might look the same, but they are really very, very different."

The slopes of the Indigo Green property have offered the designers an opportunity to create a home with a view that is essentially a one level layout. Those St. Maarteners that need to avoid stairs due to their age or physical limitations will appreciate that they can drive into the covered parking decks and gain access to their homes without exposure to rain or sun and without climbing up and down stairs. "We developed a product that literally allows you to park right by your door and walk into your house and you basically have a living space that is all on one level with an ocean view. We don't have a lot of these designs," noted Lépine, "but it is a specialized niche that we feel like we have filled quite nicely" – easy access and easy mobility for those who prefer to have one-level-living.

The methods of construction that GLI is bringing to the island are altogether new. Utilizing an additive called "helix fibre," the cement is made strong without rebar or wire mesh. The fibre is a thin filament of galvanized steel, twisted into a helix shape. It is sometimes called micro-rebar and allows the concrete to be strong and flexible as well as more durable. The outer walls are poured with this revolutionary technique and the interior wall is fitted with mildew-proof drywall. Sandwiched between the two are sheets of Styrofoam insulation. Rather than locate electrical wiring and plumbing pipes in the concrete, grooves cut into the Styrofoam to serve as the conduits for the utilities, making repair or remodelling much easier.

As we walked and talked, I began to see it: the vision of homes, kitchens, studies, living rooms, walk-in closets and patios. Lépine clearly saw it all vividly; he pointed out details that I could only nod at. A notch in the wall would become the shower, with a small eye-level window that offered a view of the sea and a breeze off the garden. The construction workers barely noticed us as we wandered around; they had tools and tasks, and a no-nonsense attitude that comes from pride in your skills. Lépine nodded to me and said, "If you notice, they all have on hardhats and no one is in open shoes."

It seems pride in one's work is the norm on this team, and Lépine is no exception. He had nothing but praise for his administrators, architect, and engineers. He said he works with about 40 companies, various subcontractors and suppliers, and he always prioritizes the jobs to local islanders.

For more information on Indigo Green properties, call 543-7999 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or check out the website www.IndigoGreen.sx.