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Calderon Administration To Cut AWTD Cost By $135 Million

With some modifications, project expected to be ready by the summer of 2004


May 10, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The Calderon administration announced that the Puerto Rico Convention Center at the Americas World Trade District (AWTD) would be ready by the summer of 2004, although with modifications to cut the original cost of the project by $135 million.

"We had to give the World Trade District a reality check," said Jorge Pesquera, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. "The original convention center concept designed by the Rossello administration had to be one of world-class stature, no matter the cost."

In April 2000, then-Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Executive Director Jose Corujo, said the total investment, both public and private, of Phase I of the Americas World Trade District, including the Convention Center, would require $300 million in government funding and $300 million in private investment. The cost for the Puerto Rico Convention Center alone was estimated at $150 million to $190 million.

But, Pesquera alleges that the AWTD project would have cost the government $500 million. The Calderon administration has done some "value engineering" (i.e. cut construction costs), without affecting the square footage of the convention center building, to bring the estimated cost down to $365 million.

The convention center building should cost $170 million to $180 million, the remainder will be used for various infrastructure projects for the first phase of construction. The AWTD is anchored by the Puerto Rico Convention Center, located on 110 acres in Isla Grande, the site that was formerly the San Juan Naval Station and Coast Guard base.

Phase I of the convention center includes a 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall; a 40,000-square-foot meeting area; and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom.

One of the biggest modifications of the AWTD is the elimination of the $60 million Paseo San Antonio along the San Antonio Channel, which includes the Los Muelles District and the Paseo del Caño de San Antonio District. This area incorporated the northern edge of the San Antonio Channel between the water and Fernandez Juncos Avenue from Intersection #5 to Pier 1, approximately 87 acres.

The Paseo San Antonio proposed a landscaped pedestrian walkway along the water’s edge with activity nodes, including a fishing charter pier, maritime museum, a mixed-use retail cruise ship terminal, a waters edge park, and the possibility of an aquarium.

"The Paseo San Antonio was eliminated last year," Pesquera said. "It required that almost all the district be elevated and the construction of bridges for boats to pass underneath."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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