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Investments Of $605 Million To Double Ponces Business Growth, Create Thousands Of Jobs, And Spearhead The Southern Regions Tourism
BY LIDA ESTELA RUAÑO
April 25, 2002
The municipality of Ponce has $605 million of mostly private-sector projects in progress or in the pipeline for the current electoral term.
Ponce Mayor Rafael Cordero said the impressive investments being made will create 525 permanent jobs and 722 construction jobs annually from 2001 to 2004. This compares favorably with the past decade, when the islands second largest city generated an annual increase of 207 jobs.
Cordero pointed out that from 1993 to 2000, gross annual business growth averaged $180 million. If all the aforementioned projects materialize in four years, gross annual business growth will almost double to $300 million.
The most important sectors are tourism, with $365 million in projected investments that are expected to generate 900 construction jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs; infrastructure, with projects totaling $156.3 million and creating 1,640 construction jobs, and housing, with 2,000 units in the pipeline including resort villas, social interest homes, and walkups.
From 2001 to 2004, the Pearl of the South anticipates that 1,442 hotel rooms will be built. Of these, 775 are traditional hotel rooms, 420 are condo-hotels, 147 are villas, and 100 are tourism-housing units.
At an investment of $198 million, the Ponce Hilton Hotel & Casino will be the flagship of Ponces hotel construction. The propertys $63 million golf course is slated for completion during the third quarter of this year. Representing a $55 million investment, construction of the projects initial 110 villas is expected to start also at the end of this year. Phase two will add 100 housing units at a cost of $45 million, and 217 hotel rooms will comprise phase three at a cost of $35 million. Project completion is anticipated for 2004.
A $3 million, 60-room hotel near Ponces historic Plaza Las Delicias will be built by Industria Hotelera Puertorriqueña (Puerto Rican Hotel Industry). The hotel will cater to businesspeople and tourists who prefer to stay in town. Construction is expected to start during the fourth quarter of this year and to be completed a year later.
Closed for years, the 167-room former Intercontinental Hotel will be totally renovated at an investment of $11.5 million. The hotel is located in El Vigia, close to the Serralles Castle Museum. Renovation is also expected to begin during this years fourth quarter.
Economist Luis Quiñones Soto, of the municipalitys Research Center for Economic & Social Development, said these projects would spearhead the southern regions tourism development. He added that the municipalitys $2.3 million investment in the Julio Enrique Monagas Park, with construction slated to start in July and to be completed in the summer of 2003, will also enhance tourism activity in the area.
"A $156.3 million infrastructure investment aims to place the municipality in a position where it can take advantage of the Port of the Americas and help decentralize the islands economic and social life," Cordero said, adding that the improvements are indispensable to achieve the efficiency needed to develop the transshipment port to its fullest.
The biggest allocation$94 millionis for roads, which will generate 782 direct construction jobs. Of this, $65 million will be used to move the existing intersection of PR-52 (the Luis A. Ferre Expressway) and PR-2 at the Las Cucharas sector. The construction of four bridges over PR 2, starting where PR 52 ends, will allow express traffic to flow, without any traffic lights from San Juan to Mayaguez. The first two bridges, giving access to El Tuque and Peñuelas, will begin construction during the third quarter of this year and end next year. The other two bridges will begin construction during the fourth quarter of this year and be completed at the beginning of 2004. The network of roads around the citys periphery will also be completed.
The $18 million installation of bridges over Santiago de los Caballeros Ave. will convert it to an expressway, also. Another $11 million bridge will go over the three-way intersection of PR-9, PR-14, and PR-10.
The other major infrastructure job will be rehabilitating the Port of the South, the islands only municipally owned port, at a cost of $37.2 million. Work on the project is expected to commence this summer and be completed by the end of next year, generating 360 construction jobs.
A three-phase, $20 million refurbishing of Mercedita Airport will begin in six months.
The projects $7.3 million first phase includes improving access to tanks, terminals, and other installations and installing new lighting, as well as building warehouses. It is expected to be completed next year. A $6 million second phaseto begin in mid-2003--and be completed next yearwill consist of reconstructing and expanding the existing tarmac as well as refurbishing the airports roof, office space, and equipment.
Other projects to be undertaken by the municipal government include constructing a $21.4 million Fine Arts & Convention Center, slated for completion next year. The facility, close to Los Caobos urbanization, will include a 3,000-seat theater and a 75,000- to 100,000-square-foot convention center with 1,000 parking spaces. The project will open for bids in early 2003 and will be completed two years after construction starts.
A $6 million repair of Fagot Ave. and Miguel Pou Blvd. will be completed next year; a $4 million remodeling of City Hall, and a $3.8 million revamping of the Playa sectors sewerage system are all ongoing projects.
The central government will undergo hundreds of projects, including roads, classrooms, water and sewerage, and housing, for an undisclosed amount which runs into the millions of dollars.
The Public Buildings Authority will build 204 classrooms in six schools for a total investment of $64.4 million and two other buildings totaling $45.3 million.
The Ports Authority will invest $60 million on a 3,400-foot-long expansion of the Port of the Souths pier, in preparation for the development of the transshipment Port of the Americas.
Entertainment, commercial, and housing projects
The private sector is also contributing to Ponces boom with a series of important projects.
The largest of these is a $120 million, 80-acre marina resort begun last year at the intersection of PR-52 and PR-2. Marina de Ponce Inc.s first phase will include a marina building, 37 villas with private docks, two condominiums totaling 160 units, 250 wet slips, and a 352-boat dry stack. The first condo units will be delivered at the end of 2003.
The second phase comprises 420 condominium units to be delivered in 2007 and 2009. Located in 15.6 acres, the third phase includes a 150,000-square-foot shopping center and 108-room hotel. No date has been set for the last phase.
Another private sector project opening its first phase next month is the $10 million El Tuque Beach Entertainment Center. Its $6 million first phase will include an aquatic complex of three pools with waves, high speed water slides, and water sports. Project developer Edison Lluch bought part of the equipment from Hato Reys former Plaza Acuatica. Also opening at the entertainment center are its pub and half of its inns 76 rooms. The projects second phase, to begin this year, will include a drag-racing track, a circuit track, and a small marina. Boating and kayaking will be promoted as part of the centers eco-tourism activities. The complex is expected to generate 100 jobs.
Part of the $33 million Coto Laurel Plaza projectincluding 218 housing units, a gas station, bowling alley, and restaurantinvolves expanding PR-506 and its marginal road, which is slated for completion during the third quarter of this year. The project comprises 84 walkups (Veredas del Laurel) and 134 houses (Estancias del Laurel), of which 78 will be social interest units to be completed next year. Coto Laurel Plaza will be a 150,000-square-foot mall, also expecting completion next year.
Another development, La Mallorquina, on PR-14, is a mix of residential and commercial spaces, which began construction this year at a cost of $48 million. It will consist of an $18 million, 200,000-square-foot shopping mall with 416 parking spaces. Some of the stores in the mall opened last week. There will also be a $30 million, 435-unit residential complex. Slated for total completion in 2004, the shopping center will create 493 permanent jobs, while the housing complex is expected to generate 115 jobs.
Villa Pannonia is a small residential development, consisting of 30 townhouses, six garden apartments and 12 duplex penthouses. The $4.1 million project, which will create 15 direct jobs, is slated for completion this year.
Sponsored by the governments safe home program, Riviera Bucana consists of 418 social interest units, whose construction will begin during this years fourth quarter.
The $16 million project will be completed by 2004.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.