Hotel Development Contract Signals Rebirth Of Condado
By Raquel Velazquez
JULY 2, 2002
Tourism Co. Executive Director and President of the Hotel Development Corporation Milton Segarra was joined by renowned hotelier Hugh Andrews in signing a development contract to initiate the 18-month remodeling and restoration of the Condado Vanderbilt and La Concha hotels in the Condado tourist district.
"Today is a very important day for economic development, particularly in the tourism industry, not only for the residential community of Condado but for all of Puerto Rico," expressed Segarra during a press conference Tuesday to announce the re-development of two of Puerto Ricos oldest hotels.
The Condado Trio project, estimated at $183.5 million, is in the midst of working on the financing and permits process and is expected to begin restoration/construction early January 2003 for its inaugural by September 2004.
Segarra noted how the opening of prestigious hotels such as the Caribe Hilton at the end of the 1940s, El San Juan Hotel in the 80s, and the Conquistador in the 90s, have been integral in enhancing Puerto Ricos destination appeal and added that the development of these Condado zone hotels, "will, in the coming years, take our [tourism] industry to a dimension that we have never known."
Echoing Segarras sentiment, Andrews, president of the International Hospitality Associates, Inc., who has been involved in the redevelopment and reopening of numerous hotels in Puerto Rico for nearly 27 years stated that, "all of a sudden Condado is going to be a very desirable place, with its beautiful plaza. I think Ashford Avenue is going to become the Fifth Avenue of Puerto Rico."
When asked why this project is so special to him, Andrews replied, "I happened to be in Puerto Rico in the early 60s when it was first inaugurated and I fell in love with it. Its going to be wonderful to be able to restore it. I think everyone will be very proud of the results."
Economic Development Secretary Ramon Cantero Frau for his part, affirmed that the signing of the contract was of great satisfaction, since this will be one the administrations main projects. "One that will contribute toward a new economic and tourism push for the Condado zone," Cantero Frau remarked adding that both development projects will create nearly 1,000 jobs during its construction and 600 positions when in full operation.
The tourism executive director explained the hotels remodeling complies with current industry demands and once completed, it will augment room inventory with 679 additional rooms and nearly 1,000 parking spaces to the Condado area.
The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel will be a five-star hotel affiliate of the Leading Hotels of the World Organization with two condo-hotel towers with 160 units, 93 hotel rooms and 445 parking spaces totaling $88.8 million. La Concha will be a moderately-price family hotel with 226 rooms, casino, 200-unit condo-hotel tower and 502 parking spaces at a cost of $94.5 million. The commonwealths financial participation totals $53.1 million.
Those involved in this grand scale project include International Hospitality Associates, Inc., Thomas S. Marvel Architects, Ray Architects and Engineers, interior design by Jorge Rossello & Associates and landscape architect by EDSA Planners of Fort Lauderdale Florida.