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DTOP To Pick Up Tab For Alleviating Traffic Congestion Near Former Condado Trio Project
New connector over Condado Lagoon to reach Baldorioty
BY EVELYN GUADALUPE-FAJARDO
August 22, 2002
International Hospitality Enterprises (IHE), the developers in charge of refurbishing the former Condado Vanderbilt Hotel and La Concha Hotel, has apparently convinced the local government to bear the expense of alleviating the traffic problems in the area by building a connector from Delcasse Street over the Condado Lagoon to the Baldorioty de Castro Expressway.
"Our agency has a transit study for Condado; however, the cost to build the connector is not included in our Construction Investment Program," said Jose Izquierdo, secretary of the Department of Transportation & Public Works (DTOP). "We are in the final stages of evaluating the matter and the connector will get done."
Considering the findings of earlier studies by the municipality of San Juan in 1988 and by the Rossello administration in 2000, the DTOP recommends that Delcasse Street be extended to meet Wilson Street at the expressways marginal road because of the projects proximity to the Puerto Rico National Park. That recommendation meets IHEs desires.
The studys analysts found no serious problems of capacity in the area. What problems exist are due primarily to illegal parking, temporary obstruction of the road by cargo vehicles unloading merchandise, and vehicles waiting to enter parking spaces.
IHE is currently finalizing the projects design, permitting process, and environmental impact statement (which should be completed in 60 days), said IHE President Hugh Andrews.
"We have been meeting regularly with a government task force, appointed by the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., of the agencies involved with the permitting process," Andrews said. "We want to comply with their rules in order to make sure we dont waste time. Because this is a strategic government project, there is a commitment to attend to it expeditiously."
IHE expects to celebrate soft openings of the Condado Vanderbilt and La Concha hotels and of the projects two condo-hotels no later than October 2004. The two hotels will be refurbished completely by that date, though the condo-hotels may need some final touches.
The so-called Window to the Sea, between the former Condado Vanderbilt and La Concha hotels, should be finished next year.
IHEs parking proposal entails 947 parking spaces for 686 rooms, 45% more than in Brian McLaughlins original concept for the former Condado Trio site. The project must also provide parking for visitors to the Window to the Sea park, which will have outdoor cafes.
Milton Segarra, executive director of the Tourism Co., said in a previous interview that the government is studying the option of building, as a public-private venture, a parking lot near the hotels.
"We are doubling the parking spaces that were once there," Andrews said. "And there will be less transit in Condado because there is no longer a convention center. Our job is to create jobs and build hotels. It is the governments responsibility to resolve traffic & parking issues."
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.