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Tourism Co. And Empresas Fonalledas Reach Agreement On Convention Center
Resolve Issues Regarding The Amount Of Designated Commercial & Office Space
BY EVELYN GUADALUPE-FAJARDO
October 3, 2002
The Puerto Rico Tourism Co. and Empresas Fonalledas, owner of Plaza Las Americas, have written an agreement that will allow the government to resume work on the $365 million convention center in Isla Grande by mid-November.
If all goes according to plan, the convention center will be able to open by December 2004. It was originally scheduled to open by September 2004, but a local court injunction in June delayed construction for three months.
According to industry sources, the two parties agreed that no retail stores larger than 25,000 square feet could be built on the site, that the designated commercial space couldnt exceed 250,000 square feet (as the government had originally proposed), and that the 750,000 square feet designated for office space could never be used as commercial space. That last issue was a real sticking point, with the government unwilling to make the commitment.
In June the local Circuit Court of Appeals revoked the Planning Boards site plan resolution for the convention center, sending the Tourism Co. back to the drawing board. The courts decision favored petitioner Empresas Fonalledas, who in May 2000 filed a Planning Board Resolution Revision challenging the boards approval of the project as presented.
Empresas Fonalledas claimed the amount of designated commercial & office space seemed to belie the fact that these applications would be ancillary to the convention center. They claimed the designated space suggested the intention to develop a full-fledged commercial center. If so, given the convention centers tax-exempt status, it would compete unfairly against Plaza Las Americas, the islands largest shopping center, and against retailers in the Old San Juan area.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.