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Eight Abandoned Buildings In San Juan To Become 44 Affordable Rental Apartments

Investment of nearly $6 million will transform Old San Juan eyesores into apartment buildings

by Lida Estela Ruano

June 8, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The municipality of San Juan is investing $1.2 million and the private sector some $4.5 million to rehabilitate eight abandoned buildings into 44 apartments in Old San Juan.

Architect-in-training Magda Bardina, a consultant at San Juan’s Urbanism department, said the buildings are located on Norzagaray, San Sebastian, and Cruz streets. The request for proposal (RFP) for one of the buildings–the one on Norzagaray Street once well known for the stuffed animals hanging in the empty window frames–should go out today. The other RFPs will be published within the next few weeks.

Bardina said all projects have been pre-approved by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (IPC) and other regulatory agencies, which will speed the process for developers.

She added that of the 880 buildings in Old San Juan, 48 are abandoned but restorable while seven had to be demolished because of their advanced state of deterioration. An additional 61 structures were not being used but were not in a dilapidated state. Municipal representatives will discuss the future of these with their owners.

The municipality had decided to expropriate 19 unused buildings but only the eight of the buildings to be developed were actually expropriated. Owners of the other 11 properties are planning to restore them.

Gustavo Velez, business promotion director at the Economic Development and Tourism Department of the municipal government, said that in fiscal year 1999-2000, 18 projects representing a $2.5 million investment and 600 new jobs have been promoted in the old city. According to Velez, since 1998–when the municipality started promoting the relocation of businesses to unused buildings–30 projects have been promoted at an investment of $13.4 million.

New establishments opening this year in Old San Juan include a restaurant, Luna Llena, on the corner of Fortaleza and O’Donell streets; another restaurant, Aniato, on the corner of Fortaleza Street and Callejon Gambaro; a Reebok store, on the corner of Fortaleza and Cristo streets; a pen boutique on Cristo Street; and two law offices–Miranda, Cardenas and Cordova, located across from the Banco Popular building, and Weinstein-Bacall, located in the former Gonzalez Padin building.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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