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Dorado To Get $35 Million Lifestyle Center

Will cater to upscale residential projects, nearby industries, and expressway traffic


February 3, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

A new retail development is underway in Dorado, but this won’t be your run-of-the-mill strip mall. The Forest Shopping Village, to be built at a cost of $35 million, will be a lifestyle center focusing mostly on restaurants, services, and leisure. It will also include an office building, according to developer John Segarra of Dora-Mar Development. Once it is complete, Segarra expects the center to occupy 399,000 square feet.

Lifestyle centers are a "boutique" shopping concept, as the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) defines them. They typically are near affluent residential neighborhoods and feature fancy stores aimed at well-to-do consumers. The new project in Dorado fits this definition perfectly.

"We want to do something different, never before seen in Puerto Rico. We want to build an elegant, contemporary, and sophisticated mall that matches the needs of the upscale communities being developed nearby," Segarra explained.

He added that he is negotiating with several five-star restaurants already operating in the San Juan area that are very interested in opening at the center. "Restaurant owners are calling me up asking for space. They say all their clients are moving to Dorado and they want to continue catering to them," Segarra continued.

The new center, to be comprised of freestanding buildings ranging from 1,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet, also will feature a bank, a car wash, a day spa, and European-style cafés with outdoor seating. Segarra also is considering adding a playground for children and possibly even a cozy wedding chapel.

The center, designed by architect Fernando González, will be anchored by an office building of up to five stories. "There is a great need in Dorado for medical offices, as there are none at the moment. Pharmaceutical companies nearby also are interested in renting office space here," Segarra said. "The office building will have a multistory parking lot next to it, but we still have to determine how many stories the parking lot will have."

In addition, the center will have an area dedicated to fast-food options to attract traffic from the De Diego Expressway, according to Segarra.

Segarra recalled his initial intention was just to develop an office building. However, when he began conversations with banks to finance the development, they insisted he go further and develop a retail area. He followed the advice and is very happy he did so as he has received many calls from potential tenants. This will be the first time Dora-Mar has built a retail property.

It is no wonder retailers, particularly upscale stores, are so interested in this project. Many upscale residential projects already exist in the area and more are coming. Among the residential projects in the works is Sabanera, which Segarra said will consist of about 2,000 homes starting at $350,000. All this activity is causing property values to shoot upward. For example, Segarra said that in two years the value of many homes in Dorado has doubled.

Dora-Mar Development is a locally owned company. Up to now, the company has focused on developing hotels, discotheques, and restaurants. In fact, this company was the developer of the Peggy Sue and Egipto discotheques in Condado.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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