Governor Designates Company That Will Renovate Condado Trio
By Proviana Colon Diaz
DECEMBER 26, 2001
Following nearly four years of closure, the Condado area will finally see the beginning of reconstruction to the abandoned structures of La Concha and Vanderbilt as Gov. Sila Calderon announced Wednesday that International Hospitality Enterprises obtained the contract for the development of the Condado Trio.
The buildings were closed down and the destruction of La Concha Hotel's structure had even begun, but in 1998, arguing among other things the historic value of the hotel art deco architecture and the failure to comply with the Environmental Impact Declaration for the Condado, Calderon, then mayor of San Juan, filed an injunction in court and obtained a halt of the proposed project, which was for the development of condos and not hotels.
The concept was finally approved, which Calderon presented Wednesday, and is almost identical to her proposal as mayor of San Juan for the area - the renovation of the two hotels and an open space, dubbed by her "Window to the Sea," in between the two structures.
On Wednesday, a smiling governor said she was "delighted" with the approved plan and above all with the bidding process, which in her opinion was fair, open to the public, and grants "justice" to the residents of the area.
"I am very happy because we gave the citizens back an open space and a view to the sea," she said.
Wednesday's announcement was made at the Tourism Co. headquarters by Director Milton Segarra, who highlighted the over 30-years experience of the contract winning corporation, International Hospitality Enterprises.
"The [IHE] contract hotel managers to run hotels. It is not a corporation that hires business managers to run hotels. They are compromised with the industry," Segarra said.
The total cost of the contract for the renovations is $183.3 million, of which the government will contribute $53.1 million and $8.8 million in tax credits.
Government Development Bank President Juan Agosto Alicea said the money invested by the government will pay 60% of the renovations to the hotels, and the private corporations will cover funds for renovations to the condo-hotel concept entirely.
According to the operating concept, La Concha will be renovated into a family-style hotel with moderate prices and a casino. It will have 266 rooms, 200 condo-hotel style units, and 502 parking spaces.
The Vanderbilt Hotel will be a five-star hotel member of the Leading Hotels of the World Organization. It will have 93 rooms, 160 condo style units, and 445 parking spaces.
The renovations reflect a 45% increase in rooms at the hotels.
Once the renovations are completed, Segarra said it could take up to 29 months, creating 1,000 direct jobs, the Tourism director said.
The government still faces a lawsuit for contract failure by businessman Brian McLaughlin, who had been given the contract by former Gov. Pedro Rossello for the development of the area.
Without going into the details of the case, Calderon said the lawsuit would not affect the new plan approved by her administration.