$40M hotel/commercial complex planned for Laguna area

Written by  //  March 29, 2011  //  Tourism/Transportation  //  No comments

The Laguna Shopping Center could be demolished to make room for a new complex. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

A $40 million mixed-use project is in the works for the Laguna Shopping Center area in Carolina that calls for developing a trio of multi-story towers to be split between hotels and commercial spaces.

The Lagoon Plaza complex, which has been four years in the making, entails demolishing the structure currently housing a number of medical offices, a grocery store and several restaurants, to make way for the new facilities.

In its place, property owners Santa Realty Corp. would raise three towers — two eight-story hotels and a seven-story commercial building — atop an underground 800-parking space facility, according to the project description submitted to the Carolina Municipal Development office.

Attempts to reach Santa Realty executives were unsuccessful Tuesday.

The two hotels — one slightly larger than the other — would include a combined 320 guest rooms, a 10,000 square-foot casino, two 1,400 square-foot ballrooms, and meetings and restaurant facilities. While no information has been revealed, it is possible that one of the hotels could carry the Hilton Hotels flag.

According to the proposal, the two-year redevelopment project would generate nearly 400 jobs during the construction phase, and another 400 to 500 jobs once operational. Because the Lagoon Plaza project is still in its early stages, it is too soon to know what will happen with the mall’s current anchor tenant, Supermax, which last year signed a 20-year lease for its retail space.

Agencies endorse project
So far, the planned development — the largest on Carolina’s radar at the moment — has received the support of nearly a dozen agencies, including the Environmental Quality Board, the Deparment of Natural and Environmental Resources, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., and the Federal Aviation Administration, among others.

The FAA’s endorsement is crucial for Lagoon Plaza, as it is located adjacent to one of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport’s landing strips. When the project was first proposed in 2007, one of the stumbling blocks for its approval was the height of the towers, which cannot exceed 85 feet.

As a result, the building heights were rethought to comply with the aviation regulatory agency’s requirements, which said the project now presents “no hazard to air navigation.”

Meanwhile, the project is still awaiting another key approval, from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, which is looking to protect two murals on the buildings considered “historic patrimonies.” Massive nylon billboards have covered one of the murals — a glass mosaic on the side facing Baldorioty de Castro Ave. — for several years.

A public hearing on the Lagoon Plaza project is scheduled for April 26 at 10 a.m., at the Carolina Municipal Administrative Court.

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