Hill Construction Corp., a construction development pioneer that has been doing business in Puerto Rico for almost 40 years, filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this week, listing more than $13.5 million in accrued debt.
The company that in 2005 was the top-ranked builder of concrete homes in the United States — all of which are on the island — listed FirstBank Puerto Rico and G.E. Capital as its largest creditors, owing them $9.1 million and $2.4 million, respectively.
Hill Construction — a family company founded by construction industry veteran Thomas Hill and staffed by his wife and children — employed about 1,100 people at it’s peak. The company is credited with implementing major changes in the concrete construction industry on the island.
According to published reports, it was the first to bring Schwing Concrete Pumps to Puerto Rico, which cut back the number of hours it takes to pour concrete. Hill was also the first to adopt steel forms to build homes.
The company’s list of projects reads like a who’s who of housing and commercial buildings in Puerto Rico, where Hill also built numerous bridges and retaining walls. Torre Chardon in Hato Rey, Hacienda Margarita in Luquillo, Dorado del Mar, Los Paseos in Dorado and scores of dwellings for Levitt Homes make up Hill’s list of projects developed over the years.
In the late ’90s, when Habitat for Humanity put out a call to build free homes for the needy in Cantera, Hill Construction stepped up loaning its expertise as a reinforced concrete contractor, a local newspaper reported in 2005.
The company is the latest in a string of major construction businesses to seek protection from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The construction sector has been clobbered by the protracted economic downturn that has affected Puerto Rico for the better part of the past seven years.