A new $12 million hotel will be built on Ponce de León Ave. in San Juan’s Puerta de Tierra sector, featuring some 200 rooms at competitive rates, this media outlet confirmed.
Construction of the 10-story hotel will begin in mid-2020 and will be completed in 2022, said Eduardo Oliver-Polanco, the engineer in charge of the project on behalf of developer Rebuild San Juan Puerta de Tierra LLC.
The property will be located on the corner of Raphy Leavitt Street and Ponce de León Ave. almost halfway between the Sheraton Old San Juan and the Caribe Hilton hotels.
“We’re trying to make it a middle-class, three-star hotel,” he said. “We’ll be demolishing most of the structures that are in the 2,269 square-meter lot but there’s a building there that has a 1940’s façade, which we’re going to try to keep so there’s harmony with what’s in Puerta de Tierra.”
The building will feature a reception level with a bar/restaurant, nine floors of hotel rooms, and two semi-basements where the developer plans to put a gym and commercial retail spaces for lease.
The hotel project has been in the works for several years and was halted for eight months after Hurricane María struck in 2017, Oliver-Polanco said.
Although the project description indicates that the property would fly a VIB Best Western flag, the engineer said nothing has been officially signed yet. Several attempts to reach BIV Best Western officials for more information were unsuccessful, as calls went unreturned.
Oliver-Polanco also said there is a possibility of giving the property a different name, including the Raphy Leavitt Hotel in honor of the Puerto Rican composer and founder of salsa band “La Selecta,” who lived around the corner from the proposed property.
“We already had an agreement with the family, but it all got complicated after the hurricane because we lost touch with them,” he said.
Once operational, the hotel property will generate 100 jobs, Oliver-Polanco said.
As far as permits go, he said the Government Permits Office (OGPe for its initials in Spanish) has approved the construction inquiry, but the developer still needs permits from the Fire and Health Departments. The project already got the go-ahead from the San Juan municipal government.
“We believe that it’s an excellent location for a hotel and once we have it done, we believe all of the neighboring area will improve. I know it because I’ve been approached by three clients, one of which hired me to remodel an abandoned building nearby,” he said. “Everybody wants to make that area pretty again.”