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$12M, 200-room hotel planned for Puerta de Tierra sector in San Juan

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.”

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.


  1. Jose September 15, 2019

    Dónde estará el estacionamiento para este hotel? Es este otro ejemplo de mala planificación?

  2. Isabel September 20, 2019

    This project is displacing many people who have lived in this neighborhood for years. The fact that they are maintaining a facade of a 1940s building and claiming that this in some way respects the integrity of the neighborhood is laughable and offensive. Developers and gentrification are ruining the lives of Puerto Ricans in order to line their pockets with the money they make from tourism, kicking people, many of them elderly, out of their homes and raising rents all the while whitewashing the island’s culture and integrity. The final sentence of this article just goes to show how little these people care about the neighborhood, the island, or its inhabitants. The statement “Everyone wants to see this neighborhood be pretty again” is egregious and despicable. People live in puerta de Tierra. Not to mention that tHese hotels are eyesores. These developers should be ashamed of themselves.

  3. Michael Williams September 23, 2019

    Great news for an area with so many derelict buildings! 100 full time jobs is fantastic! 100 familias van a beneficiar de esta inversion. Tanta gente hablan mal y en su vida no han hecho nada para mejorar cosas. Haters gonna hate.


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