Veteran traveler and investor Keith St. Clair formally announced his plans for the first phase of what will become the Puerto Rico Film District that is set to be completed as early as December 2019 behind the Puerto Rico Convention Center.
The entrepreneur will invest $70 million in the project and will receive $500,000 in incentives from the Department of Economic Development and Commerce.
During a groundbreaking ceremony, St. Clair said “the only film studio in Puerto Rico” is set to occupy 180,000 square feet and will feature “five sound stages, administrative offices, conference rooms, post production and editing rooms, fitting rooms and a university.”
The complex belonging to the St. Clair Collection firm was designed by local architects Álvarez, Díaz & Villalón and will be developed by FR Construction. The first stage of construction will generate some 370 direct and indirect jobs.
During his announcement at the groundbreaking event, St. Clair for a brief moment addressed Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Roselló, to explain how other states in the U.S. mainland, have made strides in the film industry and how he wanted to replicate said success on the island that makes him feel like a “boricua.”
“We continue to steadily create compelling projects that contribute to the island’s economic development. This new project perpetuates the Convention District’s expansion, establishing it as the focal point for creating new jobs, businesses and the development of a new Puerto Rico.”
“We are in the business of promoting Puerto Rico,” assured St. Clair, who has a number of tourism properties operating and under development in the Isla Verde sector of Carolina.
Likewise, the British investor said when the facility is a finished product, it will generate close to 1,300 jobs.
The well-known business man, explained that he intends to “create a 500,000 square-foot campus to educate and “form Puerto Ricans into future directors, actors and script writers.”
Among his other projects that are linked to an overall investment of more than $500 million, are the a creation of a film festival, and “the first ever film themed hotel in Puerto Rico,” St. Clair said.
“Besides that, the most important thing is that we want to develop a ferry route that links Bacardi, Old San Juan and the movie studio so you can have a tourism opportunity for the future 1.8 million visitors that are coming to San Juan,” he said.
“We want to make this island, a set-ready environment. This is the ultimate film destination and our vision and drive is to make that happen,” he said.
Convention Center District Authority Executive Director Omar Marrero said the Puerto Rico Film District Project will “open a spectrum of opportunities for the District as well as those who visit it. The Puerto Rico Film District will occupy 13 acres of land within the district, making it an attraction for the general public, tourists and film industry members.”
Meanwhile, Rosselló said “Puerto Rico is the spot for investment. But it can only be accomplished if you identify those challenges, leverage those opportunities and execute moving forward, so we can make Puerto Rico that prime destination.”
“Having the courage to execute those opportunities, that’s the hardest part,” he added.
Puerto Rico Film Commissioner Pedro Rúa-Jovet added that Puerto Rico is one of the best filming destinations in the United States.
“Now with the development of the Film District, supported by Law 27 infrastructure incentives, we’ll be positioning ourselves competitively on a global level,” said Rúa-Jovet. “Film production in Puerto Rico is at its peak and with the governor’s support, nothing will stop us.”
Meanwhile, Richard Abramson, a partner at St. Clair Collection said “Puerto Rico is the ideal place to recreate any place in the world. It has history, climate, people who know the subject and a team of people behind the scenes with vast experience. That’s why we’re committed to the development of the film industry in Puerto Rico.”