High-ranking García-Padilla administration officials this week backed the proposed extension of Law 508 to stretch the life of the Roosevelt Roads Local Redevelopment Authority for an additional 30 years.
Officials also testified that the entity should keep its status as a stand-alone public corporation to continue redevelopment efforts at the former naval base in Ceiba.
“We have achieved significant progress in the past months in advancing the redevelopment project at Roosevelt Roads, one of [García-Padilla’s] top strategic economic development initiatives,” said Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Alberto Bacó.
“To continue our business plan, it is important that the LRA continue operating as a separate government entity as it has for the past 10 years,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malu Blázquez, LRA Executive Director, underscored that extending the life span of Law 508 for an additional 30 years conveys an appropriate message that the government of Puerto Rico remains “committed to the redevelopment project, economic growth and job creation.”
Last week, the LRA’s board of directors reaffirmed its commitment to support García-Padilla’s proposed bill extending the life of Law 508, which created the LRA in September 2004, for an additional 30 years. The administration and the LRA also expressed they will not support current House Bill 1928, which proposed to integrate the LRA and the Ports Authority into a single corporation.
The LRA was created in 2004 as a separate political and independent public corporation with the duty of implementing the Re-Use Plan for Naval Station Roosevelt Roads and with the obligation to direct, supervise, regulate, maintain and promote the economic development of the lands and facilities at the former naval station.
In alignment with its mission, the LRA reports to the Economic Development and Commerce Department.
Since its inception, the Department of the Navy of the United States has recognized the LRA as responsible for implementing the redevelopment plan at Roosevelt Roads. Also, community leaders from the towns of Ceiba and Naguabo support the extension of Law 508, agency officials said. Under the current law both municipalities are represented in the LRA board by three of its nine members.
Extending Law 508 guarantees that they will continue to be actively involved in supporting redevelopment plans for their region, agency officials said. Furthermore, extending the law would also “will generate the confidence on the part of the business community in Puerto Rico and abroad that is necessary for the LRA to continue its redevelopment projects,” Blázquez said.
Those projects include a Request for Qualifications issued June 30 seeking master developers for approximately 3,000 acres of lands and facilities at Roosevelt Roads. In response to requests for extensions of the due date to file the statement of qualifications, the LRA has extended the due date a week to Aug. 14.
So far, some 66 companies had registered to participate in the RFQ process. Approximately 17 percent of those registered are from the U.S. mainland and other countries, including Uruguay, Brazil, England, Spain and China.
“Extending Law 508 will generate the confidence on the part of the business community in Puerto Rico and abroad that is necessary for the LRA to continue its redevelopment projects, including the recently issued RFQ for Master Developers. Additionally, it sends a positive message to potential investors and developers about the government’s long-term commitment to the redevelopment project and Development Plan,” said Blázquez.
“We are finally moving from planning to implementing the redevelopment project at Roosevelt Roads. Apart from those interested in becoming Master Developers, we have approximately 10 individual projects in their incubation phase. We’re committed to supporting the economic transformation of the eastern region of Puerto Rico and we are on our way to achieving it,” said Bacó.