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Guaynabo poised to steer $100M+ in economic development projects

The Guaynabo municipal government is finalizing the details of what will be the new Guaynabo Development Enterprise Corp. to oversee the development of more than $100 million in projects.

Guaynabo Mayor Ángel Pérez confirmed that the ordinance creating the entity should be approved this week, after being discussed in public hearings.

When it comes online, the municipal corporation will already have a list of economic development projects to review, including a $100 million hotel and casino, which has already drawn interest from potential investors, he said.

‘“We’ve prepared some viability studies with recognized firms here in Puerto Rico, including Estudios Técnicos, to find the best place to develop this type of project,” Pérez said during an interview on the “En Una Hora” program on 11Q 1140 AM, in which News is my Business participates.

“So now, it is up to this corporation to work with investors. We’ve already seen interest from both local and foreign investors,” the municipal official said.

The location of the hotel was not revealed. But six years ago, former Guaynabo Mayor Héctor O’Neill announced the town had set aside $85 million to build a 200-room hotel and casino adjacent to the Mario Quijote Morales Coliseum, as this media outlet reported.

The project was supposed to be completed by 2015, but it never got off the ground and O’Neill resigned from office in May 2017 in the midst of sexual harassment allegations.

Other potential projects in the pipeline for the Guaynabo Development Enterprise Corp. are several public-private partnerships to run a number of municipal operations, such as the Marquesa Forest and the Sports Museum.

The town is also promoting the development of social-interest housing on several plots of land within the city limits, Pérez said.

“I hope that before year’s end, we can announce these projects and see them being developed next year,” he said, adding that the projects have already drawn interest from investors benefitting from Law 20 and Law 22, as well as potential Opportunity Zones Program developers.

Pérez took office several months before the island was clobbered by Hurricane María in September 2017, which he said affected 160 of the town’s facilities.

“I have been in the mayor’s office for two years and we have been attending to part of the reconstruction after the passage of Hurricane María. But we haven’t stopped working with the economic development aspect, which will help us to continue growing and which will shore up the necessary funds and resources for the municipality, to continue providing an excellent service to our people,” Pérez said.

The Guaynabo municipal government drew 200 new businesses to the town in Fiscal 2019, mostly represented by small and medium-sized operations, he said.

In all, the town recorded $48 million in sales revenue last fiscal year. With that volume of business and other measures, the town has been closing the more than $6 million deficit he inherited from the O’Neill administration, he said

“There is a financial statement that has improved very much. We still have a deficit, but little by little we have been closing that gap,” he said.

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.

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