Despite the protracted economic crisis plaguing Puerto Rico, real estate developer Nicholas Prouty announced Tuesday that construction of his newest project, “La Casa,” a new $65 million senior housing tower next to his $350 million Ciudadela development in Santurce, is “well underway.”
“The name of the tower is La Casa, and it will be the ﬁrst housing development targeted exclusively at the 55-and-older population,” said Prouty, chairman of Putnam Bridge, a ﬁrm engaged in the acquisition and management of distressed landmark properties in the United States.
“La Casa represents a private capital investment of $65 million and reaﬃrms our steadfast commitment to the economic development of Puerto Rico. The project will have no debt ﬁnancing. It will be all cash,” he said.
With 151 rental apartments, 13,273 square feet of commercial/retail space and 484 parking spaces, La Casa will become a hub of activity for individuals 55-and-over, he said, as 114 of the apartments are age-restricted units for 55-and-older adults, starting at $950 per month, while the rest of the units will be rented at the current market rate.
The tower will be located in the heart of the Santurce, on Stop 22. The building will be fully integrated into the Ciudadela community through the use of plazas, ramps and covered outdoor walkways. Ciudadela is a real estate and commercial district developed by Prouty. A cornerstone of the project is to attract generational diversity to the neighborhood, he said.
“La Casa is the perfect complement to Ciudadela, whose community is comprised chieﬂy of a younger population,” Prouty said. “Great neighborhoods are always diverse and I believe in well-designed cities that are inclusive: where people from all walks of life are treated with dignity and respect.”
“When I ﬁrst conceived this investment I was struck by a number of seemingly unrelated problems that kept me up at night. First, what do we do with all these abandoned buildings in San Juan? Although at ﬁrst glance they may appear to be hopeless, many of them could easily be re-used if some capital and TLC were injected into them,” he said.
He also sought to establish organized housing for that segment of the senior population in Puerto Rico that has worked all its life and will retire on a ﬁxed social security payment and, perhaps, a very small pension.
“On the one hand, they do not qualify for senior Section 8 housing credits and, on the other, fancy retirement facilities are out of reach,” he said. “To make matters worse, some of them might have moved in with their kids but those kids have grown up and many have moved away — often to places where cultural connections are diﬃcult.”
Thirdly, he believes seniors on the island seek a “less complicated and less stressful lifestyle,” in a smaller home, but close to hospitals, cultural centers and commercial shops. He set out to achieve responsible development in Santurce in a well-planned manner that integrates the younger and older generations.
“That is why we created La Casa. We believe it provides an answer to all those questions. Moreover, we believe the development can be the spark that triggers economic growth,” Prouty said.
He likened the Santurce movement to the transformation that Florida experienced in the 1970s, when it was touted as the go-to state for retirees. The shift in demographics generated thousands of jobs providing for the needs of the new senior population.
“Imagine all the Puerto Ricans currently living in the mainland United States returning to Puerto Rico to retire. This is their opportunity,” Prouty added.
Prouty was one of the ﬁrst businessmen to relocate and invest in Puerto Rico after the government passed Acts 20 and 22, granting tax credits and incentives for investments on the island. In addition to Ciudadela, he acquired Marina Puerto del Rey in Fajardo. To date, Prouty’s investments in Puerto Rico’s economy exceed $500 million.
“We have to devote ourselves to propelling economic activity and conceive big and bold ideas that will enable the island to get back on its feet. We need to come together to push forward economic development. La Casa is a creative approach to this goal,” said Prouty.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said, “The realization of the La Casa senior living complex is a credible signal that Puerto Rico is a business and investment-friendly destination.”
“Winds of change are blowing in, rebuilding the trust and conﬁdence of the investment community on the island. This project beneﬁts an important and vulnerable segment of our population as it promotes the diversiﬁcation of the Santurce community,” he said.