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New hotel opening in Isla Verde before year’s end

A new nine-story, 107-room beachfront hotel is slated to open before year’s end on the Isla Verde tourist strip, News is my Business confirmed.

The property, which was originally set to debut as the Jade hotel, will carry a new identity and will have a new operator as part of its “rebirth,” Jacobo Ortiz, co-founder of the property’s new owner, Gardenia Hotel Partners, LLC, said.

The hotel — which does not have a new name yet — is currently undergoing the final repairs needed to get the necessary operating permits from the government, Ortiz said.

“That [remediation] process should wrap up by the end of the month, and it’ll be a property ready to get its use permit,” he said. “We’re investing between $4 million and $6 million in the work being done by F&R Construction Group Inc.”

“The property didn’t have any major problems,” Ortiz said, adding that the expectation is to be able to open by Christmas, in time for the start of Puerto Rico’s peak tourism season.

Gardenia Hotel Partners, LLC bought the mortgage associated with the former Jade hotel from Banco Popular for $21 million, after the financial institution foreclosed on the property. The purchase price for the Jade includes hotel equipment that the buyers accepted as part of the deal.

While the government reviews the permit application, Ortiz confirmed that staff is working to finish designing the interior of the property, it’s guest rooms and other areas.

As for the name and operator for the future property, Ortiz confirmed he hopes to have the new flag and management company selected in the next six weeks.

“We’re going to bring in an experienced hotel operator, because I’m not going to run it and learn as I go along. I want this to take off the right way,” said Ortiz, who is one of the founders of Las Brisas Property Management, which oversees numerous commercial complexes, including Paseo Caribe in Puerta de Tierra.

The discussion with the new operator will also include deciding which concept the property will adopt — a traditional hotel, a time-share property, an extended stay property, or a mix, Ortiz said.

“It’s a very fluid process while we have discussions with the different potential operators,” he said.

Neighboring property’s fate pending
Meanwhile, another firm in which Ortiz is co-founder, Amapola Hotel Partners, LLC, picked up the former Empress Hotel — which was to become the Noir — and a second adjacent property for $3.4 million, via a short sale, from FirstBank.

However, the future of that beachfront property has yet to be determined, he said.

“We’re still analyzing what the best use of that property and the lot will be. We bought it because it has a spectacular view, and sits on a privileged location,” he said, adding that he has already met with neighbors to gather their concerns about the former hotel.

“The first thing we did with the property, which was in a state of total abandonment, was close off the access, especially to illegal fishing, and painted it,” Ortiz said.

“Our commitment has always been to grab these projects that have problems and find the best use for them,” he said. “But our honest answer is that we don’t know what we’re going to do with it [the former Empress Hotel] yet.”

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 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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