Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority Executive Director Omar Marrero offered an update on eight projects underway in the busy zone that represent a combined $112 million in private investments.
Among the most important projects is the EcoExploratorio, which will be a center for informal education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), sustainability and mitigation of natural disasters.
With an investment of $50 million, the planned 65,000 square-foot EcoExploratorio will be located on two acres of land and should break ground in about two years, founder and meteorologist Ada Monzón said.
The future facility will house permanent and temporary exhibitions, spaces for educational events, areas with living species such as aquarium, a butterfly garden, an observation center, museum shop and food and beverage facilities, among others, she said.
The 30-year lease agreement was signed April 10, 2019, so Monzón said now the nonprofit established in 2010 to run the EcoExploratorio has begun submitting proposals for public and private funding.
Another major development is the previously announced $70 million Puerto Rico Film District, a 580,000 square-foot complex that will house the first digital recording studio in Puerto Rico and the largest in the Caribbean.
It is expected that this project will be inaugurated in the summer of 2021. After a process of land cleaning, asbestos and lead mitigation, and the completion of the permitting process, the demolition works begin on the structures that currently stand on the studio’s future location.
“We’re totally committed to Puerto Rico. We came here four-and-a-half years ago, and our biggest vision is this project, which will make a difference for Puerto Rico and could be a game-changer,” said Keith St. Clair, developer of the Puerto Rico Film District. “Puerto Rico is a 100×35 film set.”
In recent years, the film industry has contributed $256 million to the Puerto Rico economy and with this development “the growth potential is incalculable,” Marrero said.
Other projects also underway are:
- The District Container Park, a project with an initial investment of $500,000 that consists of a family outdoor offer where visitors can enjoy a combination of sports attractions, cuisine and commercial premises in cargo containers, new and renovated, specially prepared for these purposes. The facility occupies two acres of land and seeks to provide space and a business opportunity to local entrepreneurs, while creating approximately 100 direct and indirect jobs in the areas of manufacturing, construction and services.
- PATIO, a $350,000 entertainment venue that seeks to complement the Convention Center District’s gastronomic offer. The newly renovated Latin Cuisine restaurant creates 10 jobs.
- Temporary parking areas: Two parcels that are currently empty will be converted into parking areas for about 600 additional vehicles. A new street will be built between the two plots located adjacent to the Sheraton Hotel to alleviate traffic flow. The total investment for those improvements will be of some $2 million.