The Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnership Authority announced Thursday it has opened the “Request for Qualifications” process to find a private entity to design, build, finance and maintain the proposed “Nuevo Comienzo” (New Beginning) juvenile social treatment facility in Yauco.
During a meeting with members of the media, P3 Authority Executive Director David Álvarez said the 600-bed project will be developed in combination with the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. Interested consortiums will have until May 4 to submit their responses and take part in the qualification process.
“The objective is to deliver a marquee project that clearly demonstrates the positive difference that a P3 approach can offer in the correctional space,” he said. “The project seeks innovation in the design with a strong focus on the education and rehabilitation of the juvenile population in the system with a first in class maintenance component.”
The timetable outlined for the project shows that the goal is to arrive at a short list of proponents by May and select the winner by October 2012.
At present, Corrections is responsible for running six juvenile facilities throughout the island, which the agency has said are having a significant impact on its finances given the high costs associated with maintaining them. The government spends an average of $231 per juvenile offender per day.
Through a P3, the agency would be able to improve the services offered to juveniles in custody, while reducing its operating costs. Corrections has a consolidated budget of $447.1 million for fiscal 2012, of which between 13 percent and 15 percent will be used up by the juvenile system, Office of Management and Budget data revealed.
“We’re committed to exploring innovative ways to provide better infrastructure for our youth. This will allow us to focus on what we have to do, rehabilitate our youth to attack crime at its roots,” said Corrections Secretary Jesús González.
“We’re making sure that the new facility complies with federal requirements and best-practice standards established under the American Correctional Association,” he said. “[Corrections] will remain in charge of operating the institution and does foresee any layoffs under this partnership. “
As a whole, Puerto Rico’s correctional system comprises 37 adult facilities housing a total of 11,664 inmates. The existing six juvenile facilities — in Bayamón, Ponce, Villalba, Guayama and Humacao — house 528 offenders, representing 66 percent of the institutions’ total capacity, according to the PPPA’s project description.
The new complex would feature a campus-like design with several modules housing shared services, which would cut the agency’s need to shuttle offenders between different facilities, thus reducing associated expenses, agency officials said.
Airport P3 moving along
The P3 announced Thursday joins another one already in progress to turn over the management of the Luis Muñoz Marín Airport in Carolina to a private operator by summer, about a year after the search began.
During the roundtable, Álvarez acknowledged the process to find a private operator has taken longer than originally planned because the agency has had to field a record number of project-related questions — about 900 — throwing off the schedule somewhat.
Still, the P3 Authority has already narrowed down the list of suitors to six: Flughafen Zürich, PSP, CCII, and IDC; Fraport and Goldman Sachs; GMR Infrastructure and Incheon Airport; Grupo; Aeroportuario del Sureste and Highstar Capital; Grupo Aeropuertos Avance; and. Puerto Rico Gateway Group.
The selected operator will be required to invest between $40 million and $80 million in “immediate improvements” in the first five years of the concession, which is expected to be for between 40 and 50 years. The government stands to receive an up-front payment of $1 billion, as this media outlet has previously reported.