The Puerto Rico Ports Authority has opened a call for a Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the operation, maintenance and repair of the dry dock located at Pier 15 in Isla Grande, agency Executive Director Joel A. Pizá Batiz announced.
It is estimated that this project has the potential to generate private investment of $20 million, the creation of 400 direct, indirect and induced jobs and an annual economic impact of about $15.9 million, he said.
Proponents have 60 days to submit their RFP, and Ports expects to announce the winning proposal before year’s end, this media outlet confirmed.
In the late 1990s, Ports bought the dry dock initially built and operated by the U.S. Navy in the early 1940s. However, it has remained unused since 2000.
“Today we’re announcing the start of the Request for Proposals process for the dry dock, so that this facility, the only one of its kind in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, can operate again, and once more be a source of economic activity and employment for the island,” Pizá-Batiz said.
Saying the RFP is not for a public-private partnership, Pizá Batiz noted that what the agency seeks is an operator to establish a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service center for various types of vessels, including commercial, yachts and mega yachts, among others.
The dry dock measures approximately 600 feet long, 102 feet wide and 26 feet deep, which positions it “as a unique facility in the entire Caribbean for the repair and maintenance of vessels up to 400 feet long,” Pizá-Batiz noted.
Currently, local businesses are required to use dry dock facilities in New Orleans, the Bahamas or the Virgin Islands to repair or maintain their vessels.
Third time’s the charm?
This announcement marks the third time in the last five years that the Ports Authority has dabbled in seeking outside companies to develop the zone.
As this media outlet reported, in August 2018, the agency received an unsolicited proposal from an undisclosed firm to develop a mega yacht marina and dry dock operation on that same site. That proposal was submitted to the Public-Private Partnership Authority.
Back in 2015, the Ports Authority opened an RFP for leasing, development, financing, construction and operation of a marina for mega yachts and to transform the San Juan dry dock into a “leading center for repair and maintenance of vessels,” as this media outlet also reported.
However, the deals failed to materialize both times.
“This project has an economic multiplier effect for various economic sectors. It should be taken into consideration that whoever arrives on the island with a boat to receive some type of maintenance or repair, can enjoy a few days in our hotels, entertainment centers, gastronomy and shopping centers, among others, Department of Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel A. Laboy said.
“It is estimated that all these activities could have a multiplier economic impact of approximately $15.9 million once the dry dock begins operations. Undoubtedly, this dry dock will be a perfect complement to propitiate an increase in the development of the yacht and mega yacht service industry in Puerto Rico,” he added.
Some 79 mega yachts visits to Puerto Rico were recorded last year, with an economic impact of approximately $10.9 million. This represents an increase of 53 mega yachts over 2018, the government stated.
“We’re very confident that with this Request for Proposals process that we announced today, we will finally be able to get a company that can get this important asset, such as the dry dock, back into operation. Without a doubt, this will allow us to favorably position San Juan as an important center for repairing and maintaining vessels throughout the Caribbean region,” Pizá-Batiz said.