When Stella Maris church reopens in Condado as a brand new building, sometime within the next year and a half, it will fully integrate with its neighborhood and even turn into a tourist draw, Architect Federico Montilla said.
The Catholic Church, which will rise like a phoenix from its current site across from a popular park, will be much larger than its current size and stand two stories tall, said Montilla.
Construction is scheduled to begin soon with the cost of the project set at $5 million, said church parson Antonio Vázquez.
“It will be a classic church, not something to be confused with a warehouse or a hotel or any of the slipshoddiness in Condado,” said the architect, a frequent critic of the Condado area. “It will be an example of calm and tranquillity.”
Montilla said the design he conceived for the church is “simple yet elegant.” It will be in the style of Spanish churches, with a shingled roof and lots of stained glass, he said.
The new building will occupy the space currently taken up by the church, a modest but rundown one story structure, and its adjoining parish building. In all, it will have about 145,000-square-feet of space. The interior, Montilla said, will include a small chapel with room for 35 to 40 people.
Stella Maris is located in an exclusive area of Condado, in front of a park, Plaza Antonia Quiñones, that is regularly up kept by the municipality of San Juan with frequent maintenance and changes of greenery. The park, located between Caribe and Cervantes streets, is a popular venue for families with children and older residents of the area.
For the duration of construction, all religious services such as masses, weddings and baptisms, will be held in Sacred Heart parish, on Ponce de León Avenue.
The conceptual phase of the Stella Maris project has been three years in the making. Montilla said the project has been delayed because initially there were plans to build extra parking to accommodate 150 cars as opposed to the current space, which only fits 42 vehicles.
At first, a two-story underground parking was considered, then a single underground parking but the idea was eventually scrapped because it would have been far too expensive.
As it is, it is unclear if Stella Maris has all the money needed to bankroll the project. Vázquez declined to give any information about the fundraising campaign on behalf of the church, which is headed by the sister of former governor Sila Calderón. Maria Teresa Calderón-Serra could not be reached for comment.
Construction is scheduled to take 14 to 16 months and will be carried out by QB Construction.