Caribbean Hospitality Summit Draws Record Numbers

Bisnow Caribbean Hospitality

Investor Sentiment For Rebuilding The Caribbean Region Remains Strong

Miami, Florida – The Bisnow Caribbean Hospitality and Tourism Summit held on August 1, 2019 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami drew over two hundred investors, developers, hotel operators and other industry professionals.  

Sponsored by the Puerto Rico Builders Association, this “not to miss” investor event celebrated its 3rd year.  Special shout out to Katya Demina for her help in making the event such a great success. Join us for more events at AG&T. 

Puerto Rico Ready for Development

Ponce Paradise

A Beachfront Acre For $30K In An OZ? Welcome To Puerto Rico

Published by Deidra Funcheon, Bisnow Miami

Puerto Rico was already struggling from decades of fiscal mismanagement and had just declared bankruptcy over its $123B debt when it was hit by two hurricanes in September 2017 — only to run into a botched disaster response. The way some see it, though, rock bottom is behind Puerto Rico, and the island is in the early stages of an upswing. “Puerto Rico is setting an incredible pace for economic recovery,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, a destination marketing organization that promotes the commonwealth. “Airport arrivals are exceeding pre-Hurricane Maria levels, as are lodging revenues. Given the quick rebound, reinvestment in hotel product and tremendous potential for the island’s tourism industry, this is Puerto Rico’s time. From an investor’s perspective, there’s never been a better time to invest in the island’s tourism industry.”

Buildings and infrastructure are still being repaired and upgraded, and the government has instituted a full slate of tax incentives to lure investors, said AG&T Managing Partner Adam Greenfader, who advises clients from his base in Miami. “You can still acquire assets for 50 cents on the dollar,” he said. “Beachfront land in Puerto Rico today can still be acquired at $30K an acre.” Dean and Greenfader will be panelists at Bisnow’s Caribbean Hospitality & Tourism Summit Aug. 1. Puerto Rico’s economic spiral goes back decades. After World War II, it gave big tax breaks to manufacturers, and to cover for revenue shortfalls, issued more bonds than it could repay. In turn, it implemented austerity measures that did little except drive the population away. Its problems were exacerbated by that fact that it has no voting power in Congress.

Greenfader outlined some key developments toward a turnaround. Puerto Rico’s cash-strapped government has tried to lure investors with laws like Acts 20 and 22, passed in 2012 and designed so that people who move to the island pay little or no federal income tax, even on passive investments. Greenfader said this has attracted 250 to 500 families per year, including big names such as billionaire John Paulson.  Other incentives include one that lets people with tourism-related projects get back 40% or 50% of their acquisition costs.  

 

Development Land
80 Acres in Naguabo, Puerto Rico

 

Puerto Rico’s massive government debt is currently being sorted out by a federal oversight board. “The major bonds, COFINA and GO, have been renegotiated and the bondholders have been put into payment plans,” Greenfader said.  Since the 2017 hurricanes, federal disaster aid — including $1.4B authorized in June — has trickled in. Hotels damaged in the storms were forced to remodel or rebuild and are now offering better products at higher rates. Many are incorporating solar and microgrids to be resilient for the future. The storms raised the profile of Puerto Rico — one study found that prior to them hitting, about half of Americans hadn’t known the commonwealth was part of the U.S. Airport arrivals and tourism revenue have already set records this year. On top of this, Puerto Rico is the beneficiary of community development block grant funding, and 97% of the entire commonwealth — much of it beachfront — has been designated a qualified opportunity zone. “Puerto Rico never had a 1031 exchange, so from a tax perspective, it’s the first time it’s getting capital gains money,” Greenfader said.  

Lifeafar Investments Chief Financial Officer Cole Shephard, who will also be a panelist at the Bisnow event, said his Colombia-based company is already taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s investment climate, raising $16M in an opportunity fund to reposition a 61-room hotel. Shephard said Lifeafar, which started by offering real estate services to expats in Medellín, was drawn by the tax incentives and that the opportunity zone designation was a bonus. He is now doing due diligence on additional properties. “I see the sophisticated money chasing metro San Juan,” he said, suggesting that there is a lot of opportunity for small to mid-market projects outside of the city. Not everything in Puerto Rico is rosy. 

Development Land
29 Acres in Isabella, Puerto Rico

 

As the government has scrambled to generate revenue, sales tax was raised to 11.5%, pensions have been cut, college tuition increased and some 300 public schools closed. Critics have complained that wealthy investors have been protected while ordinary Puerto Ricans suffer. “The locals have had to carry the brunt of these austerity measures,” Greenfader acknowledged. “I’d understand completely, if I see a guy who’s a hedge fund manager with $500M earnings pay hardly any taxes, versus the regular guy paying 35% taxes who’s a salaried worker at Bacardi,” Shepherd said. But Shepherd added that conversations with Puerto Rican officials convinced him they have carefully calculated the tradeoff and found that luring private investment now will help island residents long-term, even though it may take years for the effects to be obvious.

Greenfader suggested that boosting tourism is a winning solution for both investors and residents. Because Puerto Rico since the Kennedy era has been focused on manufacturing, its tourism industry was relatively neglected. The industry now accounts for less than 7% of Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product. In other Caribbean islands, that number is typically between 30% and 80%. Dean’s destination marketing organization, Discover Puerto Rico, was established last year to actively promote tourism. Bisnow’s Aug. 1 Caribbean Hospitality & Tourism Summit will also include Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Executive Director Carla Campos, Hilton VP for Development Juan Corvinos Solans, Puerto Rico Builders Association President Ing. Emilio Colón Zavala and more. 

Event Ended On: Thursday August 1 2019

Puerto Rico After The Hurricanes: Investors And Bitcoin Cowboys Are Circling

By Deirdra Funcheon as Published in Bisnow South Florida

Puerto Rico has been desperate for aid that has been too slow and insufficient following hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. But a few on the island say the attention followed might ultimately be a net positive for the commonwealth. “The bottom line is that Puerto Rico in the next two to three years is expected to see strong growth — 3 to 3.5% of GDP,” said Adam Greenfader, principal of Miami-based AG&T Development and Advisory Services. “It hasn’t had growth in 12 years. A depression is defined as negative economic growth for three quarters, so for all intents and purposes, Puerto Rico has been in a depression for 12 years.”

59d50743d6093_PR2

Greenfader married into a family that facilitates Section 8 housing throughout Puerto Rico. He then became a developer there himself. Currently, he serves as the liaison to the Puerto Rico Builders’ Association and the chair of the Urban Land Institute’s Caribbean Council. Greenfader points out that while last summer’s hurricanes devastated the commonwealth, jobs had already been scarce for more than a decade as the government faced a crippling debt crisis, owing $123B and declaring bankruptcy last spring. Though an estimated 150,000 Puerto Ricans fled to the U.S. mainland after the hurricanes, between 60,000 and 70,000 residents had already been leaving each year of the crisis. Puerto Rico’s current population is about 3.5 million, down from a peak of about 4 million, Greenfader said.

Turnaround efforts began years ago. Reforms enacted in 2012 enticed businesses and high net worth individuals to relocate to Puerto Rico by taxing corporate profits at a flat 4% and eliminating taxes on dividends, interest and capital gains for anyone who resided at least half the year in Puerto Rico. For anyone selling a company or large amounts of stock, these measures could result in saving millions of dollars on taxes. Famously, Putnam Bridge Funding CEO Nicholas Prouty invested more than $100M and relocated his family. Billionaire John Paulson bought several hotels. Michael E. Tennenbaum founded Caribbean Capital & Consultancy Corp. Goldman Sachs and various hedge funds moved in and bought distressed mortgages for pennies on the dollar. 

Greenfader said that about 1000 high net worth individuals moved to the island, and about 200 are coming each year. Cottage industries sprung up to cater to these ultra-wealthy.  Then last year’s hurricanes blew through, knocking out power and killing 64 people directly and 4,645 in total, according to Harvard University. Though the U.S. government responded painfully slowly, $18B in aid has been approved from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and billions more are expected, Greenfader said.

Recovery is slow, but happening. Tesla built a solar array to power a children’s hospital. Doctors are being offered tax incentives to stay in Puerto Rico. Private insurance companies have started to pay claims, so 60% of hotels are now operational, Greenfader said. He believes that when the economy improves, exiles will move back. 

Publicity around the hurricanes certainly brought attention to the commonwealth. Immediately after the hurricanes, only about half of Americans knew that Puerto Rico was part of the United States; that number has since risen to 76%. Following the disaster, dozens of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs relocated to San Juan to buy hundreds of thousands of acres of land, take advantage of the tax structure and set up a “crypto utopia.” Greenfader suggested there is more opportunity for economic recovery: Puerto Rico’s tourism industry makes up only 6.5% of gross domestic product, whereas on many Caribbean islands, that figure is 50% or more. That is by design, he said; in the 1950s and ’60s, laws were structured to keep out the Mafiosos who ran Cuba. It could be increased substantially. 

Furthermore, the island has long had a mishmash system of collecting property taxes, partly because so many homes are built informally or illegally — “People get a paycheck, buy [a] few beers, invite their friends and family over to build a wall at a time,” Greenfader said — and partly because the tax code hasn’t been revised since 1950s. “A property worth a million dollars might pay no more than $2K, $3K in taxes for a year,” Greenfader said. A better system of collecting taxes could be implemented to make the government more solvent.  Although he is optimistic, Greenfader acknowledged the challenges.

While Puerto Rico is a diverse society, where rich and poor have long mixed freely, the influx of people taking advantage of the tax breaks is “adding an upper class the island never had before,” he said, and there has been some blowback. Workaday employees are facing pension cuts and austerity measures as Puerto Rico grapples with its debt. Currently, according to Democracy Now, 55,000 residents are in foreclosure and the government is turning to privatization as the solution for economic woes, which will enrich investors but hurt the working class. In a Bloomberg article Monday about the search for someone to buy the country’s beleaguered electric company, which goes so far as to ask potential buyers how they would like to be regulated, a Puerto Rico resident said, “We are tired of people coming here to get rich and take advantage of us.”  Some grass-roots organizations have taken shape to resist Wall Street — forces that author Naomi Klein explores in a new book, “The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists.”

Greenfader noted that insurance premiums will likely continue to rise, and the Jones Act, a shipping law that requires goods to stop in a mainland port, makes commodities expensive. Whatever economic policies prevail, at least new construction on the island should be more resilient. Greenfader said builders already adhere to codes that mirror Miami-Dade’s, which were made stronger after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. They use reinforced concrete and no wood. Going forward, he said, there is a commitment to using more sustainable designs, particularly in the energy space, such as solar power arrays and micro electric grids. Today, about 10,000 customers in Puerto Rico who lost electricity after last year’s hurricanes are still without power. 

 
Read more at:https://www.bisnow.com/south-florida/news/economy/puerto-rico-hurricanes-john-paulson-nick-prouty-89403?be=rudecourt%40gmail.com&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=wed-13-jun-2018-000000-0400_south-florida-re

Renewed efforts and enthusiasm to promote Puerto Rico’s business and tourism industries

The Puerto Rico Builders Association continues with renewed effort and enthusiasm to promote Puerto Rico’s business and tourism industries on the island as well as the mainland U.S..  In 2017, the Puerto Rico Builders Association and Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares hosted over two hundred investors, developers, and institutional capital groups at the Caribbean and Latin America Investment Summit. The event was a resounding success and attracted many large investment groups to Puerto Rico  – as well as garnered much National and International media attention.

03-21-2017-323

03-20-2017-262

Building on last year’s success, The Puerto Rico Builders Association will be hosting with Bisnow, the largest platform for CRE news, events and education in the world, its first Caribbean Hospitality Investment Summit in Miami. Join us on August 23, 2018, at the summit, where we will gather industry leaders and key government representatives to discuss everything from hotel and resort development, to the future of tourism, resiliency, and recovery strategies. Some of the speakers include:

Ing. Emilio Colón Zavala
President 
Puerto Rico Builders Association/ ECZ Group, Richard Millard
CEO
Trust Hospitality, Rogerio Basso
Head of Tourism
Inter-American Development Bank, Fernando Fernandez Vice President Of Development, Caribbean Apple Leisure Group,  Jonathan Kracer
Founder
Sion Capital, LLC., Ted Middleton
Senior Vice President – Development – Hilton Worldwide, Christian Glauser-Benz
Vice President, Development & Acquisitions
Dream Hotel Group, Harry Cook
Capital Member, Real Estate & Finance Practice Group
McConnell Valdés, Vanessa Mange
Director, Global Development Kimpton Hotels, Jorge Ruiz-Montilla
Capital Member and Chairman, Real Estate & Finance Practice Group
McConnell Valdés,

03-21-2017-182

03-21-2017-318

For more information about the event, please contact Adam Greenfader at 305.363.8833 or to grab a ticket, visit Bisnow’s event page. https://www.bisnow.com/south-florida/events/hotel/Caribbean-Hospitality-Investment-Summit-980

 

 

 

Follow the Money: Paulson Compares Puerto Rico Today to Miami in the 1980s

Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson has been buying a lot of sand lately — specifically, Puerto Rican sand. Despite Puerto Rico’s massive debt crisis, Paulson sees big profits ahead. He has plowed “quite a bit” — an estimated $1.5 billion — of his personal wealth into buying hotels, a resort and office buildings on the island. Paulson compares Puerto Rico today to Miami in the 1980s.”It’s similar to that period in Miami’s history,” Paulson said Thursday at the Puerto Rico Investment Summit. “There was a lot of real estate on the beach, lots of abandoned buildings and vacant lots. That was definitely the best time to buy [in Miami].”

Below are some selected articles: 

http://caribbeanbusiness.com/paulson-buys-harbour-lakes-in-palmas-del-mar/

Paulson & Co. Inc., a New York-based investment firm, has acquired Harbour Lakes in the Palmas del Mar resort community located in the municipality of Humacao, Puerto Rico, the firm announced Thursday. The acquisition consists of 149 condominium units offered for sale, from 1,637 square feet (sq. ft.) to 2,045 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms.

http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/12/investing/puerto-rico-john-paulson/

Despite Puerto Rico’s massive debt crisis, Paulson sees big profits ahead. He has plowed “quite a bit” — an estimated $1.5 billion — of his personal wealth into buying hotels, a resort and office buildings on the island. Paulson compares Puerto Rico today to Miami in the 1980s. “It’s similar to that period in Miami’s history,” Paulson said Thursday at the Puerto Rico Investment Summit. “There was a lot of real estate on the beach, lots of abandoned buildings and vacant lots. That was definitely the best time to buy [in Miami].” 

The hedge-fund manager said he’s still considering moving to the Caribbean island from New York after flirting with the idea in 2013. Beautiful weather, real-estate opportunities and tax breaks have resulted in Paulson buying luxury hotels and a 326,000 square-foot (30,286 square-meter) office building in San Juan’s financial district, he said during the 2016 Puerto Rico Investment Summit in San Juan on Thursday. He plans to expand his St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort and develop new condominiums in the Condado neighborhood of San Juan. He already owns a home and an apartment on the island.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-11/john-paulson-says-he-s-still-considering-move-to-puerto-rico-ikiv6c1w

“I came here because I think they’ve hit bottom,” said Tennenbaum, 80, who manages assets of over $6 billion and moved to the island two months ago on Paulson’s urging. “In a democracy, it takes a crisis for change to take place.”Tennenbaum plans to form a corporation under Puerto Rico’s Act 20, which gives businesses that move to the island a 4 percent corporate tax rate and exemptions on dividends and property taxes. He also plans to create a merchant bank. On Thursday, the island received a lift from one of its biggest cheerleaders, John A. Paulson, the billionaire hedge fund manager, who is investing $20 million for the San Juan Beach Hotel.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/realestate/puerto-rico-luring-buyers-with-tax-breaks.html

And it is true that Puerto Rico is a bargain. At the St. Regis Bahia Beach, for example, arguably some of the most expensive real estate in Puerto Rico, condos with oceanfront views are priced at around $600 a square foot; in Miami, a similar unit would cost around $2,000 a square foot.Over the last 10 months, the St. Regis Bahia Beach sold nine condos, priced at $800,000 to $1.6 million, all to American buyers, according to Paulson & Company. The resort is also constructing six oceanfront villas, priced at $10 million to $12 million; two have already sold.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/24/business/dealbook/john-paulsons-hedge-fund-to-buy-another-puerto-rico-hotel.html?_r=0

Paulson & Company, Mr. Paulson’s $20 billion hedge fund, has agreed to renovate the San Juan Beach Hotel and turn it into an “ultraluxury boutique hotel” over the next few months, the Puerto Rico Department of Commerce and Economic Development said. Mr. Paulson has been buying real estate on the island for years. He is building a home there and has acquired some of the island’s most exclusive hotels, including the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, La Concha Renaissance Hotel and Tower, and the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/some-investors-bet-on-puerto-rico-hotels-1438092464

Some Investors Bet on Puerto Rico Hotels. Fund manager John Paulson boosts his stakes; Blackstone cuts back. Puerto Rico’s worsening debt crisis only seems to whet the appetite of a small but devoted group of distressed investors.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-06-26/paulson-s-puerto-rico-paradise-lures-rich-fleeing-taxes

Paulson is betting that millionaires will come in droves. In his presentation, in which he forecast that Puerto Rico would become “the Singapore of the Caribbean,” he said he plans to develop residential and office properties to go beyond the current high-end offerings. Since the first homes were built in 2007 by BBP Partners (BBP) – a joint venture between two of Puerto Rico’s leading real estate developers, Interlink Group and Muñoz Holdings – more than $125 million worth of residences have been sold at the resort and the $150 million St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort opened in 2010. Paulson is acquiring a majority interest in Bahia Beach through a comprehensive recapitalization. The firm has roughly $18 billion under management and has offices in New York, London and Hong Kong.

http://www.reuters.com/article/usa-puertorico-paulson-idUSL2N0QL20Q20140815

U.S. hedge fund Paulson & Co is upping its bet in Puerto Rico real estate with the purchase of an office building in San Juan’s financial district from American International Group Inc .The 326,000 square-foot building is the latest real estate purchase for the $23 billion hedge fund on the Caribbean island where Paulson & Co is betting on an economic turnaround. He owns 8.6% of Banco Popular, the island’s largest bank.