The Puerto Rico Symposium in Miami With Historic Announcement

 

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The Governor of Puerto Rico Pedro Pierluisi made the historic announcement at The Puerto Rico Symposium in Miami that Puerto Rico was officially out of bankruptcy. The message was well received by over 250 industry leaders from both the public and private sectors.  The event was organized by The Urban Land Institute South East Florida / Caribbean and The Puerto Rico Builders Association.

 

Governor Pedro Pierluisi
Governor Pedro Pierluisi makes historic announcement

 

The Symposium was kicked-off by Scott McLaren, President ULI SE Florida / Caribbean. Scott spoke about the longstanding relationship and collaboration between ULI and the Puerto Rico Builders Association. He highlighted the work on the ULI National Advisory Services Panel on social, economic, and physical resilience in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. https://seflorida.uli.org/toa-baja-puerto-rico-panel/

Scott Maclaren finished his remarks by recognizing  Vanessa de Mari, the new President of the Puerto Rico Builders Association and the first women president in the organization’s 70 year history. The Symposium was dedicated to this historic accomplishment. In attendance were some of Puerto Rico’s top government leaders.  This included the Honorable Pedro Pierluisi, Governor of Puerto Rico, Manuel Laboy, COR3 Executive Director,  Maretzie Diaz, Deputy Director PR Housing Department CDBG-DR, Natalia I. Zequeira, Commissioner of Financial Institutions, and in attendance, the Secretary of Housing of Puerto Rico, William Rodríguez Rodríguez. The keynote address by the Honorable Pedro Pierluisi, Governor of Puerto Rico’s highlighted the island’s economic accomplishments, the end of Puerto Rico’s population exodus, and the conclusion of the bankruptcy which was officially announced the day of the Symposium.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/puerto-rico-is-out-of-bankruptcy-after-a-22-billion-debt-exchange-1.1738142

In the private sector, Ricardo Alvarez-Diaz, CEO, Alvarez-Diaz & Villalon discussed some of progress of the island’s rebuilding after the 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria. The reconstruction of the island was  a constant theme throughout the day with specific examples of over 900 started projects.

The first panel, “Why Puerto Rico: Stories of Success,  was a testament to the resiliency of the development community. Moderated by Andrew Carlson, SVP Country Manager, of JLL the discussion highlighted the historic growth of the island’s hospitality sector with the construction and/or renovation of over 3,000 new room keys from El Conquistador, Grand Reserve (formerly known as Coco Beach), Sheraton, AC , and many others. The panel included Federico Sanchez, President & CEO, Interlink Group.

 

Speakers Panel
Dan Kodsi, Brad Dean, Rafael Rojo, Andrew Carson

 

Dan Kodsi, CEO, Royal Palm Companies, Rafael E. Rojo, President & CEO, VRM Companies. Also in attendance was Brad Dean, CEO, Discover Puerto Rico who highlighted the island’s impressive tourism growth (ADR and occupancy rates) during the Covid 19 pandemic and new expansion of tourism throughout all U.S. feeder markets.

As Puerto Rico seeks to build back its tourism and other industries, the financial sector will invariably play a major role. One of the goals of the Puerto Rico Symposium was to facilitate the conversation of growth in both traditional banking as well as new Fintech, IFEs, and other debt/equity players.  Natalia I. Zequeira, Commissioner of Financial Institutions, explained the ease of regulations and process for new financial institutions as Puerto Rico shares many of the same regulations of the U.S. states on the mainland. Ms. Zequeira also mentioned that International Financial Entities (IFE) can now participate in special opportunity projects.

https://www.investpr.org/key-sectors/finance-and-insurance/

Michael McDonnell, Executive Vice President, First Bank, that recently re-opened its  construction division, was bullish on the island’s economic prospects and announced that the Puerto Rico will achieve positive economic growth (GDP) this year– something it has not done in over a decade.  Banesco USA announced the U.S. Department of the Treasury, will invest more than $8.7 billion through ECIP in institutions across the country – Banesco USA is the only bank recipient located in Florida or Puerto Rico.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/banesco-usa-approved-to-receive-237-5-million-investment-from-the-us-treasurys-emergency-capital-investment-program-301445832.html

Over the last few years, we have all hear about the 80 billion dollars of relief aid that has been allocated to Puerto Rico and is coming. In the “Myth versus Reality panel: Federal Funding Opportunities on The Island,” moderator Ella Woger Nieves of Invest Puerto Rico helped lift-up the proverbial transparency veil. Manuel Laboy, the COR3 Executive Director spoke with detailed facts of the funding by agency with FEMA authorizing 5 billion for temporary work, 21 Billion for 9,000 permanent projects and 800 that are currently under construction today. He also discussed the next wave of over 900 projects that are currently under engineering and design.  Much of this work will be channeled through CDBG-DR and the PR Housing Department. Maretzie Diaz, the Deputy Director PR Housing Department, explained the process for companies wanting to participate in the island’s rebuilding of housing and infrastructure. Mahdu Beriwal, Owner/founder of EIM provided first-hand knowledge of the rebuilding work in Puerto Rico.

 

Adam Greenfader, Ricardo Alvarez-Diaz, Pamela Pautenade, Vanessa de Mari, Alfredo Martinez, Emilion Colon

 

Keynote Speaker Pamela Pautenade, Ex. Deputy Secretary of HUD, was also on hand to share her experiences about the collaboration with the Puerto Rico Builders Association during the 2017 hurricanes crisis. In a moving conversation with Ricardo Alvarez-Diaz, Mrs. Pautenade explained the dedication of the island’s public and private sectors and dispelled any rumors about misuse of relief funds.

 

Keynote Lunch Address
Andrew Farkas, Adam Greenfader

 

Puerto Rico, like much of the Caribbean is in the process of bouncing back from the Covid 19 pandemic.  Adam Greenfader, who chairs the ULI Caribbean Council had a high level sit down conversation with keynote Speaker Andrew Farkas, CEO Island Capital Group. The conversation was focused on social equity and specifically what  role the financial sector has in supporting the region with a particular focus on sustainability, ESG, and helping economic migrants return back to their island homes.

In the last few years Puerto Rico has become known as blockchain capital of the world. While thousands of tech savvy individuals have moved to the island to take advantage of federal tax incentives they have inadvertently created a new economic driver for the Puerto Rico.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-12-11/crypto-rich-are-moving-to-puerto-rico-world-s-new-luxury-tax-haven

 

In our “Fintech & Financial Innovation panel in Puerto Rico, Moderator Nathan Whigham, Founder & President, EN Capital discussed the growth of this huge industry. Rodrick Miller, CEO, Invest Puerto Rico, explained what his group is doing to change the paradigm in Puerto Rico from selling tax incentives to focusing on the island’s quality of labor, education system, and proficiency in bio science and other innovations. Stephen Inglis, CEO, Importal explained his new portal to monetize tax credits and  Yael Tamar, CEO & Co-founder, SolidBlock explained how her company is integrating real estate and blockchain.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/invest-puerto-rico-elevates-the-islands-role-as-a-global-bioscience-rd-and-manufacturing-hub-attracting-two-major-life-critical-investments-228m-in-new-activity-301221471.html

After a marathon day of conversation it was amazing to see the room still full for our last panel “Growth Industries and Tax Incentives” moderated by Carla Campos and an all-star team including  Jorge Ruiz Montilla, McConnel Valdez,  Francisco Luis, of Kevane Grant Thornton and Rogelio “Roy” Carrasquillo, of the Carrasquillo Law Group. In this panel, specific programs like the Tourism Tax Incentive were explained in detail and there was robust conversation regarding how these incentives have created new jobs in manufacturing, life sciences, construction, and agro-science.

 

On behalf of all of us at the Puerto Rico Builders Association and The Urban Land Institute SE Florida/ Caribbean, thank you to all of the people and sponsors that made The Puerto Rico Symposium possible. We are all hopeful that together both the public and private sector can create long lasting sustainable economic growth.

 

 

For more information about investing in Puerto Rico visit our web site or contact us.

AG&T is a real estate development and consulting company founded in 1998 with headquarters in Miami, Florida. Our  track record spans over 55 real estate development projects in Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and various other Caribbean islands.

 

New Hotel Announced in St. Maarten

Site Plan of Hotel

INDIGO BAY–Two prominent real estate development firms have partnered with Cay Bay Development (CBD) NV, the master developer at Indigo Bay Development, to propose the development of a US $220 million luxury hotel resort and condos in St. Maarten.  AG&T provided advisory services and a group of independent real estate brokers led by Adam Greenfader at Oceanfront International Group at Douglas Elliman coordinated the transaction. 

 

 

The proposed high-end hotel development at Indigo Bay Development,  is expected to feature certain luxury accommodations and five-star amenities, including 94 hotel rooms and suites, and 130 residential homes. Additionally, the proposed hotel development is expected to feature large water ponds and greenery areas in keeping with its eco-centric vision, as well as an extensive public parking area for public beach access to Indigo Bay.

  “The timing for such a development could not have come at a more opportune time, as country St. Maarten is tasked with creating new and innovative strategies to counter the global economic crisis due to the pandemic,”.

In an economy whereby hospitality and tourism are at the centre of its recovery, it is expected that the development of a high-end branded hotel in St. Maarten would provide an enormous boost to this endeavour by enhancing several areas in tourism.

 

Hotel Concept at Indigo Bay

 

According to the release it can enhance St. Maarten’s global attractiveness as a prime tourist destination; increase hotel accommodation by approximately 20 per cent; increase the number of annual visitors to St. Maarten by 32,000 based on hotel occupancy of 65 per cent (double) and an average stay of five nights; and attract high value tourists who may choose St. Maarten as a vacation destination as opposed to accessing surrounding islands through its air and sea ports of entry, it was stated in the release.

The proposed world-class hotel development, once completed, will be managed by an internationally-recognised hotel brand, which will lend itself to greater global recognition, the release said. The projected marketed average daily rate (ADR) for hotel rooms at the proposed new hotel development is expected to be substantially higher than the current average daily rates on St. Maarten.

The CBD and the principals of the proposed hotel development seek to assure that the interest of the citizenry and of the environment are paramount to their endeavor.  Six acres of the overall hotel site of about 18 acres is projected as a green zone, including the retention ponds that were originally constructed at Indigo Bay Development by CBD. 

For more information about Caribbean hotel opportunities contact us 

Coming Back with FirstCaribbean Investment Bank

Isabel de Caires

Isabel de Caires at FirstCaribbean Investment Bank discusses how the bank is working through these unprecedented times of the COVID19 pandemic. For more information about how to finance your project in the in the Caribbean contact AG&T.

 

 

The State of Tourism in Latin America and Caribbean with IDB Invest

See full video here.

ULI Caribbean Conversation “The role of multilateral development banks (MDBs) in supporting the tourism sector in Latin America and the Caribbean”.

Conversation with with Rogerio Basso, Head of Tourism at IDB Invest and Adam Greenfader, Chair ULI Caribbean Council / Managing Partner AG&T.

* State of affairs of the tourism sector prior to COVID-19?

* What makes this crisis different than prior ones?

* What tourism players are doing to mitigate the impact of the pandemic?

* Top three actions to better face this crisis?

Rogerio Basso leads all initiatives related to tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean for IDB Invest, the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank Group. In his capacity as Head of Tourism, he is responsible for origination, investments and for executing IDB Invest’s tourism strategy in the region, offering a variety of financial instruments including debt, mezzanine and equity. Rogerio has executed numerous tourism transactions in the region spanning from hotels to conference centers.With over two decades of experience in banking, private equity, development, and strategy consulting within the hospitality and real estate sectors, Rogerio has held a variety of positions across top global firms, working across a variety of domestic and foreign markets, with a strong focus in Latin America. Prior to joining IDB Invest, he was CIO at Key International, a Miami-based real estate investment platform active across many industry sectors. He also served as EVP Acquisitions & Development for Terranum Hotels, an owner and operator of hotels across Latin America, sponsored by Colombia-based Santo Domingo Group and Sam Zell’s Equity International.

 Rogerio holds a business degree from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.

Travel and Tourism and the COVID19 Pandemic

Headshot of Brad Dean

The Covid 19 pandemic has brought worldwide tourism to a standstill. In this ULI Caribbean Conversation, we speak with Brad Dean, CEO of Puerto Rico’s Destination Marketing Organization (DMO).  Brad shares some insights about what some of the top private and public minds in the industry are thinking, planning, and prepping for travel 2.0.

” I think this down time gives the travel and tourism industry our George Bailey moment. “We have all seen that without travel it’s pretty ugly….there is a lot greater value to travel than most of us ever realized..travel lifts spirits, it connects people, it leads to progress, exclaimed Brad Dean.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

AG&T is a real estate development and consulting company founded in 1998 with headquarters in Miami, Florida. Our  track record spans over 55 real estate development projects in Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and various other Caribbean islands.

Sustainability at the heart of hotel design in the future

Green Hotels

Sustainability has been a buzzword within the design community, and hoteliers have been latching onto the idea of the past number of years

Sustainability has long been a buzzword within the design community, and hoteliers in particular have been latching onto the idea of the past number of years. Not only is it a response to an increased awareness of climate change and the impact we as humans, especially those working in one aspect of the construction industry, have on the planet, but it is also a response to client demand, with more and more guests desiring sustainable tourism as a requirement in their holidays. An annual competition run by hotel consultancy firm the John Hardy Group called Radical Innovation Award takes submissions for innovative hotel designs that reimagine the hospitality experience, and this year’s entries and winners point to a significant upswing in sustainable hospitality that could well be the future of the industry.

The award has singled out a number of visionary projects as finalists, but many of the entries proposed radical ideas that threw out the rulebook of hospitality design. A common theme was that of sustainability, both in an environmentally friendly sense, but also in a cultural sense, where local culture and art is celebrated and promoted. This also points to recent trends in hospitality where local experiences are being sought by guests wishing to engage more with the place and people they are visiting.

Green or garden hotels were a big feature of a number of entries. Canadian firm Arno Matis Architecture proposed a project entitled the “Vertical Micro-Climate Hotel”, whose concept is to make the outdoor areas of hotels located in the harsh climates of North America habitable all year round. One of the features of this hotel was the use of heliostat technology, a mirroring system which reflects sun back into certain parts of the building as required so as to make them habitable even in colder weather conditions. EoA’s submission involved suspending hotel facilities from a treetop by using a system of cables to hold rooms in tent-form above a trampoline-like platform, giving the hotel a very small footprint above the forest floor and re-orientating the guest’s field of vision to that from the tree canopy. A Dutch architecture student submitted a project that he had built in his mother’s back garden which connects guests to nature while allowing them to sleep in a sustainably built and naturally ventilated structure.

The culturally sustainable aspect came in the form of the currently-operational Play Design Hotel in Taiwan, which champions local artists and designers by installing their creations into hotel rooms and encouraging guest to interact with them. The idea came about after the developer noticed a lot of his artist friends were having to go abroad to showcase their designs, and he thought that it would be better to not only exhibit the work locally in hotels so that international guests could see them, but also to cultivate an environment of design engagement within the hotels themselves. “I want people to experience the culture of this country and played a lot with the idea of using the hotel as a portal for people who want to learn about Taiwanese design, a space that is furnished with all of these local designers’ work. So, their work is not only shown but so it’s experienced. Design isn’t something you only put in a museum or gallery. It should be used. It’s for your everyday use,” says hotelier Ting-Han Chen.

 

Article by Hospitality.net. 

Puerto Rico Tourism Optimistic in 2017

SAN JUAN – Citing a 96% reduction in the number of new Zika cases since the peak in October, the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) is optimistic heading into 2017. The PRTC launched an educational outreach program in February to dissipate “the fears and communicate the real facts” about Zika, its newest press release reads. Collaborating with the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association (PRHTA) as well as Meet Puerto Rico, the PRTC presented it “Facts not Fear,” campaign. “Communicating the reality that Zika was not growing nearly as rapidly as the CDC had projected, the PRTC worked to change the Zika conversation, and emphasize the reality that reported cases are a fraction of what was projected. Cases are now at about 1 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population versus forecasts that 25% of Puerto Ricans would eventually have the virus by the end of the year,” according to the Tourism Co.’s statement. “The dramatic decrease in the number of Zika cases in Puerto Rico is a testament to our integrated aggressive program to inform and disseminate the facts and allay the fears. The PRTC worked incredibly hard with the industry and health officials to communicate accurate and precise messages about Zika to the public,” Ingrid Rivera Rocafort, executive director of the PRTC, says in the published statement. “Ultimately, our team has been successful in not only educating our residents but protecting our visitors and our critical tourism industry.” Tourism annually contributes nearly $4 billion to Puerto Rico’s economy and was the first industry to come out of the island’s five-year recession, the public corporation explains in its release. “Since the start of Zika, total hotel registrations from Jan.-Sept. in 2016 are 1.6% above 2015 and 10 million passengers are expected to be welcomed by Puerto Rico airports by the end of 2016,” it reads.

Broadway star Chita Rivera, TV host Maía Celeste, baseball stars Carlos Correa and Iván Rodríguez, and Olympic gold medalist Mónica Puig also helped spread the word about how travelers can experience Puerto Rico worry-free. Medical influencers as well delivered the PRTC’s message. These included the late epidemiologist Dr. D.A. Henderson, scholar at the UPMC Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Maryland; Dr. Jason James, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Baptist Hospital in Miami; and Dr. Joseph Rosado, a primary care and emergency care physician in Orange City, FL. In addition, the World Health Organization declared in November that the Zika virus was no longer considered an international public health emergency, the PRTC adds in its release. “Our collaborative efforts to date in 2016 have been effective in allaying fears, controlling Zika and the data backs it up,” notes Clarisa Jimenez, president and CEO of the PRHTA, assures in the written statement. “It is imperative that we keep our foot on the gas pedal and aggressively continue Tourism Co.: