By : KEVIN MEAD
And then there was one.
The Roosevelt Roads Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) has singled out Clark Realty Capital in its search for a master developer to oversee the $3 billion development of some 3,000 acres at the former Naval Station Roosevelt Roads in Ceiba.
The Arlington, Va.-based company is seasoned in redeveloping U.S. military bases around the mainland. Established in 1992, Clark Realty Capital has substantial transactional and operational experience in acquisition, development, financing, and asset management with a diverse portfolio of residential, retail, mixed-use, commercial, and land developments. Its development portfolio spans more than 60 projects, 38,000 residential units, 10,000 acres of land, and 50 million SF of development, comprising $7 billion of public and private work developed or under development.
The LRA said in a statement that Clark Realty’s mixed-use proposal includes the development of hotels, housing, offices, a shopping center, retail stores, restaurants, a light industry area, a port zone for cruises, a marina, a terminal for high-speed ferries, schools, golf courses, and other uses.
The redevelopment of the sprawling former base at Puerto Rico’s northeastern end is expected to entail an investment of $3.2 billion over 30 years. It is projected to generate 28,000 permanent jobs and 3,000 construction jobs, according to the LRA.
Clark Realty Capital is projected to invest $50 million in the project over the first two years.
“We are very excited about the selection of Clark Realty Capital as the master developer of Roosevelt Roads because of its experience and amazing technical, conceptual and finanacial credentials,” said LRA Executive Director Malu Blázquez Arsuaga.
Clark Realty Capital was among four entities to that made it through to the request for proposals stage in September. The others included Roosevelt Roads Redevelopment, a corporation made up of roughly a dozen executives from well-known companies. It involves local investors, but the bulk of its funding is from investors in Brazil, the U.S. mainland and England. They include Virgin Atlantic billionaire Richard Branson.
Also in the running was Uruguay-based Ariel Investment Management is a real estate investment, development and advisory group focused on creating investment solutions for real estate, agribusiness and strategic land acquisitions throughout Latin America.
The other was OHorizons, a Puerto Rico-based corporation associated to an investment group backed by Chines capital. It is headed by local auto industry executive Orlando Bustos.
Only three of the dour submitted RFPs, but the LRA did not say who sat out the final process. It appears that Roosevelt Roads Redevelopment bowed out.
Clark Realty Capital now enters the exclusive negotiation phase, which is expected to close by the end of January. The contract is expected to be hammered out, finalized and signed by the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.
Economic Development & Commerce Secretary Alberto Bacó said talks are ongoing with Ariel Investment and OHorizons about possible development projects in other geographical areas of Puerto Rico.
The LRA had estimated that the multi-decade development plan would require a $2 billion investment and create an estimated 20,000 jobs over nine development zones. The mixed-use development entails a cruise-ship port, hotels, casino, ecotourism areas, as well as residential, retail and other components for the former military installation, which sprawls across 8,654 acres of prime coastal land.
That investment figured had ballooned to $3.2 billion over 30 years as of Monday.
Bacó said the project will be “transformational” in its economic impact on the eastern region and Puerto Rico.
The 8,654-acre base was opened in 1943 and once employed about 6,300 people. It was closed following the Navy’s exit from Vieques in 2003. The closure was a big blow to the economy of Ceiba and surrounding towns, pulling down real-estate values, stripping jobs and leaving local businesses out shuttered or struggling to survive.
In 2013, the Navy completed the final transfer to the Puerto Rico government of lands at the sprawling former base when documents were signed to officially hand over two parcels totaling 2,000 acres. The commonwealth had already acquired more than 6,500 acres of former Navy property around the two parcels.