Popular will build its first hotel on the Golden Mile as part of a $300 million investment

With the expectation of reorganizing the company’s physical footprint in the metropolitan area, providing a new workspace in keeping with the times, thus bringing greater dynamism to the Hato Rey area, Popular Inc. (NASDAQ:BPOP) on Tuesday announced a new redevelopment plan for its headquarters, with investment that will exceed $300 million.

The construction of the project called “People’s Campus” is scheduled to start in the third quarter of this year and upon its full completion, It will be Puerto Rico’s first financial district hotel, a new building that will allow the assembly of a third of the bank’s workforce in Hato Rey.New commercial spaces to house a health center available to the institution’s employees, but also to those who work for other businesses in the area, as well as a supermarket and car parks.

The group’s CEO, Ignacio Alvarez, said the construction of Campus Popular will take about three years, and during the construction phase it will create about 1,700 direct and indirect jobs.

Once the project is complete, Carrion speculated that Popular would consider maximizing the two plots of land it owns near the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum to sell to third parties and thereby dedicate them to housing construction, thus aspiring to what should be a mixed use of the so-called financial district of the capital.

With these investments, Popular also aspires to become a kind of meeting place, especially for students and academic communities of the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, Universidad Politécnica, and Universidad de Puerto Rico, with which Tren Urban is connected.

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At a press conference, along with several of the project’s engineers, Alvarez and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Popular Inc. Richard L. Carriondetailing the foundation’s new commitment to the Hato Rey area.

A commitment that, in Carrion’s words, renews the institution’s commitment to Puerto Rico, as it did when Banco Popular’s first headquarters were built in Old San Juan in 1939 and later, in 1965, when it was erected as the heart of the company. For the foundation in Hato Ri.

“We hope that this project will improve the quality of life and the urban fabric of our city,” said Carrion.

According to Alvarez, the new Popular is no different from what other big companies are doing to improve the working environment for their professionals. The lawyer pointed to recent investments made by companies such as Google, Apple and JP Morgan, aimed at transforming workplaces, an investment that in turn leads to better benefits for the organization.

“We are trying to centralize our operations in Hato Re,” Alvarez explained.

To date, Popular has a training center located in the Centro Europa building in Santurce, a complementary building, which was the former headquarters of Citigroup in the El Señorial district of Rio Piedras, as well as a building in the Capara district as a result of the acquisition of Doral Bank’s assets.

According to Alvarez, in the same way that it sold the old Doral Bank building in Capara a little more than a year ago, the corporation recently sold Centro Europa to a third party while signing a lease to maintain the training center there. Even the construction project at Hato Rey.

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In general, Campus Popular can be said to be the second transformation of the popular center. A little over a decade ago, the Foundation transformed the building by constructing a new multi-storey car park, square with a retractable roof, and a dining area in the basement, which in turn gives direct access to Ponce de Leon, the movie theatre, conference rooms and the bridge that It connects Muñoz Rivera Street to the Colosseum.

Now, the new project has three structures, namely: the office building, the hotel and the commercial space that will be located in the parking area of ​​the popular center, a new plaza with a student center to connect the structures and a new multi-complex The parking lot is located across from the Muñoz Riviera, where it is located Health center, gym, supermarket and other stores.

The main building will have an area of ​​about 250,000 square feet and will have about 10 floors of offices and parking. In turn, with this capacity, approximately 85,384 square feet will be allocated to a 126-room hotel that will have independent entrances and another 10,000 square feet for commercial space.

Meanwhile, the parking building, supermarket, gym and other commercial space will cover approximately 33,000 square feet and will add another 500 parking spaces with connectors for recharging electric vehicles.

Alvarez noted that Popular is currently in talks with the company that will run the hotel.

Likewise, the Corporation is still in negotiations with companies that will act as contractors to carry out the works.

The project was in the hands of architects Paul Song, Principal Partner of Perkins Eastman, and Ilya Rios, President of V Architecture. Both stressed that the project seeks to provide a timeless solution, taking into account the new realities left by the coronavirus pandemic and Popular’s interest in developing work in line with environmental protection. For these purposes, the project seeks to comply with the guidelines of the US Building Council, known as LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

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The project will be funded with resources from Banco Popular and the Foundation has received approval from the Government of Puerto Rico to claim credit of up to 20% of the investment under the Opportunity Zones Program.

Clarification:

This note has been updated to indicate that in connection with the construction of future housing on two plots of land near José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, Popular clarified that this possibility necessitates the sale of the two plots of land to a third party, to be used for housing construction.

The note has also been updated to indicate that the tax credits Popular will receive are consistent with legislative benefits locally under the Puerto Rico Opportunity Zones Program. And by an inadvertent error, the Federal Internal Revenue Service was referred to.

Myrtle Frost

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