Caribbean Business, 19/5/2000


The former Ponce Intercontinental Hotel will soon have a
new owner.After being abandoned for nearly 30 years,
the 170 room hotel is expected
to be sold by the Puerto Rico Industrial Development
Co.(Pridco) by July.

Caribbean Business learned that one of the interested
buyers is George Philip Rivera,who owns the second
largest shrimp farm in Puerto Rico and also works as a
local Boxing Promoter.

Rivera and his partners plan to remodel the deserted
property and rename it as El Vigía Hotel &

We [Pridco and the Puerto Rico Tourism Co.] have been
negotiating to sell the hotel to the interested party for
over two years,"said José Santiago,real state officer at
PRIDCO."Today,the sale is in its final stages."

The hotel's price tag was not disclosed.

Santiago said the sale of the Ponce Intercontinental Hotel
was a slow and difficult process.

"The Hotel needed to get evaluated by the Tourism
Co.,the interested buyer needed to find a company to
back him up financially, and the goverment also needed
to review any other bids submitted by potential investors
to buy the hotel," Santiago said.

According to PRIDCO, there were not too many people
interested in buying the hotel because it is in extremely
bad condition due to it's 30 year abandonment.

"At one time,the empty hotel served as a shelter for those
affected by the mudslides at Mameyes," Santiago said.

Despite the property's condition, Rivera proved to be a
determined investor.

"Rivera could visualize the hotel's potential," Santiago

A source said that Rivera has ambitious expansion plans
for the property.He plans to construct Villas, a multilevel
parking lot,and banquet facilities.

The former Intercontinental is located on a hilltop and
has a spectacular view of the city of Ponce.The site is
near the Serrallés Castle Museum.

Pridco gave Rivera a three month extension in his option
to buy the former Ponce Intercontinental property.

Before the hotel is sold,Pridco must invest close to
$200,000 in repairs for plumbing fixtures and the removal
of asbestos."We expect to begin repairing the building by the end of
this month," Santiago said.

Pridco anticipates the the enviromental clean up should
take at least a month.

Pridco acquired the former Ponce Intercontinental
Property in 1985,when apparently former owner Ponce
Hotel Corp., headed by Sam Schweider,was in debt with
the goverment. 1