Former church building being turned into innovative apartment complex
RISE Village will be multi-use, as well as energy, communications self-sufficient
SAN JUAN – An eco-friendly, hurricane resilient apartment development project is in the making in the town of Carolina, “in the heart of Isla Verde,” minutes from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Tower Group CEO Jeff Carmichael announced Tuesday.
Joined by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Carmichael spoke of his commitment to the island’s economic development.
RISE Village is a green building designed to be energy self-reliant, with a connection to an off-grid liquefied natural gas plant. It features a recycling program that includes wastewater reclamation, as well as a solid-waste-management system with energy recovery.
The development’s communications system operates via fiber-optic cabling for high-speed internet and data services, and is backed by a satellite system for emergencies, Carmichael said.
Standing 14-stories high, the building will consist of 358 units, of which 150 are reserved for elderly renters and 194 for low- to middle-income families.
The development represents a private capital investment of $120 million, which employed 750 direct and indirect construction jobs and 250 permanent jobs.
“This was built as an office building for a bible museum [the former Fuentes de Agua Viva Church Bible Museum] and we purchased the building from the church in April 2017,” Carmichael noted. “The building was purchased at a price we cannot disclose.”
He said the building suffered “virtually no damage” from the hurricanes [Irma and Maria in 2017], “we just lost a few windows.”
During a walkthrough of the seventh floor, Carmichael told Caribbean Business that “everything is safe in this building.”
“The structural integrity of the building was not damaged by anything at all so it withstood two hurricanes with zero damage,” he said. “We will start finishing the floors for residences in the fourth quarter of 2020, and then the building as a whole should be finished by the first quarter of 2021.”
The building will consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, as well as studio apartments.
“We are going to have one floor of office space, shared offices, and a collaborative office space for people that can come and work for a day, for an hour, a month, a year…,” Carmichael said.
The Tower Group CEO said the project will also have high-speed, “fully redundant” communications system “so this building will never lose connectivity ever,” he said referring to the communications outage in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes.
“It’s going to be smart building in that sense,” he added. “And so we have put a lot of design effort–our team, with engineers and architects, have worked together to develop that concept. So the plan is that this building will be a source of safety and resilience and it will be self-sustained for power and all the units will be offered with utilities included in their rental.”
Carmichael explained that to be off the grid, an LNG plant is being built to provide power to the entire building.
“And then we will have solar as a backup additional power source. All of that will be included in the rent, which includes water,” he said. “We are going to be an all-inclusive, with hurricane-impact-resistant windows and all the apartments will have a balcony. So everybody will be able to enjoy the outside.”
He further spoke about the rooftop, which will feature a “pet walk,” exercise track, a green space and barbecue area. Meanwhile, the ground floor is going to be a food hall, modeled after places in Madrid and Barcelona, where residents and visitors will find a combination of prepared food, fresh food, produce, fresh meat and fresh fish “so people can come and either stay there and eat or pick up something and take home.”
Carmichael called the “Food Hall and Fresh Food Market, a true celebration of community and culture” that will be the centerpiece of the development. It will house more than 40 food and beverage stations, and will highlight locally sourced fruits, vegetables, herbs, fish and meats as well as prepared foods from local chefs and vendors.
Puerto Rican coffee will be roasted on site, the produce “will be freshly pressed into healthy, delicious juices and the growing craft beer movement, as well as Puerto Rican rum will be highlighted,” he said.
“They can get fresh stuff and eat later… So the market we envision is for a place for the community to come and hang out,” Carmichael continued. “Today’s groundbreaking marks a milestone in the rental market in Puerto Rico, providing a one-of-a-kind development that will foster community involvement and economic growth,” he said. “This village will contribute to the re-development and sustainable design and living in Puerto Rico.”
The apartments feature up to 18-foot ceilings, modern European-style kitchens, and floor-to-ceiling glass and terraces with views of El Yunque Rainforest, the Isla Verde coastline and Laguna Los Corozos, a release reads.
Other amenities include valet parking, 24-hour security, a “wellness club,” a business center with private meeting rooms and co-working offices for rent, a cinema, a game room, an event ballroom with capacity for 500 people, an outdoor barbecue area, a fitness center, an art gallery, a demonstration kitchen for activities and events, and workday shuttle services.
“Puerto Rico continues to rise to the challenges it faces with resolute determination to thrive,” Carmichael said. “We want to contribute to the resilient nature of its people, forging alliances and fostering creative ways to reach common goals. RISE Village is a village with a purpose.”