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U.S. Commerce Department Invests $4.5 Million to Convert Former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station to Commercial Use

By on April 16, 2020

(Screen capture of http://www.rooseveltroads.pr.gov)

Grant Will Rehabilitate Port Control Building to House ‘Early-Stage Tourism Businesses’

SAN JUAN — U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Thursday that his department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $4.5 million grant to the Local Redevelopment Authority for Roosevelt Roads to rehabilitate a building and make other infrastructure improvements on former Naval Station Roosevelt Roads.

The grant will support “early-stage businesses focused on the visitor economy,” said the EDA, which makes investments in economically distressed communities to create jobs and drive economic growth. The grant is expected to create 134 jobs and “spur $1.5 million in private investment.” The project, which is located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $1.25 million in local funds.

“The redevelopment of the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station will bring businesses back to a vital waterfront area,” Ross said.

“This investment will rehabilitate Roosevelt Road’s Port Control Building for use as a multi-tenant, commercial space that will house early-stage tourism businesses,” explained Dana Gartzke, who according to the press release is performing the delegated duties of the assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “The project will also improve streets and sidewalks to facilitate pedestrian and vehicle traffic between the commercial site and the ferry terminal, and the project’s location in an Opportunity Zone will encourage additional business development.”

Puerto Rico Gov. Wnada Vázquez Garced was quoted in the release as saying: “As the island continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take proactive measures to alleviate the economic damage caused by previous natural disasters. We will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Commerce to ensure a full recovery for the island.”

“This is an important economic boost that assists with the revitalization of the Roosevelt Roads base at the town of Ceiba,” added the Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón. “I am thankful for the collective effort to work on this initiative after we secured some of these funds with the Bipartisan Budget Law of 2018. This adds up to other efforts we have led such as the language incorporation into the conference report on the National Defense Authorization (NDAA) Law of 2020 that commits the federal government to collaborate with local and private stakeholders to effectively address economic challenges and opportunities in Vieques, Culebra and the adjacent communities of the former Naval Base Roosevelt Roads.”

The project is funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (Pub. L. 116-20) (PDF), in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program (PDF) funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, wildfires, and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

On April 9, the said it was awarding a $1.1 million grant to the University of Puerto Rico to hire three Disaster Recovery Coordinators to execute disaster recovery efforts throughout the island. The grant was said to be matched with $266,400 in local investment.

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