Excitement builds over the Puerto Rico Convention Center opening in San Juan in late 2005.Ê

With one-third of the construction complete, the 580,000 square-foot (53,882 square-meter) facility takes shape as the largest convention center in the Caribbean. In November, the new Convention Center’s last contract was awarded to Caparra Construction Corp. The $25-million contract covers interior work, including bricklaying, cabinetry, architectural finishes and flooring.
Last month at the construction site, workers closed off the second and third floors.ÊWith its high ceilings, the three-story Puerto Rico Convention Center will stand at 580 feet (177 meters), the height of a typical 13-story building. Level One will house the entry lobby, concourse and 152,700 square-foot (14,186 square-meter) exhibit hall. The facility’s 36,200 square feet (3,363 square meters) of meetings space will be on Levels One and Two in 12 rooms that subdivide into 25 breakout rooms.Also on Level Two will be show managers conference rooms and a balcony providing views of the exhibit space below.Ê Level Three will have a 12,800 square-foot (1,189 square-meter) covered terrace and 39,500 square-foot (3,670 square-meter) ballroom, the largest ballroom in the Caribbean.“From the terrace, conventioneers will have a spectacular, panoramic view of our capital city, including mountains, ocean, Old San Juan and the modern city with the renowned Condado hotel strip,” explains Jorge Pesquera, executive director, Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, marketing and sales agent for the new Convention Center. “San Juan is a meetings destination like no place else,” Pesquera continues. “Conventioneers here often feel like they have gone to an exotic, international destination. In reality, San Juan is easily accessible from major cities worldwide. Once here, conventioneers are doing business in the United States, with the dollar as the currency and English as the spoken language. San Juan boasts a Business District with the most advanced technology in the Caribbean and sophisticated infrastructure to accommodate large meetings and conventions superbly.“As of December, the entire Puerto Rico Convention Center District was 45 percent complete. With construction charging ahead at full speed, the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority is seeking a developer-operator for a 500-room, full-service anchor hotel adjacent to the new Convention Center. The first stage of the Request For Qualification process ended last month, when Hyatt, Marriott and Starwood, under the Sheraton flag, were identified as the finalists in the bidding process to plan, develop and operate the hotel.The Puerto Rico Convention Center will be the centerpiece of the Puerto Rico Convention Center District, a $415-million (U.S. dollars) destination that is the largest waterfront development project in the history of the U.S. and its territories. Conceived as a dynamic urban center, the Convention Center District combines business and entertainment in one 113-acre (46 hectãres) complex. In addition to the hotel and new Convention Center, the District will house stores, offices, movie theater, residential units and restaurants. There, conventioneers will be able to experience the vibrant energy and culture distinctive to Puerto Rico.