Urban Land Institute Hosts Cocktail and Magazine Launch Party

The ULI’s (Urban Land Institute) Advisory Services hosted a cocktail reception on May 6, 2019 at Casa Bacardi in celebration of the efforts to help the commonwealth of Puerto Rico with its recovery after the devastating Hurricane María as well as the launching of the association’s new magazine It Is Time To Build, The Magazine.

Julie Medley, ULI’s Executive Director led the efforts of this celebration which resulted in a full house of PRBA members and industry professionals.

The ULI’s Advisory Services program joined forces with ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean and the Puerto Rico Builders Association (PRBA) to select a municipality to receive assistance and therefore become a model for implementing the best construction practices in December of 2018.

The Advisory Service Panel selected Toa Baja, and their goal was to enhance resiliency and to strengthen its economy, which lost $1.3 million in damages to its infrastructure, including over $400 million in damage to personal residential structures.

This panel was a philanthropic effort funded by the Kresge Foundation and ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean and supported by Alvarez-Diaz & Villalón Architecture and Interior Design.

Article written by Claudia Guerrero

La ACPR rechaza las acciones del Comité de Reclamaciones Especiales de la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal

La Asociación de Constructores de Puerto Rico (ACPR) rechaza las acciones del Comité de Reclamaciones Especiales de la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal al radicar sobre 200 demandas a corporaciones e individuos en cobro de dinero con el propósito de recobrar pagos realizados por el gobierno.

“La Junta debe haber hecho un mejor trabajo en ser certeros, discernir responsabilidades, y no incurrir en una pesca de cobros detrás de organizaciones además de corporaciones que le han prestado un servicio al gobierno”, indicó el Ing. Emilio Colón Zavala, presidente de la ACPR.

El Comité de Reclamaciones Especiales estableció una acción de cobro a estas corporaciones e individuos que según alegan recibieron pagos de sobre 2.5 millones, sin un contrato vigente o recibieron pagos que no correspondían a sus respectivos contratos durante un periodo de cuatro años previos a mayo de 2017. “Hay que reconocer que no es solo lo que están haciendo, sino la forma y manera de cómo lo están haciendo. Si de naturaleza resulta oneroso para un suplidor contratar con el aparato gubernamental, las acciones de la Junta incrementan el clima de incertidumbre en las relaciones contractuales entre estos empresarios y el gobierno. Puerto Rico no necesita inyección adicional de incertidumbre alguna en estos tiempos. Por otra parte, preocupa que te asignen responsabilidades sobre la fuente de procedencia de pago cuando le corresponde al gobierno identificar dicha procedencia en cada contrato”, añadió Colón Zavala.

Exhortamos a la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal a que se trabaje en definir servicios esenciales según la Ley PROMESA requiere, se realicen las reformas estructurales necesarias y contribuya a un clima de desarrollo económico sostenido, colaborando estrechamente con el Gobierno de Puerto Rico en los esfuerzos que este realice. Es hora de lograr colocar a Puerto Rico entre las primeras diez jurisdicciones en cuanto a competitividad global y facilidad de hacer negocios si queremos cambiar nuestro destino.

Time to Build! The Magazine

Tiempo de Construir, La Revista, (Time To Build!, The Magazine)  the association’s brand-new magazine, launched its first edition this past month of May and we could not be more thrilled with the results. This magazine is dedicated to all of our members and we could not have done it without the help of you all.

We are extremely grateful for all of your hard work and we only wish to continue to bring light to the extraordinary accomplishments you all contribute to our industry.

We are currently working on the next edition which will be ready by the month of September, so keep an eye out!

Rebuilding Puerto Rico: Plans, Progress, and Future

The Puerto Rico Builders Association (PRBA) participated in the 3rd edition of the Puerto Rico Investors Conference organized by lifeafar. The three-day event held in El Convento Hotel in Old San Juan, focused its agenda in providing the tools for investors to profit from Puerto Rico’s resurgence.

On his first participation PRBA chairman, Eng. Emilio Colón-Zavala, offered a presentation titled

Rebuilding Puerto Rico: Plans, Progress and Future, Eng. Colón-Zavala participated as one of the main speakers providing important data to the potential investors on the status of Puerto Rico’s reconstruction after hurricanes Irma and María.

The PRBA continued its contribution with lifeafar on the third day of the conference with the participation of Eng. Colón-Zavala as moderator of the panel Building and Contractor Challenges for Puerto Rico Developers, this panel had the participation of Carlos M. Colón, VP Real Estate Development, Mutual Development Service Corp., Carlos A. Camacho, AIT- Senior Design Architect, Miguel Calzada Arquitectos and JJ Amado, President and Founder of JJ Amado; Associates. Eng. Colón- Zavala concluded his participation in a final Q&A panel to cover las minute questions from attendees.

In the Best Interest of the Industry

The PRBA, in its continuous efforts regarding the country’s bests interests in the construction industry and its rebuilding, actively participated in public hearings and important meetings to discuss issues than affects our industry .


Increase in construction costs, the Incentive Code and Property Tax

This week members of the Board of Directors  met with the Governor’s Secretary of Public Affairs, Phillipe Mesa, esq., to discuss the increase on construction costs, the Incentive Code and the proposal of the Federal Treasury related to the property tax, among others.



CDBG-DR funds for rebuilding efforts

Members of the Puerto Rico Builders Association recently met with the Undersecretary of Housing, Eng. Dennis González, to clarify information regarding the CDBG-DR funds, which are the funds allocated to Puerto Rico for reconstruction efforts.



Public hearings participation on Incentive Code

Recently, the PRBA was represented by Eng. Jorge Guerrero in the public hearings of the proposed Incentives Code at the Legislature.



PRBA Contributes with the Department of Education in its State Convention on Professional Development

Puerto Rico Builders Association (PRBA) collaborated with the Puerto Rico Department of Education in its 2019 Convention on Professional Development. PRBA secretary, architect Vanessa de Mari participated as a speaker during the event at the Pedro Rosselló Convention Center in San Juan.

On her participation architect de Mari, spoke to teachers in attendance about the challenges of “Rebuilding Puerto Rico- requirements and codes.”   Members of the Puerto Rico Community Development, Corp (HBA), a charitable organization founded by the initiative of the Puerto Rico Builders Association also attended the event in way to registry those students interested in providing assistance, support and resources in the repair, reconstruction or development of damaged, destroyed or substandard residential dwellings as members of the island’s new construction workforce.

PRBA Present in DC

Emilio Colón Zavala, PE, and Pete Aguilar (D-CA).

The Chairman of the Board of the Puerto Rico Builders Association (PRBA), Emilio Colón
Zavala, PE recently participated in the “Institute for Sustainable Development’s Forum on Housing Disaster Recovery”, that took place in the federal capital.

This forum, in which Colón Zavala participated as a guest, had the participation of officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On his participation, the PRBA chairman spoke on the challenges posed to Puerto Ricans by the poor access to affordable housing before and after hurricanes Irma and María. In addition, he had the opportunity to point out how the highly bureaucratic processes of the federal agencies makes even more difficult the island recovery process, and the importance of simplifying the access to federal funds.

On his trip to the federal capital, Colón Zavala met with members of the Congress such as Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Rep. Rubén Gallego (D-AZ) and Rep. Lucille Royal-Allard (D-CA). He also had the opportunity to meet with Resident Commissioner, Rep. Jenniffer González. These meetings were possible thanks to the collaboration of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), who joined Colón Zavala in support of the PRBA’s message on the need to start with the reconstruction projects.

With Lucille Royal-Allard (D-CA).

“Besides informing on the prevailing need to start with the reconstruction projects, we made the congressmen aware of the importance of streamlining processes and reducing bureaucracy in federal agencies. This, among other things, contributes to make even more difficult the access to affordable housing by Puerto Ricans. We also spoke on the need of working on the sluggishness in the process of getting the cost estimates required by FEMA and the proposal for the federal agency to accept and certify the estimates prepared by engineers licensed in Puerto Rico”, stated Colón Zavala.

On the other hand, it is extremely important that as part of the recovery programs, the housing affordability problem, accentuated by the ravages of hurricane María, to be addressed. “Construction cost have increased approximately by 30% since September 2017, this without taking into account the requirements imposed by the Federal Government on their programs. We understand that the impact of this programs will increase even more the cost of housing that proved to be safer in the aftermath of a natural disaster. These increments will adversely affect the access to safe housing”, said the chairman of the PRBA.

Ultimately, according to Colón Zavala, this historic juncture must be used to execute the
structural reforms needed to improve the ease of doing business in Puerto Rico.  We must
execute our vision of placing ourselves among the top jurisdictions in the world in terms of
competitivity and ease of doing business, so that we can attract sustainable economic engines
that can help develop our economy once we run out one recovery funds.”

Emilio Colón Zavala, PE; Jenniffer González; and Dean Mon.

Conversatory: Construction Costs vs. Value


Retired professor of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Dr. José F. Lluch

San Juan- The Puerto Rico Builders Association (PRBA) held a conversatory CONSTRUCTION COSTS VS. VALUE centered in the in depth discussion of the impact of hurricane María over the construction costs and the value of the property.

This conversatory featured the participation of Rafael Rojo, CEO of VRM Companies, who discussed with the attendees the impact on construction costs after the scourge of hurricane María. Retired professor of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Dr. José F. Lluch, spoke about Databases and the challenges they face in Puerto Rico. On the other hand, representatives of the Appraisal Institute contributed on the importance of the professional codes of ethics.

This conversatory concluded with a panel that allowed the interaction of the attendees to discuss the issue of construction costs. The panel had the participation of Carlos Xavier Vélez, member of the Appraisal Institute and one of the appraisals with one of the highest number of certifications in Puerto Rico; Dimas Rodríguez, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association; Silvio López Senior vice-president of Popular Mortgage; architect Vanessa de Mari, developer manager for F&R Construction Group, and Mari Paz Catalá, president of the Puerto Rico Association of Realtors.

“This forum is part of the initiatives of the Puerto Rico Builders Association (PRBA) to provide their members and the general public with relevant information in the island’s reconstruction process”, stated Emilio Colón Zavala, PE, chairman of the PRBA.

The program of this forum allowed three (3) credits of continuing education (Elective in New Trends that Impact Real Estate) to be accredited for brokers and sellers of real estate trough the Puerto Rico Real Estate Institute.

Carlos Xavier Vélez, member of the Appraisal Institute
Panel: Carlos Xavier Vélez; Dimas Rodríguez, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association; Silvio López Senior vice-president of Popular Mortgage; architect Vanessa de Mari, developer manager for F&R Construction Group, and Mari Paz Catalá, president of the Puerto Rico Association of Realtors.

El reto de la reconstrucción en Puerto Rico

Luego de 18 meses del paso por Puerto Rico del huracán María, el debate en torno a las burocracias y las demoras en el comienzo de los proyectos de reconstrucción permanente persiste. Los esfuerzos continúan plasmados en planes, estudios, recomendaciones y foros, mientras la ejecución no comienza. Sin embargo, es importante aclarar que las demás jurisdicciones que sufrieron por los desastres naturales recientes se encuentran en la misma posición.

Una diferencia fundamental con otras jurisdicciones es que Puerto Rico se ha convertido en un balón político en Washington D.C. Como ha quedado evidenciado en noticias recientes, la nueva batalla entre la Casa Blanca y el Congreso se centra en la discusión de asignaciones adicionales. Ahora el nuevo rehén ha sido, una ayuda adicional a los planes de asistencia nutricional de $600 millones por los desastres del 2017.

El presidente Donald Trump ha señalado el envío $91,000 millones para la reconstrucción de la isla y agrega que nadie ha hecho más por los residentes de Puerto Rico. Existe una diferencia entre apropiar fondos federales, asignarlos y obligarlos. Y para complicarnos más la existencia, otra cosa son los desembolsos. Los fondos obligados son los que están listos para ser reembolsados. Esta cantidad, según el portal de transparencia de la Oficina Central de Recuperación, Reconstrucción y Resiliencia es de aproximadamente $8,500 millones, o menos del 10 por ciento asignado. Los desembolsados son aproximadamente $5,300 millones correspondiendo en gran medida al programa de Tu Hogar Renace y las reparaciones al sistema de energía eléctrica. Para construcción permanente, se han obligado $63 millones. Estas cantidades representan un porciento pequeño de lo que hay que ejecutar.

La magnitud del desastre es tal que hay decenas de miles de lugares con daños por ser evaluados y su costo de reparación estimado. Una solución propuesta por algunos alcaldes para trabajar con el problema de la lentitud del proceso de estimados de costos es que se permita que ingenieros licenciados aquí certifiquen estimados de costos y que sean aceptados por la Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencias (FEMA). La Ley Federal es clara cuando permite que ingenieros licenciados puedan certificar estimados de costo y ser validados. Lo único que hay que hacer es cumplir con la Ley. Obligar los fondos urge. Luego de más de un año de estar solicitándose, comenzar la mitigación no puede esperar más.

A estas alturas, muchas personas han recurrido a la autogestión para reconstruir sus viviendas. Esta construcción se está haciendo con los recursos que las personas tienen e implantando las técnicas que conocen. Las personas terminan resolviendo su problema por la vía informal. Esta situación causará que nuestras comunidades más vulnerables no puedan acceder los recursos necesarios para hacer las reparaciones o reconstruir en cumplimiento con los reglamentos. Esto ha ocurrido antes. Es hora de romper el ciclo vicioso.

Tenemos un reto monumental. Ha llegado la hora de exigir un cambio de rumbo en la burocracia excesiva. Es necesario que se busque la manera de optimizar y uniformar procesos cumpliendo con los requisitos de transparencia para lograr vivienda e infraestructura resilientes y seguras. Hay que revertir finalmente los errores del pasado. Manos a la obra.

Por Ing. Emilio Colón Zavala, presidente de la Asociación de Constructores de Puerto Rico

Fuente: El Nuevo Día

Grupo Guayacán and the PRBA Launch Call for Applications for the 3rd Edition of Their Joint Fellowship Program

The Puerto Rico Builders Association (PRBA) and Grupo Guayacán, Inc. (GGI) announced the call for applications for the third annual PRBA-Guayacán Fellowship which will sponsor the participation of up to two PRBA members in the 2019 Guayacán Venture Accelerator (GVA). The GVA is an entrepreneurial education and development program for companies established in Puerto Rico seeking new growth opportunities, such as: increasing local market share, entry to international markets, or development of new products or services.

The program consists of a series of 14 educational workshops offered by a renowned group of academics, professionals, executives, and investors from Puerto Rico, the United States, and Canada. In addition, each participating company will be paired with a mentor to help them implement their expansion plans. Lastly, companies will benefit from a series of coaching sessions where distinguished entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals offer their perspectives and advice.

For the 2018 GVA, the PRBA sponsored AZ Engineering, an electrical engineering firm focused on renewable energy and electrical efficiency, and Conspro a wholesale distributor of specialized concrete construction products. Both companies completed the program successfully and will pay their fellowship forward to a 2019 participant.

Companies interested in the 2019 GVA are invited to an exclusive recruiting event to be held on Thursday, April 11th at 9:00am and featuring a presentation by program instructor Miguel Ferrer Jr. titled: ‘U.S. Hispanic Market 411: Insights for Accelerating Your Business Expansion’. For more information and to RSVP, please contact Natalia Arias (narias@guayacan.org).

Ideal GVA candidates must be in operations for at least three years and demonstrate organizational capacity and commitment to design and implement an aggressive growth plan. The program requires the participation of 3 senior executives per company. The GVA selection process begins with an online application which will be open until May 1st at: http://bit.ly/GVA2019.

From left: Laura Cantero, Executive Director of Grupo Guayacán; Alfredo Martínez- Álvarez, Jr., Juan Carlos Sabat and José Antonio Sabat from Conspro, Gladys Santana and Ángel Perez, chairman of the Board of Grupo Guayacán.