El Caribe Building reinaugurated, boasts new windows

CARIBBEAN BUSINESS
By : JOSE L. CARMONA
Volume: 33 | No: 32
Page : 28
Issued : 08/18/2005

Owner Miramar Real Estate Management celebrates first-phase completion of $3 million remodel work to landmark 17-story professional office building

El Caribe Building, a multistory structure on Palmeras Street in Puerta de Tierra considered an architectural legacy for its landmark exterior mosaic walls, is being reinaugurated Aug. 18 after completion of the first phase of a $3 million remodeling by owner Miramar Real Estate Management Inc. (MREM).

“After one-and-a-half years, we decided we had to celebrate, because this first phase of the building’s remodeling was challenging and involved a very innovative process,” MREM President Carlos López de Azúa told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.

López de Azúa explained the first phase of the building’s remodeling consisted of replacing all of its windows, which had suffered damage as a result of the several tropical storms and hurricanes that hit the island in recent years. The building was built in the mid-1970s. MREM acquired it in 2001 for approximately $5 million.

The remodeling work began in 2002, but because it was difficult to coordinate the work with all the tenants at the same time, the project was delayed for about a year.

López de Azúa said the window-replacement project turned out to be a complex one as it had to be performed without disrupting tenants’ operations or emptying the building. “It involved a lot of work. First, it was necessary to conceive a process in which the windows could be changed without emptying the entire building and, most importantly, without disrupting the daily business of our tenants,” López de Azúa pointed out.

MREM contracted local window manufacturer Valcor Samcor to design the windows as well as the installation system on a computer and tested the installation process beforehand to see how it all worked out, the company president recalled. “They installed a temporary interior wall on each floor so people in their offices could continue working inside, while the crews removed the old windows and repaired and painted the exterior walls from the outside,” said López de Azúa.

The building’s original windows, he said, were very dark and didn’t go all the way to the floor. The new windows are much lighter in color, cover from floor to ceiling, and harmonize with the building’s design and mosaics.

As part of the second phase of the building’s restoration work, the MREM president said they are in the process of restoring the Italian tiles on the two gigantic mosaics, starting from the rooftop. Italian workers already have been hired to do the job, he said.

“We already made changes to the building’s emergency and alarm systems and are in the process of installing a new electrical system as well,” said López de Azúa. “Once the heavy construction is completed, we will replace the elevators and redo the lobby.”

Founded in 1984 by López de Azúa, Miramar Real Estate Management is devoted to the development and rehabilitation of urban residential projects throughout the San Juan metro area, having completed more than 2,000 residential units during the last decade. López de Azúa’s enterprises manage more than 800 residential units and more than 100,000 square feet of commercial space. His enterprises currently have six projects under development and construction. One of them is La Ciudadela, a 513-unit residential project at Stop 23 in Santurce, with more than 2,000 parking spaces and 150,000 square feet of commercial space.