To invite investors: Increase land lease term to 99 years, says real estate expert

Posted on Feb 09 1999

To make the CNMI as an attractive destination for investors, the government should amend the current land lease term and extend it to 99 years, according to Pacific Rim Properties President Tim Goodwin.

He made this proposal to the study team from the University of Guam recently formed by the Business Development Center of the Northern Marianas who will present the CNMI with an economic plan next month.

His company lost the opportunity of serving a number of investors wanting to put up businesses here because of the land lease term.

“I can’t imagine to buy a house for 55 years,” he said in an interview.

Goodwin also believes that Article 12 which limits public land ownership to the indigenous population further drives investors away. He cited a number of foreign investors who established businesses here but could not settle for good in the CNMI.

Existing local laws which were enacted to protect businesses bring opposite effect to businessmen.

“Like the $100,000 bond deposit makes even a hotel or a nice retail store difficult to start up a business here in the CNMI,” he said. “There’s a lot of bureaucratic red tapes that they have to go through.”

When he was starting his business in the late 1980’s at the time of the economic boom in the CNMI, people were just spending money from left to right since there was no financial management system to assist them.

“The government should put up a program to advise people on how to handle this money,” he said, adding, “at least to get directions.”

When asked by the study group on the feasibility of selling the CNMI as a retirement destination, Goodwin considers retirees from Japan as the possible takers. The CNMI’s distance from the mainland makes it difficult to lure retirees to the region. But a health provider in Japan should be tapped to serve this gray community in the CNMI.

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