CDA approves Ocean Vista’s qualifying certificate


The Commonwealth Development Authority board of directors approved yesterday the qualifying certificate application of Ocean Vista Resort, with a requirement that it doles out $150,000 in public contributions every year, among others.

The board emerged from an executive session of nearly five hours to begin the vote on the certificate. A similar vote two weeks ago failed to approve or reject the application.

Ocean Vista Resort proposes to build a reported $46-million, 144-room hotel on Capital Hill.

Yesterday, the board voted unanimously on the resort’s application with specific requirements.

One requirement, as described by board member Tom Glenn Quitugua, would be a “cultural historical preservation aspect” to be included in their project.

A second stipulation would be an annual $150,00 public contribution to be directed to CDA for the agency’s sole intent to provide more services to the Commonwealth, he said.

A third stipulation, as recommended by CDA, would be 50 percent abatement of the business gross revenue tax and bar tax, he said.

In addition to this, a benefit cap not to exceed $3.4 million or 10 years regardless of the year of bid, said Quitugua. “Once that amount is met then the cap will prevail,” he said.

The board later voted to memorialize their vote approving the qualifying certificate. This “CDA Board Resolution 2015-002” was voted unanimously. A copy was not made available yesterday.

In an interview after the meeting, CDA board chair Diego Songao said there were “no changes” to the application since they last voted. He clarified that the board was pressured to make a decision because of the expiring term of member Quitugua.

The CDA board was required to act on the application by a deadline of May 2. If there were no action by the board on the package, it would have gone automatically to Gov. Eloy S. Inos for his discretion.

“I felt the board was not given enough time so I resurrected the issue so the board can have enough time to deliberate the issue of the application,” Songao said.

Luckily, he said, Quitugua was reappointed to his spot on the board. The board can have a quorum for 90 days pending his confirmation hearing.

The approval of Ocean Vista Resort’s QC comes amid recent interest by the Inos administration to review the efficacy of the program in stimulating economic activity in the CNMI.

The Investment Incentive Act of 2000, as amended, authorizes the granting of rebates and/or abatements of up to 100 percent for a period of up to 25 years to qualified investors.

One such investor, Lao Lao Bay Golf & Resort, has deployed $42 million in the CNMI per their QC. The CDA board approved a planned suspension of the resort’s certificate nearly two weeks ago after it failed to meet the their minimum annual public benefit contributions requirement of $100,000 for the last five years, among others.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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