DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Negotiations between the Department of Public Lands and Hyatt Regency Saipan about the hotel’s expiring public land lease has been put on hold for the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Rep. Joel Castro Camacho (R-Saipan), who is vice chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Camacho disclosed this in an interview over the weekend, saying the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Resources Economic Development and Program recently held a joint public hearing to know the status of the lease agreement negotiations.
Among those called to the public hearing were DPL Secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo and some Hyatt representatives.
“I believe they are still in negotiation right now. One of the factors why it’s been put on the back burner for the meantime is because of the pandemic,” he said.
This is on top of the Super Typhoon Yutu disaster that also slowed down the talks. Camacho said a lot of the discussions were put on hold.
“Going forward, we don’t know yet as to what the agreement is going to be,” Camacho said. He hopes that the CNMI economy could soon reopens because, as it is right now, it’s unrealistic to be discussing any lease agreement with this current economic situation.
Camacho supports keeping the Hyatt brand on Saipan. He believes that having the international hotel in the CNMI is beneficial to the economy. At the same time, DPL has a fiduciary duty and responsibility to maximize the land value for all lands in the CNMI, he added.
“So as long as they can come to a consensus, I will support [that]. Yes, I would love to see Hyatt continue [its] lease under the right terms and conditions,” Camacho said.
Hyatt’s 40-year public land lease will expire in December 2021. The land lease of an adjacent hotel, the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, is supposed to expire in June 2021 but it just got a new 40-year lease.
This comes amid the recent enactment of Public Law 20-84, which increases the terms of public land leases of up to 40 years, plus an extension of 15 years, for a total of 55 years. It also authorizes certain public land leases to be amended and extend existing lease terms up to 55 years.
The law gives DPL the authority to negotiate new public land leases to certain existing lessees under new terms and considerations even without publishing a request for proposal.
Under this new law, Hyatt and Fiesta could be allowed to operate up to 2076.