Boarded-up doors and windows and air-conditioning units suddenly appearing at the previously abandoned Northern Marianas Housing Corp.’s annex property are not the handiwork of squatters or persons who unlawfully occupy uninhabited buildings or unused land.
NMHC corporate director Jesse Palacios clarified that his agency has rented out the abandoned units at the Lower MIHA Housing on a month-to-month and piecemeal basis instead of letting them rot away unused.
“The law requires that we lease out the property [as a whole but] we have not leased the entire 45 units at the [Lower MIHA] property. The units are being rented out ‘as-is’ on a month-to-month agreement,” he told Saipan Tribune.
One previously abandoned property NMHC recently rented out appears to encompass a whole block in front of the Garapan Elementary School. A car rental company is currently using the land as a parking lot for its fleet of Mustangs, Camaros, and other vehicles.
“The property is being rented out a month-to-month basis. As long as the business activity complies with Zoning [it’s OK],” Palacios said.
NMHC office manager/procurement officer Jacob Muna said that, as Palacios had noted, the agency continues to have plans to lease the Lower MIHA units long term and as a whole.
“Our intention remains to lease all 45 units because that’s the law. Currently we’re on a month-to-month temporary agreement for the abandoned units,” he said.
Muña said the agency currently rented out two of the 45 units as residential units with the rest are rented out as commercial.
“Some businesses are using it temporarily as storage or, I guess, as office space, I’m not really sure. We are also renovating one unit ourselves in anticipation of disaster recovery funds that we’re going to get, so we need additional office space,” Muña added.
He said NMHC doesn’t have a date as to when it will announce a request for proposals for the long-term lease of Lower MIHA.
“Once we RFP it out, we’ll give notices to the occupants to vacate the property. [There is] no date yet on [the] RFP; no definite date,” he said.
Muña said NMHC has been getting a lot of feelers and interests about the abandoned units, but doesn’t want a repeat of what the agency went through in 2018.
“Back in 2018, we received about six interested parties but when we set the deadline for the RFP in June, there were no proposals,” he said.
Last March, Palacios told Saipan Tribune that NMHC decided to sell or lease Lower MIHA as well as its other properties due to the lack of workers needed to maintain and repair the units.
He clarified that the existing units that house NMHC clients at the time will not be put up for sale, just the abandoned structures.
Palacios said NMHC has already put up other properties for sale or lease in Kagman, Dandan, Tinian, and Rota.