Proposal to rehabilitate La Fiesta is on the table

A proposal to convert a portion of the abandoned La Fiesta Mall into a medical facility has been submitted to a member of the House of Representatives as well as the Office of the Governor’s earlier this month.

The proposal, submitted by a California-based investor, seeks to turn the section called Fiesta II into a medical facility complete with an urgent care section, ambulatory surgery center, medical spa, fitness center, farmer’s market, and demonstration kitchen.

The proposal is with Rep. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) and the Governor’s Office.

According to information obtained from Deleon Guerrero, Eric Yan, a medical doctor reported to have businesses in the medical field in Los Angeles and San Francisco, has proposed to convert the “dead” mall in response to Deleon Guerrero’s House Local Bill 20-14, which proposes to hold land owners responsible for the maintenance and conversion of blighted properties on Saipan.

According to Yan’s proposal, other sections of La Fiesta—Fiesta I and Fiesta III—could be used for education, retail, dining, entertainment, recreation, tourism, housing, community center, and gardens, among other uses.

In Yan’s proposal to Deleon Guerrero, the rehabilitation of these sections may be done in the secondary phases, according to the needs of the people and government of the CNMI.

Deleon Guerrero supports the intent of the proposal but said the CNMI needs to know more about Yan’s business background.

“We need to know their business profiles,” he said. “We need to [first] make sure that this is legit before the administration could entertain [the proposal].”

Although he declined to comment on the matter directly, press secretary Kevin Bautista told Saipan Tribune that the CNMI’s growing economy has resulted in a “renewed interest by investors regarding the La Fiesta facility and property.”

“In line with the governor’s goal of controlled growth and development, the administration is looking at new proposals in a deliberate and methodical manner. While no formal timetable has been set regarding the restoration of the La Fiesta facility or a turnover of the lease itself, it remains an issue that will be assessed and reassessed in order to achieve the best possible outcome for our local economy and the needs of the people who call these islands home,” he said.

According to Yan’s proposal, the benefits of his proposal includes lower healthcare expenditures; smaller crowds at the hospitals; decreased rate of obesity and diabetes; spaces for other entrepreneurs to develop their businesses; long-term tenancy; lower crime; medical services; employment during site preparation, rehabilitation, and post-rehabilitation; and the maintenance and repair of the La Fiesta Mall.

Yan’s proposal pointed out that “medical complexes are one of the top uses for dead malls and revenue [generation].” No amounts were mentioned in the proposal due to the difficulty to “accurately estimate the level of financing necessary to bring this project into fruition,” citing the lack of “extensive discussions” with the Commonwealth government.

The proposal states that converting the La Fiesta Mall into a medical facility would be “the best use” of the area.

“None of the existing buildings should be demolished nor major construction should commence unless necessary. This use is supplemented with rehabilitation of other buildings according to the needs of the community and government,” Yan said in his proposal.

“We are interested in a lease with an option to purchase and assumption of the yearly payments of $200,000,” he added.

According to Deleon Guerrero, the La Fiesta Mall lease is held by Bridge Capital LLC.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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