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Oka Point property could attract regional investment

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's property many may know as the former site of the old Guam Memorial Hospital and, starting next month, over one hundred key players within Asia Pacific's hotel investment community may soon discover a prime piece of property that's been sitting idle for years.

It was late last year when the Guam Economic Development Authority together with the Chamorro Land Trust Commission revived plans to develop the over 40 acres of property in Tamuning sometimes referred to as Ypao or Oka Point. CLTC chairman Mike Borja says more development has recently taken place, noting, "So they have come to us in our last meeting to do a determination of need which is a requirement for a new statute that requires only a five-year agreement on any kind of lease."

Through a memorandum of understanding, GEDA is authorized to lease out and manage some of the commercial properties for CLTC including Oka Point. Borja says a determination of need would demonstrate the need to have an exception in the law, all of which he says is a positive sign of finally moving matters forward. "We've asked for a 50-year term plus a 49-year extension on that basically almost a 99-year lease and for any kind of property this size, a commercial development is going to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, of course five years is not a viable option for anyone to do a commercial lease on," he said.

The development has dated back about a decade with several proposals proffered including a botanical garden, an amusement park, a cultural center and a hotel. In fact, a Chinese company once intended to build a seven star hotel at Oka Point but that eventually fell through after various controversies. But an idea of a hotel may not be entirely out of the question. "And so GEDA is going to now take this land and try and find somebody who may want to develop it and there's an upcoming event in Hong Kong that they're going to be attending shortly," he said.

That event is the Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific 2013 set for three days starting on October 16. The event will feature over 110 speakers from 15 countries attracting the most influential owners, developers, lenders, executives, and professional advisors from around the globe. GEDA along with the Guam Visitors Bureau and the Guam International Airport Authority are expected to attend. "This is not to get tourists, this is to get people to invest in hotel on Guam and of course this large of a property is a great investment," he said.

And just as both agencies mentioned last year, the property is shovel ready and is a zoned R-2 multi-family dwelling suitable for a hotel. Borja adds with the shortage of hotel rooms, the possibility of building a hotel on Oka Point is promising and just needs the right investors. 

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