Convention center reborn in deal with two banks

Officials signed an agreement Wednesday night that is a step forward in the construction of a center for conventions and fairs.

The signing took place at the inaugural of Expotur, the tourism marketplace. The Centro Nacional de Convenciones y Ferial is a new twist on the long effort to build a convention center.

The agreement Wednesday is between the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo and the Programa Integral de Mercadeo Agropecuario, which has a facility in an industrial park in Barreal Heredia. The property involved is some 10 hectares or about 25 acres.

Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional will finance construction with a $30 million loan. The center is seen as a location for fairs, reunions, concerts, expositions and other events. The project includes providing drinking water and setting up a sewer system, building a parking lot and providing access.

Expotur, which is a five-day marketplace for tourism providers and buyers, is based at the Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura in San Antonio de Belén. However, many organizations say that location is too small for major events.

The nation’s convention proposal suffered a setback when the government of Taiwan scrapped a $25 million planning project as Costa Rica severed diplomatic relations in favor of the Peoples Republic of China in June 2007.

The government hoped to construct the convention center near the Centro Nacional de Distribución de Alimentos and the Real Cariari Mall. That is west of San José on the Autopista General Canãs between downtown San José and Juan Santamaría airport. The Centro Nacional is an agency of the Programa Integral de Mercadeo Agropecuario.

After Taiwan pulled the plug, officials searched for a private firm to build a center. Although there were some announcements, nothing concrete took place, and then the world economic downturn arrived.

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