THE passage of amended Bill No. 155 at the Legislature yesterday brings the plan to restore the historic Guam Congress Building in Hagåtña closer to fruition.

The structure was built by the United States Navy after World War II and presented to the people of Guam by Rear Adm. Charles A. Pownall on July 21, 1948.

In February 2007, the historic structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Sen. Rory Respicio, the bill’s author, pegged the cost of the building restoration and reconstruction at $7 million – with $3 million coming from a Guam Preservation Trust grant and $4 million from a Bank of Guam loan.

"As an historic building, we qualify to get preservation trust moneys to be allocated to construct that project. We looked at what it would cost to bring the building back to its original state in the late '50s and early '60s and it would cost about $3 million just for that footprint," he said.

The amended version of the bill also incorporates the terms and agreements set between the Legislature and Bank of Guam for the loan that would finance the additional renovations for the historic building.

During session, Respicio said the interest rate negotiated by the Guam Economic Development Authority with Bank of Guam is 1.25 percent over the Wall Street Journal prime rate.

The lending rate of just 4.5 percent, according to GEDA, offers the best interest rate ever offered on a government loan.

Rent

The Legislature, according to the senator, pays $40,000 in rent and utilities per month at the present location.

After more than two decades, he said around $7 million of taxpayers' money has already been utilized to pay for this rent.

He said the Legislature will only be shelling out $25,000 a month based on the terms of the loan.

"Until this very day, we do not own this building. The people of Guam do not own this building," he said.

The reconstruction of the Guam Congress Building, Respicio stressed, is an important component of the revitalization of the island’s capital and will allow most of the Legislature’s functions and offices to return to their original home.

Sens. Tom C. Ada, Tina Mun?a-Barnes, Dennis G. Rodriguez Jr., Aline A. Yamashita, V. Anthony Ada, Brant T. McCreadie, and Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz co-sponsored the bill.

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