Monthly Archives:' April 2015

Leasing Public Land in Saipan for Commercial Use

Saipan has become extremely attractive to foreign investors due to its relatively unspoiled natural beauty and its proximity to Asia. A recent surge in tourism from countries like China, Japan, and Korea has created a window of opportunity for businesses like hotels, restaurants, retail shops, car rental agencies, wedding planners, and others.

While there is a lot of opportunity in Saipan, negotiating land-use rights can be extremely confusing, especially for foreign investors. For example, under the NMI Constitution, only people of Northern Marianas Descent may own a long term interest in land. Accordingly, the only way a foreign investor can acquire land for commercial use is to lease it. Depending on whether the land is public or private, however, there are different laws governing such leases. Private land may be leased for up to fifty-five (55) years, while public land may be leased for only twenty-five (25) years, although an investor may exercise an option to extend the lease for an additional fifteen (15) years with approval of the CNMI Legislature. Furthermore, depending on the size of the parcel, businesses may be required to get legislative approval even before the initial twenty-five (25) year period. Within this framework, there are several ways to strategically structure a public land lease to maximize your return on investment.

At Prestley Law, LLC, we can help you navigate the CNMI’s land ownership laws and negotiate the best possible lease for your next business venture. Prior to going into private practice, Peter Prestley spent approximately two (2) years working as the in-house legal counsel for the CNMI Government’s Department of Public Lands (“DPL”) where he gained experience in public land leasing, negotiating and drafting leases for everything from hotels and casinos to fruit farms and storage facilities. With this experience on your side, you will not only be able to negotiate favorable lease terms, but will also be able to streamline the process so that your application and lease do not get delayed due to technical problems and/or inattention.

To begin, we can help you prepare your public land lease proposal with all of the necessary elements such as your business and development plan, a statement of your proposed investment, proof of financing, and a summary of your qualifications, experience and labor requirements. Once your application is complete, we’ll assist you in negotiating terms that help you get off the ground and ensure you are treated fairly throughout the life of the lease. Finally, we can also help you step through the CNMI’s permitting process so that you can open your doors as soon as possible.

Contact us for a free initial consultation.