The Best Lifestyle Option In Panama?
The undertaking has been described as “one of the most ambitious urban development projects in Latin America.” That could be an understatement. The vision for Panama Pacifico is massive.
Over the course of four decades, London & Regional Panama, the project’s master developer, will create a mixed-use complex of residences, industrial facilities, and business centers built to state-of-the-art design standards and supported by well-planned infrastructure and all the services and facilities of a full-fledged community…all set amidst the forests of Panama’s Pacific coast. The total investment in the project when all is said and done is projected to be US$4 billion, that to create a fully master-planned city (on 3,500 acres) to complement Panama City back across the Bridge of the Americas.
“Live. Work. Play” is the tag line; however, Panama Pacifico began with work—that is, commercial construction. The developer believed that the success of the project overall depended on establishing a commercial and industrial base that would act as a driver for residential and community growth.
One of the first to take advantage of this new commercial space was Dell. In 2003, the group established a regional call center in the then-fledgling Panama Pacifico. The center has now grown into one of Dell’s largest hubs outside the United States, employing more than 2,500 personnel and handling 360,000 contacts per day from across the United States.
The long-term idea for Panama Pacifico is that everything should exist on-site, reducing the necessity to travel back across the bridge to ever-more-chaotic Panama City. As the website puts it:
“In the midst of tropical forests and picturesque mountains, imagine catching an on-site bus to the office, grabbing lunch at the town center, coaching a ballgame at the sports field, then walking home on a scenic trail. It’s a day in the life at Panama Pacifico.”
Panama Pacifico is expected to create 1,500 semi-permanent construction jobs and to generate millions of dollars in value of goods passing through the community annually. It is an underestimate to say that Panama Pacifico will provide a significant contribution to Panama’s economy. The project will have an estimated value of US$10 billion on completion. That’s approximately half of Panama’s total GNP.
Panama Pacifico’s marketing copy tells you to expect a “different style of life” and that the community offers “the best of life…connected by nature.” None of these descriptions fit life in Panama City, and, indeed, the contrast driving from Panama City to Panama Pacifico is dramatic. As you drive over the Bridge of the Americas from the capital the scene changes in every way. The climate is cooler…fresher, and the landscape is tropically green.
The reasons to consider living in Panama are many and more compelling all the time. The experience of living in Panama City, meantime, is less appealing, in many ways, all the time. Panama Pacifico provides an option.
The project welcomed its first full-time residents at the end of 2011. Now there are restaurants, shops, and other retail amenities alongside private schools and sports facilities including a Power Club at the leisure center with an Olympic-size swimming pool, Astroturf playing fields, and basketball and tennis courts. A community spirit is taking hold. Recently more than 100 children participated in the 3Kids Triathlon, and February saw an open-air concert.
Panama Pacifico is an extraordinary thing in this part of the world—an enormous undertaking that is actually coming to fruition. Doubters and skeptics were many at the start, but this community created from scratch is emerging as perhaps the most pleasant lifestyle option for the retiree, expat, or entrepreneur who wants to take advantage of all that Panama has to offer but doesn’t want to struggle in the face of day-to-day life in Panama City.
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