Contributed by: Don WinnerSomeone recently asked a question about the Red Frog Beach Club in Bocas. Here's a response posted to that question: Posted by "Susan"
I have not heard any "dirt" on the developers of this project and
have no reason to believe that they have done anything wrong.
However, I hope your brother is not even THINKING about buying into anything "sight unseen." That is the height of stupidity. If he is, you should tie up him up and put him in a closet until the deprogrammers arrive.
The development at (not on, it cannot be ON Red Frog Beach, because the beach belongs to the government) is one of those very large, very ambitious, upscale "levittowns in Paradise." I have watched those things start and start and start and ......for 12 years, first in Belize and now in Panama. They never turn out as promised, because those things just don't work on small tropical islands. (And its a good thing that they don't, usually... because the ecosystem cannot sustain huge consumption-oriented communities.)
The primary reason that these developments never turned out as planned is that the kind of people who want to live in Irvine soon find out that the Central American tropics are NOT IRVINE. The doctor and hospital are not down the road, there is no Saks Fifth Avenue, no theatre, no five star restaurants, no golf course, no five star hotels to guest visiting relatives and friends, and none of the other amenities that people who are drawn to "planned communities" are looking for. And there never will be. The business who would run the stores, marinas, medical centers, etc. don't invest because there are not enough people living there to justify the investment and the people don't move in because there are no amenities. And remember that things like yacht clubs and marinas require concessions and right now the government seems to be holding back on granting them, especially for big projects, while at the same time threatening fines on people who build before the concessions are actually awarded. There are two projects on the water in Bocas that have had stop orders issued in the past couple of weeks right now. Large projects like this are prime targets.
The project itself looks lovely. If you don't mind buying into it, knowing that the marinas, restaurants, shops, medical centers, etc. etc. that are promised will never be built, its a nice place to live (or have a vaction home, if you can afford it.) The houses are seriously overpriced and not really built for the tropics, but if that's your kind of thing, fine....And while I have not seen the CCR's I will bet money that they are very very "controlling." Why come all the way to Bocas if you want the homeowners association to run your life? You can do that in Irvine....
One issue that I really don't know enough about to have an opinion of is that there is some controversy about the promximity of some of those big planned projects on Bastimentos to the marine park. It will probaby not ever come to anything but the government has been making noise about "expanding" the marine park for environmental reasons. I don't know if this project is in that immediate area or not. But its something I would want to have a lawyer look into before buying in.>br>
Here's the link to their web site: http://www.redfrogbeachclub.com/
Please note that as far as I know, the pics are mostly "concepts." That means that nothing has been built yet. There ain't no resort, no villas, no marina......
Their concept (to avoid the typical "they buy but don't build" syndrome as in Isla Solarte) is that you must buy the house when you buy the land. In other words, they are using your money to finance their project. An investor should seriously investigate their financing because even with the best of intentions, those kinds of things sometimes go belly up because the developers spend your pre paid money for the basics and there is nothing left to build your dream home. That is not to say that these folks are dishonest or would deliberately do such a thing, but these kinds of leveraged deals often turn out that way. These people may have money up the wazoo but don't assume that is the case.
(Further discussion about the RFBC)
In a message dated 11/24/2004 2:28:10 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
IS is lovely, but.....no water (catchment only) and the developer has his hand in EVERYTHING you do on "your" property. Also may be some ownership issues since most everything on the island is within governement limits of the high tide line. Mostly (if not all?) ROP rather than titled property.
In a message dated 11/24/2004 8:20:48 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
I wouldn't touch Isla Solarte (the planned community not the whole island) with a ten foot pole. There are a multiplicity of lawsuits against the developer for fraud. The CCR's are, according to many unhappy buyers, oppressive and designed primarily to keep the developer's hands in your pockets in perpetuity.
I don't know that much about the Red Frog Beach development. I haven't heard anything negative about the deals or the developers. I am not sure that all the amenities they are talking about (yacht clubs, restaurants, shops, medical centers, etc.) will ever come to fruition, they usually don't on tropical islands, but on the other hand, they are rumored to have unlimited financial resources (which is what it would take to do all that stuff). It's a pretty place, one of the nicest locations in the islands.
But the most important thing for you to decide is whether you want to live in a community where your freedom is drastically curtailed by CCR's. Do you want someone telling you whether you can have pets, what kind and how many, whether you can put up a satellite dish, what color your house has to be, whether you can build a dock or not, etc. etc. etc. Personally, I couldn't tolerate that. If I wanted to live in Irvine, I would live in Irvine. Little Irvines in Panama don't cut it for me. But that's me. Maybe you are different. But if you do, make damnh sure you read the CCR's carefully before you sign on the dotted line. Don't fall for the "we haven't written them yet, but they will just be to protect the environment, so sign here" scam.
In a message dated 11/25/2004 9:05:39 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, email@example.com writes:
let's start with the basics - any contract (like, land sales on solarte and anywhere else in bocas del toro) written in panama for panama property must be in spanish...check it out...
i can't quite believe that the clowns are still operating...i figured they'd go the way of mcmurrain any time...
bocas (and all the charlatanism) is a topic of major concern for the new government...
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 2004 8:42 AM
Subject: [americans_in_panama] Real Estate
Has anyone here looked into the developments Red Frog Club or Isla Solarte? Are they successful?