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Friday, August 01 2014 @ 06:29 PM EDT

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Emerging Terrains - Boca Chica Island Development Update

Real EstateBy Tammy Wenhame of Viva Tropical for Panama Guide - I recently posted an interview with Josh Linnes about the 400 acre, private island in Boca Chica Panama that he's developing with Park Wilson of Emerging Terrains.

Read this interview with Park Wilson and learn how they are developing the island:

Boca Chica Island. A project by Josh Linnes

Boca Chica Island. A project by Josh Linnes and Park Wilson

What are your plans for the island? We envision around 15 to 20 owners at the end of the day. Those owners will own between 5 and 50 acres, with the average being around 15 acres.

We are also building the world’s first crowd-funded park (Monte Vida). This is our attempt at learning if we can find the balance between conservation and profit. We're happy to have the park grow as large as the market will bear. We're expecting around 50 acres.

How did you come up with those plans? One of the things that drew us to this particular island was the fact that we could control the whole thing. There are several islands in Boca Chica but very few that were large enough and didn't already have multiple owners. There is even a project out there that claims to be an island, but at low tide is actually connected to another island with dozens of owners.

Island ownership is about exclusivity. I'm not sure what's so exclusive about sharing boundary lines with dozens of different people. Some farmers. Some expats. Some crazy old guys who tried to escape civilization.

So with Boca Chica Island, controlling the whole thing was important. And we actually underestimated just how important that exclusivity is.

We learned this when we tried to replicate our Playa Burica style community on the island. We thought a small development of around 30 lots would have been a nice anchor for the island and provided a base of infrastructure and community for the other 350 acres.

We were wrong. The guy or gal who wants their own private preserve on the island, doesn't want many others around him. They want privacy.

So we've changed our plans accordingly.

We'll be offering around 15 parcels that will range from 5 to 50 acres.

Boca Chica Island. A project by Park Wilson Boca Chica Island.

What's happening on the island now? Well, we're land sellers. Our job is to sell land then help the buyer get going on building their dream, whether that be a vacation villa or a boutique lodge.

The first owner already built a really beautiful villa on 12 acres. That's the Mango Bay Villa.

The next owner is an investor who is building a home on the beach. His idea is to offer a price point for someone who wants to get started in Panama. He's building a 2 bedroom home with a pool that he's offered for $150,000 pre-construction.

The home is small and could serve as a great way to get your toe in the water while building something larger on an adjoining parcel. I also see it as an excellent investment option for someone who wants to buy it for some personal use (there aren't exactly very many $150k homes around today, much less with a pool), as well as rent it to other folks who are planning to build in the area or even on the island. Not to mention the thing has a beautiful, tropical-modern design.

He plans on completing the home by the end of the year.

Then we are in the process of building another dock on the southeastern side of the island. That's no easy feat given the 18' tide change we experience in Panama. The dock should also be completed by the end of the year.

Finally, on the northern point, an investor is building a few bungalows, a pool, and an open-air restaurant area that will serve as a base for himself and other fishermen on the island. He also has some beautiful tropical-modern blueprints.

Tell me more about the Park Monte Vida is the convergence of several concepts. First, we would love for the island (which is loaded with primary rainforest) to remain as pristine as possible. On the other hand, we prefer a place that can be enjoyed. So the first pillar is conservation.

The second piece of the puzzle was a concept that seems to be gaining traction called "social entrepreneurship." It's the idea of a company pursuing innovative solutions to social problems (e.g. deforestation) while finding the balance between a positive return to society with profit. Companies like Patagonia or Nika Water have influenced us in this direction.

Finally, we've looked at crowd-funding (i.e. kickstarter.com) as a source of funding for some of our other projects, so the idea of crowd-funding a Park seems like a great way to empower others to help in a worthy cause.

We envision Monte Vida as being a place where folks can come and experience an ancient rainforest with trails, suspension bridges, and lookout towers. It will be conserved by those who want to help it stay that way.

Some people are intimidated by islands. What do you tell people when they ask about building? We make it simple for our clients to build. From coordinating barge trips, to the use of our project-owned boats, to consulting with their architects, we help with the process. You don't even have to own a boat to build on the island.

We see it as our job to help our customers pursue their dream. We have over 15 years of experience in the region and I have lived in Chiriqui for the last 6. So we use our experience to help others save money and time. And of course we always provide free consultations to make sure every project gets started the right way.

It's not easy to jump into a new country, buy a piece of property, and start construction. Especially for our customers who are usually quite successful and busy. So our role is to help them streamline that process and get where they want to go.

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Almost 30 Percent of Panama City Office Space Empty

Real EstateBy Francys Vallecillo - The vacancy rate in Panama City's office market reached 29.8 percent during the first half of the year, the highest for Latin America.

The city's total stock is 697,000 square meters, with 10,000 square meters added during the first six months, according to a new report from Jones Lang LaSalle. During the first half, 34,000 square meters of office space were absorbed and the firm expects another 137,000 absorbed during the second half.

The unbalanced trend will mostly likely continue for Panama City in the years to come. If all projects are completed in time, the city will have added about 582,000 square meters between 2013 and 2015, almost doubling the current stock, JLL reports. The market conditions have consequently become tenant-favorable, causing stagnant or decreasing rents.

The report highlights a similar trend throughout the region. Latin America added almost one million square meters of new construction during the first half of the year, with 700,000 square meters absorbed, leading to a 30 percent increase in available space from last year.

"Many countries are seeing record investment due to strong macroeconomic fundamentals and an expanding middle class," JLL states. "However, 2013 has been met with slowing growth amidst falling commodity prices, a decelerating China, and stagnant export markets in the U.S. and E.U."

The office market in Monterrey, Mexico, posted a vacancy rate of 18.7 percent, coming in second for the region, despite a decrease from 22 percent last year. There were 20,000 square meters of production during the first half with only 9,000 absorbed, JLL says. Adding to the current supply, there are 250,000 square meters in the pipeline expected to be completed by 2015.

Bucking the trend, the office market in Lima, Peru had a vacancy rate of 2.5 percent during the first half, one of the lowest in the world. There were 78,000 square meters added to the market, with 62,000 square meters absorbed during the first six months.

However, the city's vacancy rate is expected to increase similar to the rest of the region despite reaching record levels of office absorption this year.

"The immense production expected through 2015 should outpace demand and push vacancy rates up in the medium-term," JLL reports.

There are more than six million square meters in planned construction through 2015 for the region. The highest office production correlates with the region's fastest growing economies -- Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Colombia, Peru and Chile. (worldpropertychannel.com)

Editor's Comment: Yup. Builders and developers first saturated the residential market in Panama City by greatly expanding the inventory of apartment spaces. They then turned to alternates, and started building malls, hotels, and new office spaces. As a result, there are now an excess of retail spaces, hotel rooms, and offices available for rent. All of these things should be seen as good news for travelers who want to visit Panama (for example) because hotel operators will have to drop their prices in order to attract business. Retail and office spaces will be cheaper for business operators. And while having any sort of a "glut" is generally a bad thing in the short term, it's usually a good thing from a strategic sense for long-term growth of the overall economy.

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Who Are The Leading Characters In The Juan Hombrón Case?

Real EstateBehind the businesses of lands, estates and property deeds, there is a large number of people linked to the business and other people who are only legal actors, but end up smeared at the end.

The issue on the lands of Juan Hombrón in the Pacific shore, in Cocle, is one of those complex cases in which the high-ranking main characters are placed under the spotlight once again.

As it was published in this newspaper, the case on Juan Hombrón reappears in the national environment, with a Tweet sent by President Ricardo Martinelli in which he apologized, and no one understands why: “regarding speculations that have worn off my patience I want to be clear that I wasn’t, am, or will be a shareholder in Hacienda Sta Monica.”

To understand this case you must first know a little bit about the characters and key assets in this history.

Hacienda (Estate) Santa Mónica

This is the big and exuberant estate part of the inheritance of $50 million from William Lucom, which has gone into a civil war for the lands of Juan Hombrón. These 54 hectares were tried to be taken away by the family of the former minister Demetrio Jimmy Papadimitriu.

Documents from the Public Registry revealed details on its directive board, which is currently formed by Fernando Duque, Samuel Urrutia, Diego Vallarino, Juan Carlos Fábrega and Héctor Infante. Most of these names are well known in a land close to the estate, El Hotel Bristol Buenaventura, owned by the former minister of Economy and Finances, Alberto Vallarino.

Demetrio Jimmy Papadimitriu

He was Martinelli’s Chief of Campaign since 2008. He was the closest man to the president, privilege that helped him occupy the position of Presidency Minister until he abandoned it on July 2012.

La Estrella published a letter in which he was presenting his resignation to the position he was occupying since July 1, 2009. Papadimitriu was considered the “superminister” and the brain behind the campaign that helped Martinelli win the Presidency with 60% of the votes.

Trapp Real Estate Corp

This Company is represented by the couple of lawyers Joavana Robles and Luis Fonseca. Both are part of the original structure of companies that requested the recognition of possessory rights to the former Directorate of Cadastre.

During this phase, the Fonseca lawyers appear as the subscribers of three companies who bought possessory rights in Juan Hombrón.

During the second phase of the history about the 54 hectares of Juan Hombrón, the Fonseca lawyers appeared as the directors, subscribers and resident agents of the company Trapp Real Estate.

Today, and after the quick selling-buying process, Trapp Real Estate owns 18.1 hectares in Juan Hombrón. The Fonseca are also linked to companies such as Homrom Empresas de Inversiones and Laufen Holding Corporation, who bought 6.2 hectares from Juan Hombrón, originally given to José Fernández and José Gutiérrez for free.

In this case, Anabelle Villamonte, former director of Ownership in the National Authority of Administration of Lands, was involved as well.

Anabelle Villamonte

On November 15, 2011, she was called by the Comptroller General to explain her role in the ownership process of 54 hectares in Juan Hombrón. A complaint filed for influence peddling, abuse of authority, false statement and environmental crimes was presented before the Public Prosecutor by residents in Punta Chame against Villamonte.

The former official and other three people are being investigated since December 2012 for crimes against the State, for the same case, at the Second Circuit Prosecutor’s Office. Villamonte was dismissed in January and February during the case opened against her for the irregularities in the approval of a land fill in Paitilla.

Buenaventura

This is a hotel community with an exclusive beach. It is next to Santa Mónica Estate and is bordered by the lands of Juan Hombrón, part of the Group Verdeazul, in which many of the directives of the land are appointed. The name Alberto Vallarino also appears in this list.

Alberto Vallarino

He is an Industrial Engineer with an MBA from the University of Cornell, United States. Since 2011 he is the President of Grupo Verdeazul, S.A., a company with Panamanian capital dedicated to the development and construction of real estate, commercial and hotel projects.

He has been involved in important positions in the banking and touristic sector, and was the Minister of Economy and Finances from 2009 and 2011. He was appointed as a member of the Directive Board of the Panama Canal Authority on February 19, 2013 for nine years. (Estrella)

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Everything Is Set For Capac Expo Habitat 2013

Real EstateCapac Expo Habitat 2013 is set for September 11 at the Atlapa Convention Center, which is the most important construction and housing trade show conducted by the Panamanian Construction Chamber.

For 5 days, visitors can analyze the offers of over 400 companies that will show their products and services, 20% more than the companies from 2012. New real estate projects will also expose their products at this trade show.

As part of the event many business seminars will be conducted for trade exchange between the participant companies, with exhibitors from Spain, Italy, China, Guatemala, Colombia and Argentina, among others.

Also, there will be workshops of “Do it yourself” to teach house wives and husbands to do their own repairs.

As part of the program they have also organized a security camp, in which the visitors will learn how to detect defects in vertical structures.

The show will be open to public starting on September 12 from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday the schedule will be from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The cost is 1 dollar for senior citizens, $2 for the rest of the audience and it will be free for children under 12 years old. Unlike 2012, CAPAC has made different agreements to increase the amount of parking lots. (Critica)

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OPEN HOUSE - 10 August 2013, 10:00 am until 3:00 pm

Real EstateGRANDBAY – Great deal on Avenida Balboa - Price reduced to $239,000.00!

Seller offers $5000.00 for closing costs on full asking price

This great 140m2,1 bedroom condo, 1.5 baths has an open floor plan living and dining areas, all new kitchen appliances, modern light fixtures are all installed in your apartment as well as private laundry area with ample storage, and 1 parking space.

This condo offers spectacular city views, harmonious living space in the heart of Marbella, one of the city’s premier location.

Convenience is at your doorstep, situated on Ave. Balboa near Mulitcentro mall, walking distance to the financial center, the city’s finest dining and entertainment, and across the street from the Cinta Costera.

This well appointed building offers 24 hour doorman, the spectacular social area with pool, gym and indoor lounge overlooks the Panama Bay

Let’s make a deal - the price is right!

Hosted by:

PANAMA CASA REALTY

www.panamacasarealty.com

Office 390-9190

CELL 6070-1830

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Interview with Private Island Developer Josh Linnes

Real EstateFounder of Emerging Terrains, Josh Linnes likes a good challenge. He likes finding the best raw land and transforming it into a success story. And that is exactly what he found at Boca Chica, Panama. Why did he choose Boca Chica? Learn the answers and how the process unfolded in our exclusive interview with Emerging Terrains co-founder, Josh Linnes. (more)
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MEF is Doing A Valuation On Noriega's Properties

Real EstateThe Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) began the process of the appraisal on the properties of former General Manuel Antonio Noriega, which are currently under the custody of the institution.

Frank De Lima, Minister of Economy and Finance, said they are doing an update and review of the different properties previously owned by Noriega, among these, the one in Farallon, in Anton, Cocle, and Altos del Golf in San Francisco.

He recalled these two properties were in a bidding process three times already were deserted, and said the government can sell them at 50% of their value, if someone makes an offer.

De Lima stressed they are free to do this type of negotiation directly, according to the Law on Public Procurement.

Currently, the MEF is updating the planes of the four properties in Farallon, which are very valuable for being in front of the sea, in order to start with the auctions.

Moreover, according to information released few weeks ago by the Comptroller, Gioconda de Bianchini, a team will be traveling to Miami to meet with representatives from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), to learn more about the details of Noriega’s account at this institution. (Panama America)

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Price Of Housing Developments Increased in 33% During The Past Five Years

Real EstateThe price of housing has increased in 33% over the past five years due to the increase in the price of building materials and the amount of land available on in the city.

This situation has limited the construction of affordable housing, up to a $35,000 range.

According to analysts, the real estate sector will continue to be active during 2013, with a greater emphasis on projects within the range qualifying for preferential interest ($40 thousand to $120 thousand). There has also been a surge in the sale of high-priced homes.

Last year, 10,183 residences were sold, representing an increase in 1.3% compared with the previous year.

Gross domestic product (GDP) of construction went up in 2012 to $800 million and it is expected to be around $2 billion for 2013. (Prensa)

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In Panama, Are Foreigner Investors At A Disadvantage?

Real EstateBy Kent Davis - Panama City - I saw the boom for high-end luxury real estate in Panama begin (in earnest) in 2006, when the market was made up of almost entirely foreign buyers from the US, Canada, Venezuela, and Spain.

At the time, most were buying up pre-construction condos in areas like Punta Pacifica, Balboa Avenue, and Costa del Este. Inventory was readily available, easy to find, and was being widely promoted by developers via trade expos, magazines, and online campaigns. This period is now widely known as Panama’s boom period and agents like me were selling properties to everyone and their sister.

But today, accessing the market’s true offering is growing increasingly difficult for foreigners trying to search on their own for high-end real estate. Why?

Because Panamanians have begun to re-establish this place as a very closed and homogenous playing field. As challenging as it is to say, local Panamanians with their inside connections, high-level government contacts, connected attorneys, and local affiliations like church and synagogue groups are at a noticeable advantage in 2013 when it comes to getting access to what is truly on the market.

Many of my clients have commented on Panama’s fragmented real estate listing environment which makes things very difficult for an uninformed buyer to find top properties in upscale locations. Why?

Because these properties rarely make it on the market. Rather, they are being sold through an elite and often times (Read More)

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Vista Mar - Beach House - $2,195,000

Real EstateUpdate:Price Reduced from 2.5 Million to 2.1 Million.

Every morning, the sun’s incredible colors emerge from the ocean offering a unique sunrise to start the day. Walk down your private steps to the beach and enjoy the pristine beauty of the Pacific Ocean. A leisurely five minute walk on the sand brings you to a small fishing village where you can select (fresh from the boat) the catch of the day—lobster, corvina, shrimp, red snapper, tuna—whatever is in season. For an extra dollar or two, the fishermen will clean and prepare the fish for tonight’s BBQ. Walking back to the house you will see kids frolicking in the surf, rock formations appearing with the tide and an incredible assortment of colorful seashells.

After a quick dip in the "salt-water" swimming pool you may want to change into your golf clothes and head to the pro shop to meet friends for a challenging game of golf along the water. This spectacular Par 72, 7273 yard Championship golf course has been designed by award winning architect, J. Michael Poellot.

Before returning home, you might want to make weekend reservations at the Terrazas Del Mar Restaurant where Chef Pascal Finet, will invite you to enjoy his delicious food and panoramic view of the ocean. Monsieur Finet specializes in Mediterranean food and is constantly changing the menu to take advantage of the season’s bounty. Expertly prepared fresh fish dishes along with gourmet continental cuisine will await your pleasure.

Back at the house you notice that the tide is coming in and the surf is picking up. You get your board from the "beach-room" located below the sun deck and head to the beach for a fun afternoon of surfing. Both left and right breaks are 100 yards offshore (in your backyard). Gentle, rolling waves for beginners are close to shore. After surfing you can rinse off in a very private shower located next to the "beach Bohio" then go directly to the Jacuzzi.

Before dinner, you can select your fresh salad from the bamboo greenhouse. This unique greenhouse is complete with a sink, misters, growing tables and offers a wide variety of tasty organic vegetables. Flowers and orchids along with a collection of exotic plants are ready for harvest.

Whether you are preparing dinner for two or twenty two the folding kitchen windows that open to the BBQ patio make cooking a delight. Your guests will enjoy the freshest cuisine possible.

After dinner you may want to take a casual walk to the Serenity Garden where exotic plants and nature blend together to create a peaceful natural setting. As the moon comes up, you can stroll by the club house and on to the beach where you can enter the property through the beach gate. Relax in the master bedroom balcony and see a new "show" every night. The stars in the Milky Way are ready to be counted; distant lightening flashes bring the night horizon to life, while the tranquil sound of the ocean prepares you for a perfect nights sleep.

Located only one hour from Panama City, in one of Panama's most exclusive gated developments, with 24 hour security, this custom Panama beach house has it all. If you're looking for the ultimate in Panama Beach real estate.

Large 24 hour Supermarkets and two new Shopping Malls just 10 minutes from house. Two additional shopping malls under construction.

Numerous restaurants, featuring a variety of cuisines, are less than 10 minutes away. Two restaurants are within walking distance.

The house has 4 bedrooms, 3 of which have balconies with a view of the ocean and 5 bathrooms.

In this property there is a salt water infinity pool with a waterfall next to a bohio.

There are private steps down to the beach where there is also a beach shower to remove the sand and a beach room for equipment like surfboards and more.

The house is also equipped a modern security system, and electric front gate to enter the property.

For more information about this property contact don@panama-guide.com or via cell phone at 6614-0451. See below for images of this property. (more)

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