Our latest effort has been the engineering, design, approval and construction of the water plant for the Chontales development. The location for the plant is near the source where artesian well water flows naturally from the ground. Of course this source is deep in mountainous jungle and accessible only on foot. Over the past 5 months, nearly 100 tons of cement and rebar has been hand carried into the site, forms have been built, rebar has been bent and assembled and concrete has been hand mixed and poured to construct a water collection system capable of delivering over 40 liters of water per second. The scale of this system is amazing. Work is now underway for the main holding tank and water distribution manifold. Although much of the system will be gravity fed, there's also a pumping station to lift water high above the development into a second holding tank adding pressure and additional capacity. The main distribution lines are now in place in Tropicos Verde and El Chevierre and work is underway in Suenos Del Tropicos on the distribution system.
Although the southern region of Costa Rica is still a bit remote, the area is alive with natural wonders. Nearly 4% of the world's biodiversity can be found here, an amazing array of plants, vivid birds, animals I've never heard of. Towering trees sway gracefully along mountain ridges dotted with waterfalls among lush jungle. The high demand for eco-tourism is increasing visitors to this area exponentially now that the new highways are completed. This is increasing the need for housing, hotels and vacation rentals.
Developers in Costa Rica face unique challenges. Regulations are daunting and overwhelming. Costa Rica sells eco tourism, in fact tourism is the largest source of income for the country and lawmakers have to insure their natural attractions remain pristine. Real estate developers often have other ideas. History in Costa Rica has proven that unless developers have deep pockets and an experienced team to complete the task, they will likely run out of funding, determination or stamina before completing the job.
Many of you may not be aware that the Chontales development, marketed by Pacific Lots of Costa Rica, is the largest master planned community in the entire country. The project encompasses over 2200 acres with nearly 1400 home sites in 6 development phases. The Chontales project includes both commercial and residential sites including a hotel site and commercial sites. Phases include Radiant Sun Valley, El Chivierre, Suenos Del Tropicos, Tropicos Verde and Vista Sin Fin. A project like this must comply with a stifling myriad of governing regulations.
To build a project of this size is a massive undertaking. Here are some of the steps, there are many more.
- Submit Master Plan to INVU and MINEA - Master Plan approval
- MOPT - Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, road design, construction and highway access permits before developer can start
- Surveying and Mapping - Sites surveyed, marked and platted according to the plan
- National and municipal requirements include approvals from MINEA (the Ministry of Environment and Energy) Environmental protection and conservation
- SETENA (National Environmental Technical Secretariat) Reviews and evaluates environmental impact considerations.
- Municipal Zoning compliance -Land use, zoning, compliance, permitting, taxes
- The National Registry - Legal segregation and registration of properties
- AYA - Water approvals, quality and capacity requirements, setback requirements, renderings, topographic surveys.
- INVA - National Institute of Housing and Urban Planning, creek and river setbacks
- SENARA - Costa Rica's agrarian development institute IDA and national underground water and irrigation service
- ICE, the public utility for electricity, data and communications plans power poles, transformers and street lights, developer installs
- INVU - Final Compliance and Approval for segregation
Complying with these regulations has resulted in the failure of a large number of real estate projects in Costa Rica, through the expense, delays and regulations that must be met. Unfortunately Costa Rica is dotted with failed real estate projects, most with good intentions but lacking the funds and expertise to complete the job. Knowing you are invested with a project that has developed more land in Costa Rica than any other company is comforting. Having a team capable of navigating through all the red tape without the need for bank financing is a necessity. Although the roads are completed, the water and electric for this project require millions of dollars to complete.