Construction in Panama is still moving full speed ahead. Low income housing and infrastructure projects are now in the horizon for players in the development and construction arena in Panama.
The Government of Panama is giving one of its poorest neighborhoods an extreme make-over. Following the plan being used by the Brazilian Government in the favelas (marginal areas in Rio de Janeiro) for urban renewal, Panama is poised to initiate a Pilot Plan for Urban Renewal in the marginal neighborhood called Curundu.
Currently 19,019 people live in Curundu. Current housing in Curundu is made up of reused wood, plywood, zinc and cardboard. In most cases there is no running water. This is the reality in the neighborhood of Curundu, in Panama City, today.
Within two years this reality will be entirely different. The Ministry of Housing in Panama has been extensively studying the project as it was carried out in Brazil. This project encompasses more than the building of houses. It will also build up infrastructure, install drainage systems, water treatment plants, create roads, recreational areas, educational centers and green areas.
This project has been prepared in several stages. The starting point is infrastructure with the paving of 30 thousand square meters of roads, channeling of the river and construction of 1,000 housing units. The plan not only contemplates housing and infrastructure but it is based on a social component as well. The idea is to give the people living in this neighborhood basic facilities, such as schools in good repair, health centers, recreational spaces, libraries plus a social and educational program designed to motivate Curundu dwellers take care of the new residences, infrastructure and facilities. A socioeconomic study is also being carried out to establish a price for residences according to the possibilities of the dwellers.
The project is on its feet already and two companies are bidding on the construction of the first four buildings with 84 apartments at a cost of US1.6 million. Once the first families are living in these buildings the places where they used to reside will be torn down to make room for new buildings. The whole project is estimated to cost approximately US10 million. This is a pilot program which if successful will be extended to other neighborhoods throughout the country.
This project, to be the first step in the government’s attempt at solving the low income housing deficit in Panama. Due to the recent luxury housing boom, the low and mid income sector of the real estate market in Panama has been neglected. President Martinelli’s government is considering different schemes and incentives to make it attractive for building companies and developers to undertake building low income housing in the range of US30,000.00. The Panama real estate boom and construction boom are alive and kicking they have just switched to a different income bracket.
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