During the first six months of 2016, one of Costa Rica’s fastest growing counties has been Heredia, and commercial, industrial and residential projects have energized the construction sector. According to the Association of Engineers and Architects, (CFIA), so far during 2016, Heredia has been the county with the highest growth in terms of construction permits.
Heredia’s proximity to the international airport, and its accessibility to the countries major highways that connect both the Atlantic and Pacific shipping ports, have made the decision easy for a many multinational companies to open new facilities and hire employees in Heredia.
Additionally, according to the Human Development Index (HDI) at the Department of Statistics at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), Heredia stands out as the county whose municipalities have the best living conditions in Costa Rica.
The HDI Index is based on data from 2014 and evaluates three basic components: life expectancy, education and standard of living. The municipality of Belén, with a life expectancy rating of 83.9 years, and a secondary school enrollment rate of 90.2% is number one in the county of Heredia with a score of 0.920 and Belén is also the third best nationally in human development. (The average scores in the rankings determine the HDI, with 1 being the highest value.)
During the 1st quarter of 2016, building permits were approved for more than 625,000 square meters of construction in Heredia. According to the CFIA, during the past year there has been a significant increase of activity in Heredia, particularly in Belén.
Furthermore, Heredia has had the advantage of lower costs for land as compared to other developing areas around the San Jose greater metropolitan area, allowing commercial and residential projects to offer attractive amenities at competitive prices. Belén is in the center of most of the new industrial and commercial centers, and 42% of the multinational companies have located inside the local tax free zones in this area.
The multinational companies currently operating in the Zona Franca Metro, Global Park, Euro Center and American Free Zone office parks now employ 58% of the new work force in Costa Rica. Modern office, shopping and residential housing projects support the needs of the workers in this area and this is why developers have increased the construction of new land development projects here.
There are currently eight new real estate projects in the permitting stages, which will greatly increase the amount of commercial and residential properties available for rent and purchase in Heredia.
The Municipality of Heredia reported that there are two new human playground type megaprojects, (combined residential, retail, offices and entertainment): Oxigeno and San Francisco. Additionally there are four new mixed-use complexes: Finca Montealegre Santa Verde, Reina del Cafe and Eco. Meanwhile, in the residential segment, two new residential subdivisions are in the development stages: Las Flores and Bambu. All these new projects have obtained municipal authorizations for storm sewage and land use, in order to begin the site preparations and they are awaiting further studies to apply for the construction permits.
Here in Costa Rica, developers must apply for permits from various governmental agencies, depending on location and scope of the projects. These agencies include; (MOPT, Recope, Incofer, Minae, INVU, Public Services of Heredia). Additionally, they must have the environmental impact studies from the National Environmental Technical Secretariat (SETENA), and then they can apply to the Association of Engineers and Architects (CFIA) for construction plan evaluation and approvals. Following these stages, then the projects must be presented for review at other institutions such as the Ministry of Health, Fire, Water and Sewerage as well as the National Institute of Housing and Urban Development (INVU). Once approvals have been obtained from all of these agencies, each project will need final approval from the Municipality of Heredia for their construction permits, and then they must comply with the municipal building codes and regulations.
The proposal for the Oxigeno project, which is alongside Wallmart in San Francisco, Heredia, includes a $200 million dollar complex being developed and operated by the Cuestamoras Urbanism Company. Oxigeno is the first of its kind in Costa Rica, and will follow the human playground concept, including theme parks, retail, offices and residential housing amenities.
Another megaproject being developed by the real estate development group, Portfolio Imboliario is Finca Montealegre, which combines the conveniences of retail, restaurants, theaters, housing, and a university campus and school. They have planned for 400,000 square meters of residential lots and apartment buildings of five floors each, 23,000 square meters of retail and 137,000 square meters of office buildings. According to a spokesman for the developer, Finca Montealegre will begin in stages over three years at a cost of more than $500 million dollars.
According to the real estate consultant Francisco Navarro, the residential sector will have the highest level of absorption in Heredia, since the area is a magnet for new jobs created by multinational companies moving into the various free zones developed near the countries major highway and international airport, providing residents with the option of living close to their offices, so that they can spend more time with their families and less time commuting to work. The consultant also stated that the commercial absorption will go at a slower pace because new commercial centers always impact the existing developments that the consumers are already accustomed to.
Another major consideration for the Municipality is the impact of these new projects on the existing infrastructure, especially the roads and highways that provide access to the new projects. The Public Works Department of the Municipality of Heredia is looking closely at each projects impact studies to insure that the necessary public works and road improvements are included by each developer to account for all the additional traffic near each new project.
For example, the Cuestamora Urbanism Company reported that it will invest $ 3.9 million dollars to increase the number of lanes on Highway 111 that runs in front of the project and they will build a new four-lane intersection connecting Highway 111 with Route 3. Meanwhile, Portfolio Imboliario has committed to expanded Route 106, which is the national highway the front of the project to four lanes, as well as other improvements such as demarcation, relocating bus stops, optimization times of traffic lights, horizontal and vertical signage and whatever is needed to accommodate the additional traffic created by the project.
More and more people want to purchase housing in this area because it’s convenient to live close to their offices and the conveniences of a variety of new shopping centers that allow them to spend more time with their families and less time commuting to their jobs.
In the immediate areas around the new projects, there are a variety of existing shopping centers, with banks, grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters and kindergartens, that are close to schools and new housing options.
Additionally, throughout Heredia there are a variety of public parks with swimming pools, lakes and picnic grounds so families can get together to enjoy Costa Rica’s tremendous natural beauty.
The province of Heredia is experiencing tremendous growth that is just now beginning to take off.
The writer, Tom Rosenberger has lived and worked in Costa Rica since 1993 and from his travels throughout the country inspecting property and construction he has acquired a wealth of knowledge about living and doing business in Costa Rica.
If you have questions and would like to contact Tom click here.