THE needs of businesses have changed dramatically over the last decade.
While 20th century offices could make due with just a desk, rolodex and filing cabinet, today’s globalized businesses require greater security, multiple phone lines and fast Internet connections, among other things.
In a much more competitive marketplace – where businesses often must compete against rivals from all over the planet – having the right infrastructure is crucial.
Amenities such as “intelligent” (computer- run) buildings and elevators, as well as classy landscaping to impress potential customers and create a pleasant working climate, can also play a defining role in 21st century business.
These new demands have, during the past five years, revolutionized the way offices complexes are designed, built and marketed in Costa Rica.
TODAY, at least a dozen high-tech luxury office centers are located throughout the Central Valley.
With this much competition, businesses searching for a new home or planning to set up shop in Costa Rica for the first time have plenty of options.
“There are three types of offices – A, B and C,” explained Eliza Rojas, head of marketing at Grupo Roble, the developer of the two Multiplaza Malls and PlazaRobleCorporateCenter.
“Traditionally, Costa Rica has only had B and C-class offices. Businesses now demand more from offices. There are new standards – quality is on the rise. Offices that don’t make the cut will lose appeal,” she said.
The new office complexes offer 24- hour security, hundreds of available phone lines, access to high-speed Internet, fire alarms and sprinklers, as well as property maintenance services.
IN recent years, several new office centers have sprung up in the western suburbs of San José, along the highway to Santa Ana.
Plaza Roble (www.plazaroble.com, 201-9300), situated between Multiplaza Mall and the Real Intercontinental Hotel in Escazú, has earned fame as a luxury complex. It is home to national and international firms such as Microsoft, Citibank and Cemex de Costa Rica. The Costa Rican Investment Board (CINDE) and Mercado de Valores will soon move in.
The project, which consists of four buildings with more than 30,000 square meters of office space and parking for more than 600 vehicles, is nearly 90% occupied.
Available offices range from 200-600 square meters in size and rent for between $20-23 per square meter per month.
Work on the third and final phase of Plaza Roble – two new buildings that will add an additional 25,000 square meters to the project – will begin later in the year.
ANOTHER new office complex, TrilogíaBusinessCenter (288-4701), is located one kilometer west of the toll on the highway to Santa Ana, across from Pricesmart. Trilogía features three buildings, each with 2,100 square meters of office space. It has parking space for 94 vehicles.
What stands out about Trilogía, according to Alejandro Zamora, marketing manager for the project, is its value. Despite offering the same services as larger office centers, Trilogía offices rent for $12.50-13.50 per square meter per month.
“What we’re offering, for the price we’re charging, is extremely attractive,” Zamora said.
He said 80% of the project is already occupied. Three office sizes are available – 100, 140 and 150 square meters – and the spaces can also be combined to meet customers’ specific needs.
FARTHER down the highway, past the crossing to San Antonio de Belén and the JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport, is ForumOffice Park (www.genesiscostarica.com, 204-7010).
Forum offers 84,000 square meters of office space. Developers say that when the project is concluded, it will total 113,000 square meters. Expansion of the office park will continue on 12 hectares of land purchased across the highway, to be named Forum II.
Companies such as Cisco Systems, Procter & Gamble Global Business Services, Bristol Myers Squibb, Unisys, and the National Stock Exchange are among Forum’s tenants.
Within the Forum complex, there are automatic tellers from most major banks, post office boxes and several restaurants.
ANOTHER booming area is Barreal de Heredia, home to some of the country’s largest free zones (see related story), and more recently the new Euro Plaza Diursa (www.diursacr.com, 293-9990).
EuroPlaza offers two office towers with 5,781 square meters of office space and parking for 228 vehicles. Offices range in size from 200 square meters to whole floors. Rent ranges from $15-21 per square meter.
Since Diursa began renting out offices in November, 35% of EuroPlaza has been rented out. Among the companies setting up shop there are Global Pharmaceutical Services, DHL and financial services firm Decyfín.
“While some people say the market for office centers is saturated, the truth is that every day we get new customers,” said Aleyda Bonilla, marketing representative for Diursa.
“There’s still a large market. Competition is healthy. People are looking for quality offices. Only a few office centers meet the needs of serious investors. There’s room for growth.”
Zamora agreed there would always be a market for quality offices. “IT’S important to have a clear idea of what businesses need,” Zamora explained.
“There’s a difference between small Costa Rican firms and large multinational firms. It’s important to have the capacity, infrastructure and services necessary to satisfy the tastes and requirements of all types of companies.”
The success of office centers has also been beneficial for companies dedicated to property maintenance.
“Definitely, there’s been much growth,” said Ingrid Hynes, of property maintenance specialists Grupo L.A.
“Most office centers now call and request offers from us. Before, property maintenance was not a well-known concept.
Property maintenance is now very common and known. I believe we are going to continue growing,” she said.