Project Aims To Mimic ‘Urban Loft Lifestyle’

February 8, 2008
Details of the mixed-use Avenida Escazú development emerged this week as workers began on the second phase of the 9-hectare project.
To include loft apartments, office space, an IMAX theater, restaurants and a Marriott hotel, the development will be the equivalent of a private Main Street, say its promoters.
“It’s an urban loft lifestyle, which is something new for Costa Rica,” said Andrew Vickers, the CEO of the development company, Portafolio Inmobiliario.
The actual lofts, however, will be the last thing to go in, and the project is still years from completion.
The development takes the form of a single two-lane street that juts perpendicularly off the service road that runs in front of the CIMA Hospital and parallel to the Próspero Fernández highway.
The avenue will have two turnabouts and no street parking, as the development includes 5,000 spaces of underground parking in the plans.
The street will be lined with shiny, modern buildings with reflective windows and angular, concrete facades. The most striking feature of the project, however, is the sidewalks.
Between 6 and 7.5 meters wide, they are made for walking.
The 12 buildings lining the avenue will include 12,000 square meters of office space, 20 restaurants and 150 residences – 88 of them lofts.
Workers right now are focusing on putting up two commercial buildings that will contain retail space at street level and offices above. Also under construction at the moment are two buildings with world-class brands: Marriott and IMAX.
The Residence Inn by Marriott will have a different style than the other Marriotts around the country, including the Courtyard by Marriott that sits practically across the street in Plaza Itskatzú. Its 109 rooms will focus on the long-term guest and, therefore, be mostly laid out in a suite style, including multiple rooms, kitchen areas and large living areas.
The hotel is being developed by Caribe Hospitality, a company that has developed Courtyard by Marriott hotels in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and El Salvador, said development director Daniel Campos.
Campos said the hotel won’t compete with Marriott’s other offerings in Costa Rica, which include the Courtyard, Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San José and Los Sueños Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort.
“The brand is very well segmented,” Campos said.
The other big brand to arrive in Costa Rica with the development is an IMAX movie theater. IMAX (which stands for “Image Maximum”) is known for its enormous screens and theaters.
The theater will have seating for 1,700 and will be only the second of its kind in Central America, the other being in Guatemala City, according to IMAX’s Web site.
While the avenue will be open to traffic, Vickers said, it will remain a private road, “essentially like a condominium.”
Portafolio Inmobiliario is no newcomer to the Escazú development scene. Its projects on that side of town include Plaza Itskatzú and the Courtyard by Marriott, as well as the office park Centro Corporativo El Cedral, which is going up near by.
Vickers said there are, as of yet, no estimates on the total cost of Avenida Escazú.
The phase under construction at the moment – including the hotel and the two office buildings – is set for completion by the end of this year.
Vickers said that construction timelines will be set only for each individual part of the development.
The first part of the development – two towers that are now part of the CIMA hospital complex – was completed late last year.
 
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