As Managua continues to rediscover itself after it lost its center in a devastating 1972 earthquake, the Nicaraguan capital seems to be finding its new urbanity in the form of gated communities.
They come with parking, streetlights, sidewalks, maybe pools and commercial centers – even heliports – and, perhaps most importantly, private security. These often large, urban residential developments are transforming the landscape in Managua and other parts of the country, and are in many ways changing the community lifestyle in Nicaragua.
The communities in Managua are made up of largely middle- or upper-class Nicaraguans and foreigners, according to Marvin Quintanilla, manager of the Managua-based Sinergía construction company (505-255-2465, firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Many Nicaraguans have left the country, and they buy their second homes here and continue living in the United States,” he said.
“Perhaps they have the hope of returning.” Frank Martínez, the marketing manager for Sun Real Estate (505-254-8144,www.sunrealestatenica.com), with offices in Managua, calls them “back from exile” communities.
Many of the higher-end gated community residents may have fled Nicaragua during war and political turmoil in the 1980s, and some are now reinvesting in the country they left behind.
“They used to live outside Nicaragua, where this was standard,” he said, referring to the suburban-style homes.
Some of the projects are reaching gigantic proportions.
Quintanilla is working on a 2,400-home project in Managua called Ciudad San Sebastián, which will include a church, commercial center and bus station.
“It’s the biggest I know of,” he said of the gargantuan project, which is being advertised online as its own walled-in “city.”
It’s just one in an explosion of enclosed communities that are sweeping Managua, while high-end gated community models, such as the lavish, five-condo Portofino resort in the beach town of San Juan del Sur, are also becoming more popular on the Pacific coast.
“Mainly for its privacy and security but also for exclusivity” is why the gated community is the new trend in Managua, said Carlos Amador, president of Discover Nica real estate agency (505-270-4000, www.discovernica.com).
Amador’s company has a 23-manzana (approximately 16-hectare) development called Monte Carlo, which will include a water well, 24-hour security, a perimeter wall, green areas for entertainment, electricity and even a heliport.
“At this moment, out of the four lots sold, three of the owners either have their own helicopter or always use one. In addition, I ride helicopters often to visit properties throughout Nicaragua. So it is for the homeowners in the development,”Amador said in an e-mail response.
Martínez said that this trend has thus far been focused on buyers with high buying power, but that is beginning to change. Gated communities are beginning to cater to middle- and even low-income populations in Nicaragua.
The communities, which Martínez called a “city within a city” concept, are also beginning to bring back green areas to Managua, if in an exclusive way, as many of them feature parks and playgrounds for children.