While multimillion-dollar marina projects in Puerto Viejo and all along the PacificCoast have faced opposition in recent months, one project west of Limón is getting an unusual response: thumbs up.
Developers of Isla Moín, the $500 million, 208-acre marina with approximately 850 residences and space for 500 yachts and mega-yachts (TT, June 15, 2007), could break ground within coming months.
“Our marina, it’s going to be very supportive of the local people in a town that has been forgotten in a long, long time,” said Antonio Facio, regional sales manager for SolerPazos Group in Costa Rica.
Facio estimated the marina could produce 3,000 to 5,000 jobs, either directly or through industries spun off to cater to the incoming luxury crowd.
Moín, a Caribbean port city just west of Limón, has an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent in a canton of 100,000-plus people, according to Limón Mayor Eduardo Barboza. The Limón and Moín ports employ about 1,500 people, he said.
Some people see the project as a necessary economic shot in the arm for the region.
Although he called eventual negative reactions to Isla Moín “almost inevitable,” Barboza said local response to the project so far has been positive.
Beyond an injection of jobs, Isla Moín could also fatten public coffers. Phase 1 of the project is slated at $150 million, 1 percent of which would go toward the municipality in taxes, Barboza explained.
The mayor said the income would be used to develop the province of Limón through improving roads and trash pick-up, among other services.
Danny Morris, port manager at the Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA), also saw Isla Moín as an important source of future jobs.
“The impact (of Isla Moín) is more positive than negative,” he said.
In Morris’ opinion, potential luxury boat traffic through the area would not affect either port. Isla Moín would be about nine miles from that city’s port.
“The location of the marina does not interfere with ship access,” Morris said.
Moín was not José Soler’s first choice for developing his multimillion-dollar marina, Facio said. The Costa Rican civil engineer turned–Florida developer originally was looking to the Pacific coast, but changed his mind after talking to a friend in Miami about the Caribbean coast’s potential.
With 84 percent of yachts traveling in the Atlantic Ocean, Soler saw Moín as an obvious choice for a new marina, Facio said.
“The acceptance has been overwhelming,” Facio said. Most people tell him, “‘Finally, somebody is doing something in the Caribbean.’”
Beyond plentiful space for luxury boats, Isla Moín will feature more than 600 lowrise resort condos, 100 beach and waterfront villas, and 110 waterfront estate homes.
Residences go for a presale price of anywhere from $175,000 to $2 million and, according to the developer, are “selling rapidly.”
Facio said 70 percent of Isla Moín’s Phase 1 residences have been reserved, but he would not give an exact number.
Before the first brick is laid, the marina project must pass a few legal hurdles. The Inter-Institutional Commission on Marinas and Tourist Docks (CIMAT) and the local municipality have to give their approval.
“The analysis process is just beginning,” said Oscar Villalobos, CIMAT’s technical secretary.
The commission, formed of five government institutions, has two months to pour over the SolerPazos Group’s proposal and make another site visit to Moín.
As Barboza put it, the municipality is “the last in line” to see the SolerPazos’ finished proposal.
Once all requirements are met, developers must request a construction permit from the local government.
Meanwhile, the National Technical Secretariat of the Environment and Energy Ministry already granted SolerPazos Group its permits.
To date, no protests are rippling among national environmental groups.
When asked about Isla Moín, a representative from the Costa Rican Federation for Environmental Conservation said he was not familiar with the project and promised to look into it.