REAL TALK

Costa Rica 2018 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Roberto Acosta, General Manager of HSOLIS, on its business portfolio, changing needs and solutions, and sources of growth in the future.

Roberto Acosta

What have been your main achievements in your three main business units?

Infrastructure is still our main and biggest unit, with both private and public sector projects. Our public sector projects are some of our biggest, like the airport in Liberia, Moin Port on the Atlantic coast, and five main bridges of Highway 27. Currently, we have contracts that cover the maintenance of over 60% of all paved roads in the country, more than 3,000km in total. In the real estate division, we have several projects, five of which are in the process of commercialization. We are constructing and almost finishing Q-Bo, a project of over 300 residential units. We are currently planning Sabana Capital, which will be the tallest building in the country, a 150m, 40-floor mixed-use building. We have about 25 projects in all in real estate. In the energy division, we have consolidated a 200MW portfolio. Our core business is still infrastructure, accounting for about 70%, with 20% in real estate and 10% in energy.

What trends do you see in the real estate sector and how do find solutions to shifting demands and needs?

In Costa Rica, we are at a point where regulations in municipalities and lifestyles have merged to make it possible to build high-rises. This was not possible 10 years ago. There is, therefore, a back-to-the-city movement, with people wanting to live near where they work, seeking to cut commuting time and avoid traffic. People seek convenience right now, and neighborhoods are changing and gentrifying rapidly to answer these needs—places like Barrio Escalante, which is rapidly gentrifying and becoming the So-Ho of Costa Rica. We believe in a compact, functional, and connected city, and all our projects seek to address these needs, a city where people can live, have fun, and work, all within walking distance. That is what we aim for. Whether it is commercial, retail, residential, or office, we always seek to make a mixed-use project.

Infrastructure is a big issue in Costa Rica. How are you contributing to modernizing the country?

In the private sector we concentrate on the densest areas to be the most efficient. We concentrate less on cars and more on people in urbanized areas. In the public sector, we are one of the only companies that participates in every kind of infrastructure bid the government puts out. We seek projects for the country's interests, offering the best price possible. In the energy sector, we are trying to help create sustainable development and energy practices, to make the price of energy more efficient and more competitive.

What are the most important and urgent needs of Costa Rica?

There are mass transportation projects in the pipeline. The urban train will transport a lot of Costa Ricans in the capital. We have won a contract for the Circunvalación Norte, which is the last ring road around the city, so all the trailers and trucks coming from the port and going through the country from north to south can use this without entering the city. That is a USD200 million project and will be important in terms of directing large trucks and trailers out of the city.

What are the sources of growth for HSOLIS in 2018?

In real estate, we see massive growth with high rises in the Sabana area, specifically with the Sabana Capital project. In the energy division, we are trying to consolidate our projects; therefore, we are not expecting big growth there for the time being. We are waiting for more bids from the government, though we do not see any big bids in 2018. In the infrastructure and construction division, we are expanding throughout the region, especially in neighboring countries. Nicaragua is interesting right now with many large bids in the last few months, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.