We have had a great deal of experience with hospitality developers coming to Costa Rica that struggle with concession plans, as well as the permit process that they need to complete to have a successful project. We have been able to deliver an important amount of square footage on time and on budget for the companies interested in being part of our projects. They trust us; they know that when we commit, we will follow through on our promise. It also has to do with understanding Costa Rica's ecosystem and forecasting the future commercial and professional real estate landscape. For example, we invested first in office space in the area of El Cafetal, specifically in Belen, Heredia. There are now many projects coming to that area, including our work to introduce El Cafetal 2 and El Cafetal 3. We invested a great deal of time identifying what companies would need and did extensive research on how to solve those problems. As companies become more sophisticated, they start to compete for labor, and companies have to be more attractive, with the right amenities and the right environment. We see turnover rates as low as 3% in our developments, where the market rate is 17%. We prefer to take on just a few projects, so we can work on them with our best people.
May. 1, 2019
President & CEO, Garnier & Garnier
Founding Partner, DWL
Our jewel project is Solarium; we developed a hotel, office, retail, and industrial area there. It was in an area that was not that attractive in the past; however, it is now becoming appealing. The Coca-Cola Company has purchased a piece of land, and we expect this to spur the zone, as the government has created significant incentives for industrial development outside the greater metropolitan area. Guanacaste has a few clusters that could be developed extremely well. These include anything to do with aerospace or renewable energies, as Guanacaste has wind, solar, and water efficiency. Tourism also has a huge cluster there. Because of the Coca-Cola announcement, the F&B cluster makes a great deal of sense there. We see an increase in other similar companies. Coca-Cola will generate 140 jobs and build one of the largest and the most modern plants in the world. Automation means the creation of highly skilled jobs that companies will start to bring here. The world of robotics is certainly changing everything, and that is one of the concerns here: Are we preparing future students to be able to handle those jobs when companies come here? The Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE) has been doing a great job here, forming alliances with companies to create programs to prepare students for those jobs.
Costa Rica's real estate sector should take a long-term approach. We see ourselves going into the third cycle of our business, or Portafolio 3.0. The first cycle lasted 10 years and was focused on keeping a low profile and presenting our plans to the market. In the second 10-year cycle, we organized ourselves and wrote our policies, procedures, and politics to prepare for the future. Then, we established what we wanted people to think of us and what the purpose of the company was. That led us to decide we wanted to be a catalyst, transforming Costa Rica into a better country and transforming our cities into places where people feel proud to live. We wanted to design large-scale projects, and our model was Avenida Escazú. That is basically what Portfolio 3.0 is—taking control of the land that will represent the opportunity of transforming our cities in the future and creating the team and structuring the company in a way to do it. We divided the company into two main areas: a development side focused on budget, quality, and alliance creation; and an asset management group that gets involved from the conceptual side all the way through to execution and maintenance of our assets.