AWAY FROM THE FRAY

Panama 2015 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Carlos Malo de Molina, General Manager of Green Valley Panama, on undertaking one of the most ambitious urban development projects in the country.

Carlos Malo de Molina
BIOGRAPHY
Carlos Malo de Molina is a sociologist and economist. He is a majority shareholder of Sigma Dos International, a Market Research company with operations worldwide. Since 2006, he has served as the General Manager of Green Valley, developing a project consisting of more than 24,000 residential units in Panama City.

How would you assess the development of the real estate and construction sector in Panama?

The real estate sector has great potential with plenty of opportunities for investors. The development of this industry goes hand-in-hand with the development of the country. Panama's GDP is currently around $50 billion. In a decade, the country has managed to quadruple its GDP. The state has managed to modernize itself over the last decade, becoming a regional power in all senses. Panama is on its way to becoming a developed country—income per capita currently stands at more than $12,000. Average growth rate is between 5% and 6%. These figures have attracted a huge amount of investment in the real estate and construction sector. There is increased access to the housing market for both Panamanians and foreign investors. Demand in the housing market has grown at a very fast pace in the last ten years and the sector had to catch up to meet this demand.

How does Green Valley symbolize the attractiveness of Panama and the real estate sector for foreign investors with the projects you are currently developing?

Green Valley is a majestic project, and among the largest of its kind in the world. It represents the most promising and innovative urban development in Latin America—almost 200 ha of development that reinvents the Eco-City concept. This kind of project is only viable in a country with the characteristics of Panama; fast development, real estate opportunities and qualitative land available. The location of the project is truly unique—you can see Panama's bay from the mountain. The location is quite privileged too similar to cities such as LA and San Francisco. The nearby Valley compliments the area with fauna and diversity.

What stage of development is the project in?

We started sales activities some two years ago; however, construction works started in January 2014. By the end of 2016, we will enter the second stage and complete up to stage four and by summer of 2017, stage five will also be completed. This means that in less than two years, 70% of the project will be completed. At the moment, we are building parts of the cities, mainly streets.

What is the importance of applying the best international standards to such project?

This project will set the pace for other future developments in the country as well as the region. We see opportunities for developing similar projects in Colombia and Venezuela. Success in Panama will be the cornerstone for future development of the region and for this purpose international standards are a must. One of the advantages of Green Valley is the fact that we developed a small city from scratch, a difficult task in developed countries. We also apply the latest technologies and the best international standards to all our developments in the city. Eco-City has a potential for projects worth $6 billion in total.

What is the potential of Green Valley as a platform to attract foreign investment in the commercial sector?

The city is located in a key strategic area, in Panama Norte with two direct accesses to Corridor Norte. This is something we planned from the very beginning of the development of this city. On top of that, the city will have the capability to host 100,000 people. This means that there are areas for educational, health and industrial/commercial projects. In total, the city has over 500,000 square meters of RM3 land. We believe the city can host 300 skyscrapers.