into one of the world’s largest development projects, strategically located directly across from Panama City, the country’s capital, and overlooking both the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean. The government in 2007 awarded a $750million development deal to British-based London & Regional Properties, whose 40-year master plan will see the 2,750-acre Howard base site - renamed Panama Pacifico - divided into eight zones built around the existing airport. Plans include a logistics and warehousing district, office and commercial space, 25,000 homes and three resort hotels. IBM, Cabo Drilling, MEC Repairs, Dell Panama, The Red Cross, Caterpillar, Singapore Airlines and 3M are among the companies to be included in Panama Pacifico, which has been designated a Special Economic Zone. Companies in the mini-city will benefit from tax incentives and labour benefits, ensuring they can bring in the skilled workers they need. “All of these developments will be supported by a vibrant town centre, alive with restaurants, shops and cafés,” said Ian Livingstone,
managing director with London & Regional Properties. “Howard will provide something that is truly unique and differentiated from Panama City. While the majority of development in the city is high density and high rise, our vision for Howard is of a new city that maximises the lush vegetation on the site with fantastic sea and canal views from parts of the site such as the Southern Hills and Kobbe Hills.” Since gaining control of the canal, Panama has actively pursued foreign investment and adopted policies aimed at liberalising trade, encouraging tourism developments and inviting its Central American neighbours, along with North Americans and Europeans, to move to its shores to invest, work and retire. Observers believe these measures, along with a continued stable government, will help turn Panama into the Hong Kong of the Americas. Many foreign and domestic high rise projects are already under way, with skyscrapers and construction cranes towering over Panama City. “We are unique,” lawyer Ebrahim Asvat told Time. “We are not like other Central American countries.”
Photos by Alfredo Maiquez. All rights reserved Authority of Tourism of Panama.