November 27, 2019

The State of the Union | November 2019


(This message was sent via email to our mailing list today.)

 

Dear Friend of Las Catalinas,

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you stateside, and Happy Holidays to everyone.  This is a very exciting time at Las Catalinas as we switch from green to gold seasons and rev up for the busiest time of the year. 

Recently several people have asked me to talk about our vision for Las Catalinas.  In this State of the Union I will focus on that, and then quickly share some news about new and upcoming things contributing to that vision. 

Our vision for Las Catalinas has been really consistent.  I still enjoy referring back to this “Vision of Las Catalinas” that I wrote back in June of 2006, before we had even purchased the land here.  It is pretty uncanny!  For me it is quite amazing to see it become reality, piece by piece!  Here are some of the most important things about our vision for Las Catalinas.

 

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  • Town – First of all, Las Catalinas is a town. A beautiful, walkable, primarily car-free town.  It is not a “development”, or a “resort”, or a “project”.  It is a town.  Call it any of those other things, and you will make me mad!
  • Purpose – It is hard to say this without sounding a bit overly grandiose, but what we are really trying to do here is to create a better way to live, one that is healthier, more fun, more satisfying, and more sustainable. I will describe what I mean here in the following points.

 

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  • Car-free - Our decision to have most of Las Catalinas be car-free has been profoundly successful, and is crucially important to the quality of the Las Catalinas experience. It is also a great example that I hope will be used and copied all over the world.  There are many benefits of being car-free, including safety, peace and quiet, enabling a more compact urban design, and sociability.  It is a winner!
  • Natural Sociability - The design of the town, where the first part of every trip is on foot through a rich and beautiful public realm of car-free streets and plazas with many tempting destinations nearby, makes pleasant interactions with other people totally easy and natural. It is an antidote to the isolated patterns of living that exist in most places.  Driving on a busy highway, everyone is your enemy, competing with you for scarce resources.  Walking in Las Catalinas, in a beautiful and lively human scaled environment, everyone is your friend.  This does very good things to you!
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  • Kid Freedom - Kids have freedom in Las Catalinas! It is safe, with no cars to worry about, and with loads of fun things to do and places to explore.  The fundamental objective of making things better for kids is front and center in all our decision making.  Nothing makes me happier than seeing kids of all ages enjoying exploring, playing, and socializing on the streets, plazas, beaches, and trails of Las Catalinas.  And nothing makes me prouder than realizing that by now thousands of kids have had some of their first tastes of freedom and independence right here at Las Catalinas. 
  • Surrounded by Nature – Las Catalinas is surrounded by beautiful nature on land and at sea, and this is a central part of the experience. Over 1,000 of our 1,200 acres are a nature preserve, with an extensive trail system.  The ocean in front of us is full of life and beckoning.  I find that being here puts me in touch with the rhythms and pulse of nature.
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  • Peace and Quiet – Las Catalinas is a super fun and sociable place, but it is not a place for loud and raucous late-night parties. It is officially “quiet time” in Las Catalinas after 10:00pm, so that everyone has a right to a good night’s sleep.  We are serious about this.
  • Shared Values – The Las Catalinas Core Values and Beliefs are built around the importance of honesty and respect. They are intended to be a guide not only for the Las Catalinas company, but for the town itself.  As our Master Declaration (the primary governance document of Las Catalinas) says, “shared values can be an asset in building a strong community where residents live and work well together.  Articulating what is important at Las Catalinas is one way to help set a positive tone for community living.”
  • Many Hands – Many wonderful people contribute their special talents, energy, and personality towards making the town an interesting, wonderful place to be. Las Catalinas is fundamentally NOT a “resort” where everything is controlled by one company.  This is really important, and it is one reason why Las Catalinas is and always will be more fun and interesting than any of those “resorts”. 
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  • Importance of Full-Time Residents – Full-time residents are crucial and necessary to making Las Catalinas the great town we want it to be. We are a resort town, it is true, but that just describes the primary basis of our economy.  Resort towns have full-time residents too!  This is one area where my own convictions have really strengthened over time.  Having full-time residents means having a wide range of price points within our town, and options for long-term rental as well as ownership.  This is a big priority for us. 
  • Being Costa Rican – Las Catalinas is quite an international community, but it is also happily and thoroughly Costa Rican. All are welcome here.  One of our core values is to be a positive influence in the country.  We are NOT, and do not want to be, one of those resorts or communities hiding behind a gate and walls. 
  • Not for Everyone – You can’t stand for something if you stand for everything, and Las Catalinas is not for everyone. It is not for people who want an extreme degree of isolation from their neighbors.  It is not for people who want to carouse loudly through the streets late at night.  And it is not for people who don’t have a large measure of agreement with and enthusiasm for the values and vision of the town. 
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The State of the Union in Las Catalinas is strong, we have made a huge amount of progress this year, and have more exciting development on the horizon.  Here are some quick updates:

  • Beach Town – We are in the final stages of completing our first 21 acres which we call Beach Town. Here we have:
    • About 180 residences of various types. (Only 17 remaining to be sold.)
    • Two hotels with 67 rooms. (Santarena and Casa Chameleon)
    • About 10 dining options (7 in place, 3 or 4 more coming)
    • Over a dozen other retailers.
    • Several hundred square meters of office space.
    • The Beach Club.
    • A major health and wellbeing center.
    • Many of the most beautiful streets and plazas anywhere.
    • That is a pretty significant town! In fact, we are now larger than several of the precedent towns that we studied so carefully, like the Cinque Terre towns or Pienza or Eze or Gordes.

We are aiming to have all remaining buildings under construction by May 2020, and finished about a year later. This will be a huge milestone for us. 

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  • The Prado – The next part of Las Catalinas will be The Prado. This is the area just on the other side of Camino Catalinas.  It will contain:
    • More offices, businesses, and places to work at Las Catalinas.
    • A variety of residence options, including housing for people working in those new offices and other full-time residents.
    • A large park with playing fields, tennis courts, a covered basketball/multi-sport court, and an additional neighborhood pool.
    • In the upper areas, a series of spectacular stair streets and homes with fantastic and unique views.

 

Thanks for your interest in Las Catalinas.  I hope to see you here soon!

 

Best Regards,

Charles Brewer
Managing Partner, Las Catalinas

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