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Panama in 2016

Panama in 2016

Panama in 2016 – From Now till Then – What Changes Are Expected?

(This is the first of a series of articles and is an attempt to conceptualize the changes that are happening in Panama in 2012)

August 19th, 2016

6:00 am, my alarm goes off.  As I roll out of bed and look out over Via Argentina and the skyline of El Cangrejo, the city is already alive and buzzing.  Not buzzing with street noise, but with activity and anticipation.  Today is the day that the entire country has been waiting for; the day the Panama Canal opens,  and the world is watching.

Thank God for our new urban garden co-op on the roof of our building, or else I’d have to go down to the mini super and load up on the usual supply of Papaya and Banana for my morning smoothie. Fortunately, Walker dropped off my box yesterday afternoon, meaning my breakfast is once again freshly picked and ready to be consumed!  I’ve got a big day today on all fronts, including four showings along Avenida Balboa, a closing in El Cangrejo, and of course the big inauguration ceremony around noon (will probably catch that one on TV).

From my balcony, I can already see the cars starting to park underground below the basketball courts of the park in the center of El Cangrejo.  “Walk or ride?” is the question I debate as I go over my agenda, trying to sort out how Im going to get from one end of town to another in less than an hour.  I decide to walk the three blocks to meet my client then catch the Metro at the del Carmen station on route to our showings along Avenida Balboa.

Walking along the sidewalks in the city on the way to the Veneto Hotel, I can reflect on how far we’ve come.  The city has moved from a chaotic work-in-progress to an example of money well spent.  I remember just  last year all of the sidewalks were finally repaired in El Cangrejo along with neighboring Bella Vista and El Carmen.  This, the culmination of an urban renewal project starting in 2012 with the burying of the cable and power lines that had dangled like a disaster waiting to happen.  Busted sidewalks and poorly parked cars are a not-so-distant memory of Panama, but thanks to the former mayor and new president Roxana Mendez and her urban revitalization initiative, the walk to Veneto is a straight shot and pain free.

It’s amazing to think how the consciousness has shifted so dramatically in so short of a time.  Panamanians, perhaps influenced by the 10 years of foreign immigration, have now really started to see the benefits of walking short distances, no doubt a result of the new Metro lines traversing the city.

The combination of new multi level parking stations, enforced street side parking, and the reduced volume of cars, along with the fact that people are once again able to quickly (and safely) walk from A to B instead of driving has made getting around this city so, so much easier.  The colored trash cans that have replaced the metal cages are also a breath of fresh air, literally.

“$60.00 per night, are you’re kidding me? Frank definitely got Gringo pricing on his room and Im pissed but not surprised.

“Next time, send me an email ahead of time and I can get you in for under $40.00”

Frank is an investor client from California who came in a week ago on the direct flight from San Francisco, California to Rio Hato and he’s definitely a buyer.  We’ve been trading emails and video chatting for the last 3 months and he’s up to speed on the market to the point where Im pretty sure he’s going to pull the trigger on this trip.  We’ve been watching prices continue to rise and he’s looking to take advantage of the rental market, which seems to be on a bit of a hot streak right now.

Two blocks later, we’re going underground at the Iglesia del Carmen station, accosted by vendors hawking grilled beef and yucca. As we descend, I scan my card twice and we sit on one of the benches and watch the screen.  Proximo Tren en 3 minutos

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