When people look back at 2018 in Panama, it will be remembered as the year of China. The booming relationship between the two countries dominated the headlines, including new trade and tourism deals, massive infrastructure investments and a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The China relationship will help energize the next era in Panama’s history, providing an exciting new catalyst for the real estate market. At PPR, we have already seen a surge in Chinese clients, both sales and rentals, and we expect the trend to only grow in the years ahead.
As we look back at 2018, there were several other milestones that made it clear Panama was moving into the next stage of maturity. One of the biggest was the end — finally — of the divisiveness and controversies swirling around the Trump Ocean Club. The Trump name was removed from the hotel, management was replaced and the owners rebranded the hotel as a JW Marriott, bringing one of the world’s most prestigious brands to Panama City’s most iconic tower.
For us at PPR, it was a dramatic year of big projects and exciting deals. As Panama City enters the next stage of the investment cycle, new opportunities are emerging in dramatic projects. The market is maturing, with prices stabilizing, rentals growing and strong demand for top properties.
In 2018, we were honored to offer exclusive deals in the Beach Club Residences, the amazing new development going up on Ocean Reef Island, the man-made islands in the Panama Bay. The Beach Club Residences are a good example of a new level of quality emerging in Panama City – an international-level waterfront project with a global-level marina developed by a first-rate developer. The first phase of Ocean Reef was delivered in 2018 and it’s great to see the new community developing.
We are also working with groundbreaking projects in Santa Maria, the gated golf course community, and exciting new development downtown, as more neighborhoods emerge as exciting places for people to live, work and play. In many cases, neighborhoods that have been emerging for years are starting to reach their full potential.
If you’re familiar with this space, you know we talk a lot about Amador Causeway, where we represent the Naos Harbour Island Residences, which offers owners unprecedented views of the Panama Canal. The government is investing millions in Amador and — yes, after long delays — all the work is starting to come to fruition. A new convention center is close to completion and work is moving forward on a cruise ship terminal that will help make Amador a new center for business and tourism.
Around the country, there are signs of transformation. Here are only a few of the big storylines of 2018:
* Work is speeding forward on Panama City’s metro system, the first of its kind in the region. The second line is nearing completion and planning and design work is moving forward on the next segments, including a section that will cross the Panama Canal.
* Contracts were awarded to build a fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, which will radically change the capital’s connection to the west side of the Canal. The bridge will a metro line and provide a direct link to the fast-growing Panama Pacifico development.
* Cobre Panama’s $6 billion copper mining operation continued to ramp up, despite delays and legal issues. Within the next few months, it is expected to provide a $2 billion a year stimulus for Panama’s GDP.
* The government moved forward with a series of sweeping infrastructure projects, including more than $500 million to expand the Highway of Americas. The government also moved forward with planning discussions with China about developing a train route north to David.
* Copa Airlines continued to expand its routes and partner network, making good on its promise to turn Panama City into the “Hub of the Americas.” At the same, work on the Tocumen airport expansion entered its final phase and new logistics facilities were announced, which will help propel trade and tourism in Panama for the next generation.
The list goes on. All these factors have a direct impact on Panama City’s real estate industry, which is one reason 2018 was a very fulfilling year for PPR. We continued to grow and find new opportunities, adding people to our team. I love working with dedicated professionals in this company, who are eager to improve themselves and find new ways serve our clients.
This was a great year for us. And I hope it was a great year for all of you. Here’s to striving to make next year even better.