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Promoting the restoration of the entrance to Casco Antiguo

Posted by Leydi Chong on May 22, 2024

Written by Anabela Fábrega, General Manager of San Felipe Real Estate Company

The Baluarte de San Felipe Master Plan, a project development plan conceived over 15 years ago by San Felipe Real Estate Company, promises to change the face of an important cultural and tourist sector of Panama City. It consists of a 7 building cluster strategically located at the entrance of the Casco Antiguo, with views of Panama’s Bay, the old city wall, and the historic Baluarte de Barlovento, a critical military point during colonial times.

Various development companies will develop the buildings included in the Baluarte de San Felipe Master Plan, comprising residential and commercial buildings. Among them is the P.H. Plazuela de Alfaro, which will feature apartments and provide access to two exclusive commercial galleries unique in style within the Casco Antiguo.

The Baluarte de San Felipe Master Plan also includes a significant tourism component, such as the BEC (Brand Experience Center) project, a concept found in other cities throughout the world, consisting of museum-like experiential spaces for discovering and engaging with domestic brands.

Architectural and Conceptual Design:

The architectural designs within the Baluarte de San Felipe Master Plan posed a significant challenge for San Felipe Real Estate Company. They involve a diverse array of buildings from different periods, each with distinct heritage classifications.

Architect Daniel Young Torquemada’s involvement as the design architect has been crucial to the project’s success. A restoration specialist, Torquemada, who has earned several awards for rehabilitating buildings in the Casco Antiguo, emphasized the connectivity between historic and contemporary structures and highlighted the importance of the city wall and the Baluarte de Barlovento. These efforts align with both local and international guidelines for restoring buildings in historic centers.

Potential for Tourism Expansion:

The investments in the Baluarte de San Felipe Master Plan will exceed $35 million and encompass 31 commercial spaces, 66 apartments, and 52 parking spots.

Beyond these numbers, this cluster of real estate projects at the Casco Antiguo’s entrance presents a unique opportunity to expand the tourist experience. Visitors will be drawn to its accommodation options, culinary and shopping offerings, and the rich narratives embedded within its colonial structures.

Given the properties’ location along a corridor from the BEC in the Terraplén to Plazuela de Alfaro and onwards to the Casco Antiguo, authorities need to support infrastructure improvements and pedestrian mobility enhancements. This corridor, an underutilized public space, can be activated by effectively utilizing public areas, and aligning with various government administrations’ calls.

Regarding the projects:

Plazuela de Alfaro is a contemporary-style building, featuring a sleek and elegant design intended to highlight the historical buildings in the surroundings and the stretch of the old city wall upon which it is projected. Its location and spectacular views of the bay, Baluarte de Barlovento, and the ancient colonial wall will make it an iconic building in the Casco Antiguo and the city of Panama.

The historic Casa Cordovéz de León is another project within the complex. It holds a second-order heritage status, indicating its significance as an architectural landmark of its time. The house, which has undergone a meticulous restoration process, will be linked to the Plazuela de Alfaro building via charming bridges, offering impressive views of a section of the city wall. The juxtaposition of the old and the modern will be a highlight of the Plazuela-Cordovez development by San Felipe Real Estate Company, comprising 29 apartments and 10 commercial spaces arranged in a stunning gallery alongside the old city wall.

The Callejón del Soná 1 and 2 projects are additional components of the Baluarte de San Felipe Master Plan, undertaken by San Felipe Real Estate Company, and are set to commence operations in a few months. They comprise a gallery of 7 commercial spaces with a spacious internal garden, alongside a building offering 52 parking spaces and an exclusive “rooftop” boasting unparalleled views of the Casco Antiguo and Panama City.

On the contrary, the Bajada de Jaén project boasts the most privileged location within the complex. It comprises 3 expansive commercial spaces, 14 one and two-bedroom apartments, and a rooftop terrace offering panoramic views of the bay and the modern skyscrapers of Panama City.

Casco Development, a European capital firm with a history of successful projects in the Casco Antiguo, will spearhead the Bajada del Ñopo project. Situated on the street known as “Bajada del Ñopo,” it shares its locale with the first Selina Hotel, which has recently gained prominence as a popular hotel brand among digital nomads.

Among the property’s highlights is its generous central courtyard spanning approximately 118 square meters, designed to provide ventilation and natural light to approximately 23 apartments, predominantly one and two-bedroom units. Additionally, it will feature 3 commercial spaces.

Finally, the Brand Experience Center (BEC), currently under construction, will play a crucial role in the tourism strategy outlined by the Baluarte de San Felipe Master Plan, aimed at revitalizing the entrance to the Casco Antiguo. Designed by the esteemed architectural firm Mallol & Mallol Architects, it is poised to be a focal point of the redevelopment endeavor.

This initiative is led by Grupo Colón 2000, a company that dominates 90% of the country’s cruise ship market and contributes to over a quarter of Panama’s tourism sector.

With an annual capacity to accommodate more than 225 cruise ships and attract 500,000 new visitors each year, the addition of the new cruise port in Amador, alongside the existing port of Colon, presents an unparalleled opportunity to promote sustainable growth within the tourism sector.

Given the presence of cruise ships, demand has already been established. Our focus now shifts to developing the necessary infrastructure, content, and entertainment initiatives that will encourage tourists to extend their stay in our country.

The focus on tourism development isn’t the only reason to carefully consider projects like the Baluarte de San Felipe Master Plan. Restoring and enhancing our historic center, recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1997, should inspire pride and involvement among all Panamanians. A project that brings back seven important buildings, a section of the old city wall, and one of its historic bastions is a joint effort. So, we urge you to explore the intricate details of the Baluarte de San Felipe Master Plan and think about the possibility of moving or starting a new business in its remarkable location.

See you in the Casco!

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