Panama Pacifico is a Special Economic Zone and mixed-use real estate development project located across the Bridge of the Americas in Panama City´s former U.S. Air Force Base, Howard, a 15 minute drive from the downtown area in the former Canal Zone. The $705 million project was created to take advantage of the passage of Law 41, a 2004 initiate that established Panama Pacifico as a Special Economic Area.
With Law 41, the Panamanian government seeks to drive direct foreign investment, create better-paying jobs for locals, and attract new-growth industries to Panama. Benefits and incentives to international companies include legal, customs, immigration and labor benefits, exemptions, on site workforce training as well as specific fiscal incentives, meaning there are faster procedures and special treatment to quickly and easily set up shop for international companies in Panama. Dell, 3M, Caterpillar and VF Corporation are among the growing list of 100+ onsite companies already in operation within Panama Pacifico.
London & Regional Panama began the redevelopment project in 2007, highlighting and expanding on Law 41´s intentions. The bulk of the project is to be completed by 2016, forming part of the 40-year total plan that carefully maps out and brings the development to its full potential.
Panama Pacifico already functions as a small city, with a private bus system, airport, restaurants, banks, shops, government offices, medical facilities, sports fields, schools undergoing international accreditation, gym with an Olympic-sized pool, townhomes, condos and more already in place. Additional homes, warehouses, grocery stores, retail shops, 18-hole golf course and more will be added in the next year. According to Panama Pacifico’s homepage, the final project includes:
- 1 million square meters of new commercial space over the life of the project
- $4 billion in total investment
- 20,000 new residences
- 40,000 new permanent jobs
- 1,500 construction jobs
- Millions of dollars in goods moved through the community on an annual basis
A 37-acre Central Park is another focus of the project, integrating the natural surroundings and highlighting the importance of green space. 850 of the 1400 hectares will be developed, leaving the rest of the development for bike trails, hiking paths, large parks and recreational use of the picturesque landscape.
As a former U.S. Air Force Base until 1999, the development has an electrical, water, telecommunication and road infrastructure already in place and continuing to be improved. Natives and long-time residents of Panama, including taxi drivers, might still refer to Panama Pacífico by its former Air Force name, Howard, although this might change in the near-future with the project’s popularity and expansion.