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Reports 2006

Dec. 18-23, 2006
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Nov. 27-Dec. 9, 2006
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Oct. 2-7, 2006
Sep. 24-30, 2006
Sep. 16-22, 2006
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Sep. 4-9, 2006
Aug. 28-Sep. 2, 2006
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Feb. 12-18, 2006
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Jan. 23-28, 2006
Jan. 16-21, 2006
Jan. 9-14, 2006
Jan. 2-7, 2006

Reports 2005
Dec. 26-31, 2005
Dec. 18-24, 2005
Dec. 12-17, 2005
Dec. 4-10, 2005
Nov. 28-Dec. 3, 2005
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Nov. 14-19, 2005
Nov. 6-12, 2005
Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 2005
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Oct. 3-8, 2005
Sept. 25-Oct,1, 2005
Sept. 19-24, 2005
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Sept. 5-10, 2005
Aug. 29-Sept. 3, 2005
Aug. 21-27, 2005
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Aug. 8-12, 2005
Aug. 1-6, 2005
Jul. 25-30, 2005
Jul. 18-23, 2005
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Jul. 1-9, 2005
Jun. 26-Jul. 2, 2005
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Jun. 12-19, 2005
Jun. 5-11, 2005
May 29-Jun. 4, 2005
May 22-28, 2005
May 16-21, 2005
May 8-14, 2005
May 1-6, 2005
Apr. 24-30, 2005
Apr. 18-23, 2005
Apr. 11-16, 2005
Apr. 4-10, 2005
Mar. 26-Apr. 3, 2005
Mar. 21-23, 2005
Mar. 14-19, 2005
Mar. 7-12, 2005
Feb. 27-Mar. 5, 2005
Feb. 21-26, 2005
Feb. 13-19, 2005
Feb. 7-12, 2005
Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2005
Jan. 23-29, 2005
Jan. 16-22, 2005
Jan. 10-15, 2005
Jan. 3-5, 2005

Reports 2004
Dec. 25-27, 2004
Dec. 20-25, 2004
Dec. 12-18, 2004
Dec. 6-11, 2004
Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2004
Nov. 22-27, 2004
Nov. 15-21, 2004
Nov. 8-14, 2004
Nov. 1-6, 2004
Oct. 25-30, 2004
Oct. 18-23, 2004
Oct. 11-16, 2004

 

New Construction

Lease / purchase

Phase 3: The construction of the remaining 11 residences.
See what's new: Garden Residences of Río Oro.

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Progress Report

June 4-9, 2007 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #139

Contact phone numbers

Internet Phone:
New York: 315-279-6711
Toronto: 416-907-5758 // 416-461-2203

Costa Rica:
Cell: 506-305-3965
Land: 506-282-4142 Ext. 101

NOTE: the New York and Toronto numbers are "local calls" for people in the area codes; calls from outside the area code will be billed at the normal rate from the caller's area code to either the "315" or the "416" area code.


NOTE: NOW THAT THIS DEVELOPMENT IS ESSENTIALLY FINISHED, THE LOG WILL FOCUS MORE ON THE RIO ORO DEVELOPMENT. IT WILL BE INFORMATIVE TO THOSE PLANNING ON BUILDING, THOSE LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO PURCHASE OR TO LEASE, AND FOR THOSE WONDERING WHAT EXPATS DO IN COSTA RICA AND THE LIFESTYLE OF TWO ORDINARY PEOPLE.

The STORY: Guanacaste: A development nightmare; some travel experiences.

Pictures: none

CONSTRUCTION

Architect: I had a full day working session on Tuesday and we designed the floor plans for the two 6-plex buildings. There are 5 possible solutions, ie. different options. The area--without parking-is around 1900 sf. each. This design builds on the original design for Los Jardines but it the buildings got too big for the spaces available and too expensive for what I wanted to build at the time. I loved the floor plan so have kept it until now when I can apply experience to make minor modifications. We also designed the river lot houses-three versions-two versions as a single family house around 1,600 sf and one version as a horizontal duplex with a one bedroom unit downstairs and a two bedroom unit upstairs.-around 800sf and 1,400sf respectively.

Quebrada: we continue to wait.

Fence Permit: again the application is submitted to the Municipalidad of Santa Ana

Well Application: We wait.

RESIDENCIAS LOS JARDINES

Sales: Unit 118 -there are issues to sort out but it looks like it will close. We'll see what develops.

RE-SALES:

Unit 112$170,000
Single floor, 1,300 sf, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, new Hofurnishings.  The kitchen and both bathrooms have granite counters. The kitchen cabinets are made from natural wood- "cedro" and has a breakfast counter for casual dining.  The kitchen features SS appliances-- 6 burner gas stove, and  GE "Profile" microwave and exhaust space saver unit and all the small appliances and items needed for cooking and dining. The living room features a floor to ceiling full length book case/ display/entertainment center. Areas for a computer work station and TV are incorporated. The LR features one chair, love seat and a sofa as well as 4 wrought iron / granite topped end/coffee tables. There is a 6 seat glass and wood dining room table as well. On the covered terrace is  a 6 seat dining table. The home is equipped with a stacked washer / dryer.  It has vaulted ceilings, valance (direct and indirect lighting). It's located at the back of the property, near the large pool; it is part of a 4 unit complex.

RENTALS:

Unit 107:
Leased for one year effective June 15.
1,725 sf / two story, 2 1/2 bathrooms —master bath with Jacuzzi, two bedrooms (two matrimonial beds in ground floor bedroom and king in master bedroom), large kitchen with granite counters, built in office furniture with granite desk, 3 terraces, detached. Fully furnished. This is a beautiful unit with gorgeous views east and west.
- $1,600 mo.

Unit 112:
Available May 1
See description above. 
- $1,350 mo.

Unit 123:
Available July 1
This 2 story, 2, bedroom,  2 1/2 bathroom, 1,625 sf unit is magnificent.  Perfectly located on the property to overlook the small pool and surrounding garden and from the 2nd. floor terrace you can see the southern mountain range. The owners furnished this tastefully and with good quality furniture.
No children, no pets, and non-smokers only. 
- $1,650 mo.

Unit 124:
Available May 1
2nd. floor, one bedroom (620 sf), fully furnished with display bookshelf/wall unit, home theater system,  42" Plasma TV, computer desk, large kitchen with natural wood cabinets and granite counters and backsplash including valence lighting, Bedroom has a full size (matrimonial) bed as well as a single bed. There is a matrimonial size pull out sofa in the living room. The living room overlooks the large pool and faces west. The bedroom faces east and has views of the mountains.
Non-smokers only.
- $950 mo.

Residencias Los Jardines is a  secure, gated, tranquil community with on-site satellite  and / or CableTica TV, high speed internet,  VOIP phone capability, 2 swimming pools each with waterfalls,  2-bar-b-qs and social areas, extensive manicured gardens, English / Spanish / German / Dutch / French spoken.

OUR LIVES

Weather: some overcast / some sun / not a lot of rain.

Hugo: Still waiting to see if the changed diet results in re-growing his hair-if it does, I might adopt his new diet!!.

Travel Experience

Background: On Friday we made the longest drive north into Quanacaste with the idea of meandering back along the beaches and having a shorter drive back to San Jose on Monday. Our first night was spent at Playa Hermosa, 2nd. at Playa Grande, and 3rd. at Samara. This was certainly the best time to see Guanacaste-it was lush and green. The overcast skies provide some relief from the sun but it was still 85+ degrees with the same humidity; by November it will be brown and dry and HOT until May.

Hotel Playa Hermosa (Bosque del Playa): $50. FANTASTIC! Right on the beach- our room was 30 ft from the sand. TV, hot water shower, TV/AC/fan, dresser bureau with mirror, baggage table, two double beds, The grounds were well maintained, mature trees, lighted pathways, nice pool in a natural setting. Chaise lounges and chairs available on the beach; beach was great for swimming.

Dinner: This was an amazing dinner. Service was prompt and well timed. Lita has a whole red snapper fried with French fries and salad-($9). Her pina colada was the best she had ever had. I was shown the special of the day-prepared plate which I promptly ordered-I was told it was "sirloin" be it was actually two medallions of filet mingion cooked to perfection served on a bed of fresh asparagus perfectly crunchy and topped off with a Madeira sauce. The vegetables was the best assortment I've had and was cooked to perfection. The potatoes were also delicious —$13—.

Playa Grande: Name?????? $60 We were trying to equal our precious night —we didn't. We went to several places at $110-$85 and concluded that either they weren't worth it. We found a place with an overgrown garden, no restaurant. TV, hot water, kitchenette-frig, hot-plate, toaster oven, coffee maker —terrace with table and chairs, swimming pool. It was not on the beach. It was no less acceptable than were the two more expensive units which we passed on.

Samara: we normally stay at the "Guanamar" —a somewhat tired place with a gorgeous view. Last year low season rate was $70 for an ocean view; this year— $100. There was no one there last year when we stayed; there didn't appear to be any more people this year. We passed.

Las Brisas: ($85) right on the beach in Samara: acceptable but virtually NO LIGHT. Only 1 15w florscent in the main room and one smaller in the bathroom. Neither of us could see anything. We passed.

Hotel Belvedere: ($60 with a fantastic breakfast included). Well lighted, large room, king and single bed, kitchenette, TV, hot water (shower), small balcony and table/chairs. This is n ot on the beach but there is a pool; the garden is a bit overgrown to my tastes. Clean and well maintained. Breakfast was on the 2nd. story: fast and consisted of fresh fruit, coffee, and your choice of several N. Am. and Tico style breakfasts.

Note: the government is cutting a major new road south to ?????from Carrillo. We traveled it for about 15 mi. before it basically became a rut-how much further and to where it goes, don't know. I do know from what they have built, that it will be subject to MAJOR slides as they have made huge cuts in the mountains and have not sloped nor shorn up those cuts.

Two side stories

Just one of those times: We only know one person who lives in Granacaste-a large province of CR-he is a native Tico who built our ranchos at Los Jardines. We've maintained our friendship with he and his wife. When passing through Nicoya a nano second's glance by each of us-me driving, he sitting at a bus stop —he yelled his recognition— I was already stopping. A great reunion right there on the street!!

More playmates for Lita: I wanted to buy some distinctive pottery to finish out bare spaces in our house. We stopped at one of the many roadside stands in Quanacaste. In addition to what I was looking for, the two old women had several small pet parrots... yes, we came home with two more —an unexpected and unanticipated treat— and that's often times the way life is here-you never no what's going to happen.

Guanacaste: a development nightmare

Comment: this is not a happy story and there will be readers who don't want to read this but. While I try to tell happy stories or see some humor in whatever event I'm focusing on, I can't in this case. It's hard to separate the "what I saw" from the "assessments I was left with" so what fallows is a mixture of both. (Not all the developments fit the following but unfortunately many, many do.)

As a Developer: Generally, I am left wanting to disassociate myself from "developer" and "builder" - For the most part simply aghast and applaud at what I saw and I really think CR is screwing itself by not having (if they do, it isn't evident to me) an overall master plan which is thought through and followed. It seems to be a case of each developer doing what he wants with no, or virtually no, regulatory controls in place. I find it hard to believe that permits have been issued on many of the developments I saw. Where the water and electricity will come from I'm sure hasn't been addressed. In Tamarindo, one of the major areas, the nearest gas station is 15 min. outside of town. There is no evidence of new civic services or infrastructure in or around any of the small beach towns...they are still beach towns which never did have an infrastructure or a civic administration to speak of. Now they are surrounded and infiltrated with helter- skelter chaos in and around them. For the most part, roads are what they were before construction started-dirt / gravel, pot holed and rutted beyond belief,--many not wide enough for the current, let alone future traffic, Parking????? forget it, it doesn't exist now and won't exist in the future. I saw some really ugly (my opinion) units with air conditioner's hanging off them stuffed in whichever way they can with no harmony, no commonality nothing to make a "community" or "neighborhood".

Some of the developments are quite exclusive and VERY expensive: large homes perched on hillsides shored up by 40', 50' + high retaining walls. The houses themselves are accessed by 30+ degree inclined roads. Gorgeous views but I have to question the soil stability and what happens in 20 years when the galvanized cyclone wire holding the retaining rocks together rusts and gives way-and this concern doesn't even include thoughts about the earthquakes which we have on a regular basis???? How they ever got approval for this-based on our experience and when we've been told that the maximum road incline is 15%--one can only speculate.

As a Builder: Playa Potrero: A three story, 6-plex building with a center common area located on the beach —about 1,000 sf + outside, uncovered parking for 1 car.
This is what you got: A "living room" which was not only very small but the design didn't allow for the placement of furniture. The kitchen was disproportionately large for the size of the unit. It was a long kitchen with sink at one end, frig located at the opposite end —stove in the middle. Lots of counter space with an island about 30" wide with overhanging counter which wouldn't comfortably accommodate two people. The space for the stove was one meter wide; the majority of ranges are 30" leaving 9" for ??? garbage. The small set of upper cabinets were short; no valance lighting. There actually was a 30" wide range hood but the plug in was exposed and off to the side. Neither corner cabinets had a shelf nor a lazy susan to make best use of the space. All of this was lighted by an 18" track light with three 40w incandescent bulbs. The 2nd. bedroom was adequate size; the only window opened onto the inner common corridor providing virtually no light nor ventilation. The closet was small and had no doors —maybe they just forgot to put them on??? There was a small en-suite bathroom. The laundry room had a window from the hallway (what a beautiful thing to look at). It too was disproportionately large. The washer / dryer had to be proud (stick out) of the wall because they had not recessed the water or the dryer exhaust hose. The master bedroom was adequate in size with a small walk-through closet to the master bath. The closet itself had no doors. The master bedroom looked out onto the uncovered parking lot and roadway. Lighting!!! throughout the condo/apartment, there was virtually no lights. Each bathroom had two or three 40w lamps. The LR and each bedroom had a ceiling fan with a 30w lamp in it. The unit was air conditioned. There was no tile design in the floors in any of the rooms. The doors had no trim-only the door jamb. The common pool was not more than 5' from the sliding glass door in the living room and the private terrace had to be accessed through the common element area. For $450,000 + appliances-this could be your nightmare!!!!!

Tamarindo: 7 storey, 35 unit condo. Nicely done. We saw several floor plans which I won't fault. They were tastefully done and generally well thought through except for the following: Instead of using recessed halogen light fixtures which give a crisp, clear light, they used recessed 50w incandescent lights which just don't cut it. The kitchens were way shy on upper cupboard cabinets, no valence lighting, only 10 cm. high granite backsplash with the remaining painted drywall. No provision for space saver microwave/ range exhaust units. The granite counters had no profile on the edges-only 1" rounded corners and the eating counter was only 12" wide —not wide enough for a glass and plate and not enough room for your knees. The bathrooms were ordinary size but tastefully done —no valance lighting above the vanity / mirror and no medicine cabinets. In fact, one of the designs had open spaces for towels and baskets. In all designs, the Jacuzzi was in the corner of the master bedroom. Each bedroom had a closet with wooden sliding doors. The interior partitions were dark melamine. The room doors and entry door were metal knockdowns with simulated wood finish-quite tasteful actually. Two parking spaces —one covered / one outside. A the back of the covered space, there was not more than a 3" clearance on either side; there was not enough space for car doors to open and a person to exit. The turning radius to access the parking space was very substandard and when the opposite side was filled with a car, would be virtually impossible. Storage lockers —sold separately— (size ?) range from $5,800 to $13,500. Depending on the design and view, the price ranged from around $450-$600sf / $4500-$6000 m2.

I spoke with one RE agent while on my travels. He felt there was going to be a big day of reckoning in a couple years and a lot of hurt buyers. Unfortunately, the country will still be saddled with the mistakes which were allowed to happen and the nature of the landscape, loss of community identity and the socio-economic fabric of the area will be forever changed. Foolish purchasers will be chastised and will badmouth CR.

How do I feel about what I saw: "disgusted" comes to mind along with "depressed" because I'm convinced there will be a lot of heartaches and disappointments in the future for a lot of people...

Brian, Lita, Hairless Hugo and irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, and the newbies.

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MASTERPLAN

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Overlay of Version 1 of the master plan. There will be some minor changes to it but for the most part, it is a reasonable starting point. The picture with the yellow dots represents trees.  One swimming pool will likely be eliminated in favor of houses (the large one near the 2nd. pool (bottom left hand corner)  This area will likely become a condominium within a condominium having it's own direct street access.