Central America 2016: Real Estate and Construction
Costa Rica has emerged in this year’s research as a hub for construction work, with new construction in the country growing by 14 per cent in 2015 as it attracts investors and developers from across the world. Activity was strongest in the commercial and residential housing sectors, with a particular boom in high rise constructions in greater metropolitan areas such as San José, Cartago, and Heredia.
Other countries featured in this chapter include Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Panama, where a focus on infrastructure, hospitality and tourism, coupled with sustained economic growth, has helped to boost their respective real estate and construction sectors. In the Dominican Republic, a thriving tourism industry has paved the way for a growth in the residential property market. In 2014, the number of tourist arrivals into the country reached just over 5.14 million, considerably outperforming previous years. The influx in tourism, along with the development of residential projects such as the $1.5 billion Cap Cana venture are forecast to boost both foreign property investments in the country, as well as the need for expert legal advice.
Nicaragua has also witnessed growth in the sector, with the amount of construction rising by 18 per cent in 2015. Large infrastructure projects have included the planned construction of a $50 billion canal backed by Chinese businesses, with works expected to begin at the end of 2016. The project is set to rival the Panama Canal, which itself is undergoing an immense $5.2 billion expansion.
Central American “powerhouse” Arias & Muñoz leads the research this year, with a strong presence in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Other regional firms listed include Consortium Legal and BLP. All three firms boast strategically placed Costa Rican offices in San José, as well as in tourist hotspots such as Liberia in the Guanacaste region and Los Sueños. Independent firms are also recognised for their expertise in the field, particularly Costa Rica’s Sfera Legal with an impressive three listings.
Arias & Muñoz is represented by three leading individuals in Costa Rica, who cover all aspects of real estate law for both local and international developers. Founding partner Pedro Muñoz is regarded as “a cut above the rest” when it comes to real estate matters. He is one of the most experienced real estate practitioners in the country and regularly represents major developers. Alongside him, the “exceptionally talented” Jose Antonio Muñoz wins praise for his “first-class practice”. The “brilliant” Eduardo Zuñiga runs the firm’s real estate and hospitality practice and is commended for his “strong expertise in all areas of real estate law”, including the due diligence process for the acquisition of greenfield properties, and obtaining and securing construction permits.
Sfera Legal is well known for its real estate development practice and advises clients on the full remit of matters, including structuring of transactions, acquisitions and sales, and due diligence matters. Founding partner Rafael Cañas gains recognition for his “exceptional handling of complex real estate transactions”. He is joined by the “intelligent” Robert van der Putten, who delivers “strategic and practical advice” to clients. Javier Escalante is “well versed in Costa Rican real estate matters” and is admired for his “calm and measured approach”.
Alberto Raven Ramírez is one of two practitioners listed from Zurcher Odio & Raven. He runs a “stellar practice” that encompasses the structuring, negotiation and implementation of real estate transactions. Harry Zurcher is known for his “tremendous understanding and experience of real estate matters” for domestic and international developers.
Consortium Legal is represented by the “brilliant” Rolando Laclé Zúñiga who is recommended for the “tailored and creative solutions” that he offers to clients.
The “accomplished” Luis Castro heads BLP’s real estate practice, and delivers “astute counsel” to clients in relation to everything from small purchase and sale agreements to master-planned project developments.
At Pacheco Coto, managing partner Alejandro Antillon heads the firm’s real estate and hospitality practice. He is “a distinguished player” in the field, and possesses particular expertise in the financing and international tax structures relating to real estate projects in the region.
At Lexincorp, Arnoldo André runs “a strong practice” that deals with the legal management of real estate contracts, registrations and transactions.
According to clients, Roman Medina Diplan at Russin Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti specialises in real estate transactions, as well as all permit matters for the construction of condominiums and other tourist projects. He is said to “always deliver” and is commended for his “quick grasp of complex issues”.
At OMG, the “composed” Juan Alcalde Fernández is “a true specialist” in the field of real estate development and contracts.
At Pellerano & Herrera, Ricardo Pellerano runs “an impressive practice” and is considered “a consummate expert” when it comes to real estate matters relating to the tourism industry.
Central Law Nicaragua is represented by Soraya Montoya Herrera who is recognised for the “insightful and innovative counsel” that she delivers to both local and foreign companies relating to property rights, and purchase and sales agreements.
At Arias & Muñoz, Róger Pérez is well known for his “excellent work” advising clients on touristic projects and real estate and investment structuring.
The “exemplary” Ramón Rodrigo Arias Porros heads the real estate practice at Galindo Arias y López, and wins praise for his “professionalism and high level of client service”.
At Alemán Cordero Galindo & Lee, founding partner Anibal Galindo has “a brilliant reputation” in the field, and advises both international and domestic clients on some of the region’s largest real estate transactions.
María Carolina Arroyo at Arias Fábrega & Fábrega heads the firm’s commercial and real estate practice group. She is known for her “sharp intellect” and has “invaluable experience” dealing with purchase, lease, and construction agreements, as well as legal matters relating to residential projects and condominiums.