Uruguay continues attracting investments in Real Estate. The latest –and ambitious– novelty comes from the historic Colonia del Sacramento: on April 29, the Departmental Board of that jurisdiction approved the plan contract (public-private agreement) to develop a project that aims to be an industry-oriented innovation hub global knowledge. To illustrate it, they bet on creating a Silicon Valley in the region, a true “city of the future”.
The urbanization, baptized +Colonia, will be completely open, with public access and will be integrated into the city. It will be built on a 500-hectare plot of land owned by Argentine businessman Carlos Bastitta, who has lived in that country for 15 years.
His son Eduardo, a partner in this initiative, as well as co-founder and CEO of Plaza Logística, developer of six logistics parks in Buenos Aires, remembers how the idea came about: “Since he bought those lands –more than 30 years ago- my father always had the dream of generating a city with a lot of nature, mainly pedestrianized, and where there were only small electric cars (in the style of golf carts) to empower Colonia and its community”.
But, although the current proposal respects this essence, in 2018 Eduardo took the reins and joined other River Plate entrepreneurs (such as the developer Melitón González del Solar and the technological benchmark Francisco Okecki) to give this initiative a new impetus.
From then on, the conceptualization and design of this new pole began, which will see the beginning of the infrastructure works in the next weeks.
The first infrastructure works will begin in the coming weeks
The first units will be delivered in 2024
While, Before the end of the year, the promoters anticipate that the construction of the nine buildings will be able to start of low and medium density, which will make up the first of the districts. These departments will involve -at most- 18 months of work since they would be built with industrialized systems. In this way, the units would be delivered in 2024.
This stage will include US$100 million investment. They will be made between 600 and 800 residential units –the majority from 30 m2 to 50 m2- and there will be 5,000 m2 of Offices and commercial base, with large areas of public spaces and amenities.
Upon consultation of iProfessionalBastitta described: “The project does not only involve development of the Real Estate type, but it is designed for the world of the knowledge economy”.
The idea is that it is not just a workplace but a way of life
Companies, start-ups, venture capital funds, universities and training centers will settle there“with the opportunity to interact with each other and, above all, that they can create their own ecosystems”.
The city of the future: life in communities and sustainability
As explained by the businessman, they seek “a redefinition of what a hub is” in such a way that it is not only a place of offices, but of life, that is, of housing; of work; entertainment, personal development; and training.
“That is why we say that the hub must be made up of four values: live, work, learn and enjoy. This is key. The technology companies that understand this first will have a significant competitive advantage over the rest,” he warned.
This is how the proposal to urbanize with an eye on what millennials ask for Y centennials, given that “as in the world of technology the most important challenge is attracting and retaining young talent who work in these companies, and in Latin America young people often have difficulty obtaining financing and credit, companies have to get involved in housing solutions for its employees and communities, and help them access it,” he recommended.
In this way, “+Colonia is a contribution to this dilemma of the world of technology. Companies will be able to create their districts to attract employees to live in their communities, within the framework of a city of the future, sustainable, with nature and governance”.
In addition, the businessman explained, “this is also key because of the drama that exists in the technological world with respect to having employees and communities scattered (with remote work) the business culture is not incorporated, nor is innovation encouraged. or creativity.
Although the project is aimed at the younger generations, it will be a city for all ages and profiles
However, although young people are the main target audience for this project, Bastitta clarified that it will be “a city for all profiles”.
The price per m2 will be around $2,500
Although the commercialization of the houses has not yet been launched, given that the various construction proposals are in the process of being put out to tender and some official approvals are lacking (permits from the Intendancy and the National Directorate of the Environment), Bastitta estimates that the initial value of the square meter will be $2,500on average.
Furthermore, it adds: “In Uruguay we have the advantage of having mortgage credit, so we are working with several banks to improve and facilitate access to financing. That is also a very important factor so that development can drive demand.”
The promoters of the plan are already in contact with Uruguayan, Argentine and regional real estate developers. Also, with global companies, educational institutions and technology, transportation and other service companies, medical centers, businesses and shops that fit the investment profile they seek to promote. According to estimates, They hope to summon more than 50 companies.
The new hub aims to house some 50 companies and some 30,000 people
Bastitta explained: “This is not a company project. It is very flexible. Real estate developers will be taking over macrolots to build their own buildings, within districts that will not necessarily be controlled by a single company. Also, there may be companies that Take some mega-lots and develop your own districts or appoint an investor or developer to build them for you.”
And he provided more details: “The project is totally open in all areas. Seven banks participate in financial matters. Regarding transportation, there are maritime and air companies. And, on educational issues, we have various companies, universities and digital trainers.”
Developers of Argentine origin, such as Eidico and Argencons, both with extensive experience in the residential market, are already working on the works in the first district. In addition, in urban planning, there is the Gómez Platero international studio.
Meanwhile, these are not the only ones interested. Bastitta confirms that there are several “master developers, each of which was taking the products that were their specialty and sharing them out. They are working collaboratively on defining the master plan, so launch announcements will be made in a coordinated manner.” .
Since the project is in a incipient stagefrom Eidico they limited themselves to confirming that they are interested in being a part, but that they still do not have details to report: “Because of the experience and track record we have in residential developments, the owner of the land invited us to participate in the design of the masterplan from the origin.The role of the company is to contribute in this facet, taking into account that there will be multiple uses: commercial, labor and services, among others”.
The project will involve 10 years of works with an estimated investment of US$1.9 billion
On the other hand, from Argencons they did not offer statements but it transpired that one of the possibilities is to raise buildings with units from 30 to 45 mtwo intended for temporary rental.
In total, the project will involve 10 years of works with an estimated investment of US$1.9 billion. Once finished, there will be 30,000 people living. It is estimated that it will generate 6,000 jobs in the knowledge economy, in addition to another 2,000 in construction and services. In particular, for the first stage that is about to start, the calculation is approximately 600 jobs.
A smart city with a “brain of its own”
The project, located in the eastern part of Colonia and 800 meters from the port, is minutes from cities such as Buenos Aires, Punta del Este and Montevideo. Meanwhile, it includes seven kilometers of natural coastline with white sands, two quarries and a lagoon, as well as forests and nature that will be maintained –according to reports- based on environmentally friendly construction policies.
“In this sense, the city is born from the inspiration of the values of the new generations: freedom, diversity, inclusion and respect for the environment,” they point out. From there they set two axes that run through all planning, which are sustainability and the use of technology to develop a smart city.
“We seek to use developments such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the Internet of things, to provide individual and collective solutions to the inhabitants. The city will have its own braina data center that will learn the habits of citizens, and from them will generate algorithms to make the city more sustainable: for example, will optimize energy use, public lighting or collection service“, exemplified Okecki, executive director at +Cologne.
The private fleet will be reduced to a minimum and walks along green trails will be prioritized
From the point of view of sustainability, +Colonia will have different networks for drinking water and gray water (not drinking water but useful for irrigation and other needs) generating a double positive impact on the use, consumption and purification of water.
Mobility will also be anchored in this value: they are committed to minimizing the private fleet and prioritizing walks on green trails, as well as the use of community bicycles and electric skateboards. However, there will be an urban transport system that will connect the city with the historic center and the port.
In its planning, the city also includes green public spaces, sports circuits, recycling facilities; efficiency in resources and, therefore, also in expenses, among other benefits for your community.
Asked about the reception of this proposal among the residents of Colonia, Bastitta said that “after two years of interaction and permanent constructive dialogue, the feedback is very positive and the support is total. Colonia is a very cosmopolitan city and open to tourism so it will benefit from this development.”