Discovering Panama Pacifico
In 2012, when I was exploring Panama as a potential place to live, I toured Panama Pacifico. At the time, I thought of it mostly as a business tax free zone. Since then, it has become an integral part of my life. As an American expat who lives in Casa Bonita, Panama Pacifico is just five minutes away by car, and it's where I do my day-to-day errands--shopping, salons, dog grooming, hardware store, pharmacy and weeknight restaurants.
From Air Force Base to Thriving Community
One of the most captivating aspects of Panama Pacifico is its transformation from a U.S. Air Force base into a vibrant, self-sustained community. Howard Air Force Base, as it was known, played a pivotal role during the 20th century as a strategic military installation.
Howard Air Force Base, named after Lieutenant Melvin Maas Howard, was established in 1941 during World War II. Over the years, it served as a crucial hub for American military operations in the region, especially during the Cold War era. The base was home to fighter squadrons, cargo planes, and provided logistical support for various missions in Latin America.
As the geopolitical landscape changed and the U.S. military presence evolved, Howard Air Force Base became increasingly obsolete. In 1999, the United States handed the base back to Panama as part of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, when control of the Panama Canal was also returned to Panama. The air force base was subsequently closed, and its future began to take shape.
The Birth of Panama Pacifico
The transformation of Howard Air Force Base into Panama Pacifico was a visionary project led by the Panama-Pacifico Special Economic Area Agency (AAEEPP), a government entity established to oversee the development and operation of the new community.
Panama Pacifico aimed to create a thriving, mixed-use urban environment, with a focus on sustainability, commerce, and quality of life. The project has breathed new life into the former air base, and the results are nothing short of astonishing.
Size and Scope of Panama Pacifico
Panama Pacifico is expansive, covering approximately 4,450 acres of land (about seven square miles). Its sheer size allows for a diverse range of residential, commercial, and industrial developments, making it a one-of-a-kind destination in Panama.
The community offers a variety of residential options, from single-family homes to condominiums, catering to diverse budgets and lifestyles. The housing developments are designed with a focus on green spaces, and many properties offer impressive amenities like pools, playgrounds, and recreational areas.
A Thriving Business Hub
Panama Pacifico's development isn't limited to residential areas. It also features a dynamic business district that has rapidly gained attention in the region. The area is a tax-free zone that offers tax advantages to specific sectors as part of its Special Economic Area status. (More on this in tomorrow's blog.)
The development--and the tax advantages--has attracted a diverse array of companies, from multinational corporations to startups. The presence of major players like Dell, Caterpillar, and 3M attests to the success of Panama Pacifico as a business hub.
The business district is meticulously planned, offering state-of-the-art office spaces, warehousing, and logistics facilities.
Unraveling the Green Oasis
What truly sets Panama Pacifico apart is its commitment to sustainability. The developers prioritized green spaces and environmental preservation, creating a harmonious blend of urban living and nature. The project includes a network of parks and recreational areas, a wildlife corridor, and a beautiful linear park that runs through the community.
Panama Pacifico boasts a wide range of amenities that enhance the quality of life for its residents. These include community centers, schools, healthcare facilities, and recreational opportunities.
Ownership and Governance
The governance structure of Panama Pacifico is unique. The project is managed by the Panama-Pacifico Special Economic Area Agency (AAEEPP), a government entity that ensures the development adheres to its original vision. The AAEEPP works in partnership with private sector developers to oversee the growth and maintenance of Panama Pacifico.
The project's mixed-use nature, combining residential, commercial, and industrial components, has attracted a diverse group of investors, both domestic and international. This blend of public and private interests has been instrumental in the success of Panama Pacifico.
Healthcare and Education
Panama Pacifico provides access to high-quality healthcare and education facilities. There is a great medical center within Panama Pacifico. There are also multiple international schools to choose from.
Leisure and Adventure
Panama Pacifico offers a lot of leisure activities. There are restaurants, cafes, salons, vets, for family activities. For sports-minded people, there are ballet and marshal arts studios for kids, yoga and Pilates studios for adults, hiking trails, mixed-use sports stadiums, gyms and more.
Panama Pacifico is more than just a place; it's a way of life. From its fascinating history as a U.S. Air Force base to its transformation into a modern, thriving community, Panama Pacifico represents the best of both worlds. Plus, since it has easy access from Casa Bonita, you can live in paradise with every convenience at your fingertips.