San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Riverside Condominiums Near Completion

AFTER facing heavy scrutiny bymunicipal officials and neighbors, theRiverside Condominiums project inEscazú, southwest of San José, is scheduledto open within a month in compliancewith legal and safety regulations.Construction on the development’ssecond seven-story tower is slated to beginat the end of February.Described as luxury living, condos inthe first building are nearly entirely soldand sales in the second tower have alreadybegun. The condos are pitched for theirlocation at the heart of Escazú, securityand views, and also boast a pool, 24-hourfitness center, miniature golf course andunderground parking.A wide range of buyers has beenattracted to the condos, including localsand foreigners, single people and families,and part-time and full-time residents, managerJoshua ten Brink said.“I studied marketing and I still can’tfigure out the pattern,” he said.HOWEVER, others are not so thrilledby the project.Since construction began in June 2003,the project has spurred various complaintsfrom residents to the Municipality ofEscazú, said Mayor Marco AntonioSegura.Neighbors worried the appropriatelynamed Riverside Condominiums were perilouslyclose to the Agres River’s edge andviolated Costa Rica’s river-protection law,which prohibits construction within tenmeters of rivers.While the municipality originallyshared the concern and engineers’ measurementsfound the project was too closeto the river, later measurements by theEnvironment and Energy Ministry(MINAE) and Institute for Housing andUrbanization (INVU) – from which developersmust receive permission for construction– determined the project didrespect the 10-meter limit.The law exists to protect buildingsfrom flooding during high waters, municipalengineer Federico Flores told The TicoTimes, adding that the Riverside projecthas been found to be completely safe.“IT was very close. We did the measurementand thought it was lacking somethinglike 20 centimeters, but their measurementssaid no,” Mayor Segura said.“They (MINAE and INVU) have the ultimatedecision.”In the past five years, projects similarin height, or taller, have popped up all overEscazú, also drawing concern from neighborswho say few rules govern developmentin the community.Last month, the Municipal Councilmade the final approval on a long-awaitedregulatory plan to regulate development inEscazú (TT, Jan. 7).However, the plan will not go intoeffect until it is published in the officialgovernment newspaper La Gaceta sometimein February.IN the meantime, the developers ofthe Riverside Condominiums are in theprocess of getting all the constructionpermits for the second tower approvedunder the old, less-strict regulations,Flores said.The tower’s height is taller thanallowed under the new regulations, Floressaid, but because the permitting processhas already been started, developers willhave three months from when the regulatoryplan goes into effect to obtain allrequired permits before the new laws areapplied.The first tower has 28 condos. The secondtower will have 35 one-, two- andthree-bedroom condos and a penthouse.Prices for the 1,100-square-foot, onebedroomcondos start at $145,000; pricesof the 1,400-1,700-square-foot, two-bedroomcondos start at $175,000; and pricesof the 1,900-2,600-square foot, three-bedroomcondos start at $200,000.

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