San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Shopping Mecca Going up in Tamarindo

Residents of the northern Pacific coast who’d like to buy gourmet groceries, do their banking, rent movies, enjoy a great meal and peruse some fancy boutiques all in one spot are about to get their wish.

The GardenBoutiquePlaza, an outdoor commercial center under construction in the beach town of Tamarindo, promises to deliver all this and more, according to sales manager Juan Ignacio Pignataro.

This unique shopping and dining mecca is being developed by Kapeta Group, the mastermind of the adjacent TamarindoHeights condominiums, and is scheduled to open this July, Pignataro said.

Located between Tamarindo’s airport and downtown, the plaza will be convenient for residents and tourists in Tamarindo as well as nearby towns such as Flamingo, Conchal, Playa Grande and Santa Cruz.

“The area is booming, and we’re coming to fill the needs of a lot of people, both locals and tourists,” he said.

GardenBoutiquePlaza developers are finalizing which businesses will occupy the 29 spots, but those already signed on are Colombian jewelry retailer L.A. Cano – popular at Multiplaza mall in the western San José suburb of Escazú – and Mango Surf and Skate.

The prominent Costa Rican ice cream chain Pops and its sister sandwich shop Entre Pans are among eateries that will be on-site for hungry shoppers, and developers are also inviting some upscale San José restaurants to set up shop in the plaza.

Additionally, a gym with all the works including yoga, pilates and ballet classes, as well as a beauty salon, law firm, optician and men’s apparel store, among other businesses, will have spots in the plaza.

Anchoring this spending oasis will be an 1,800-square-meter AutoMercado supermarket, well known in the San José area for offering hard-to-find items such as foreign brands and high-quality wines and cheeses.

Another special feature in the works is a children’s play area in full view of stores, complete with a slide. A child-care staff will be available so parents can relax and enjoy their shopping or meal kid-free.

GardenBoutiquePlaza’s unique design is sure to draw as much attention as its myriad commercial offerings.

“Pacific-Balinese” is how Pignataro describes the construction.

“It incorporates a lot of water elements that will house live fish, small islands and Japanese-style tents,” he said.

Artist’s renderings provided by the developer illustrate the distinct effect he describes. Straying far from the standard strip mall format that typically accommodates so many businesses in one spot, GardenBoutiquePlaza looks more like an artsy outdoor mall wrapped around a pool of fish and aquatic plants.

Taj Mahal-esque white tents poke up around the perimeter, creating shade and style, and the food court area will have attractive, wooden round tables and chairs rather than the standard plastic setups.

Visitors to GardenBoutiquePlaza can enjoy all this with the peace of mind that security is topnotch, Pignataro said. Guards will be stationed on the premises around the clock, and closed-circuit cameras will be in place to prevent theft or other security incidents.

Additionally, ample parking will make getting in and out easy.

“The idea is that people see it as a family commercial center, where they can come safely,” Pignataro said.

The vibe in Tamarindo is that everyone is very excited about the coming commercial center, according to The Tamarindo News publisher Juanita Hayman. They’re especially happy at the idea of shopping at an Auto-Mercado, which many know and love from trips to San José. Now they won’t have to leave town to stock up on their favorite groceries, she said.

“We have a farmer’s market here, and I think people will still use it, but AutoMercado has a lot of brands from the United States and more selection,” said Hayman, a seven-year Tamarindo resident from the U.S. city of San Diego. “I’m used to small grocery stores where if they don’t have the kind of cereal you want one day, you’re not eating it.”

The new restaurants with outdoor and children’s areas will also be a bonus for parents who want to enjoy a nice dinner while their kids play.

“It’ll be convenient for a lot of the mothers in town,” Hayman said.


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