Though the stately colonial homes of Granada have had the city to themselves for the past five centuries, they will soon welcome a new neighbor.
The nine-unit Condominiums Xalteva, scheduled for completion this month, are the first high-density residences to be constructed in the center of this historic city.
Their opening signals a new chapter for Granada, which in the past several years has grown to be one of the tourism and expatriate hubs of Nicaragua. That growth has pulled real estate prices higher, putting historic colonial properties – often in need of extensive renovation – out of reach for many in the second homes and retirement market.
Vermont-native Jay Snyder, the developer of Condominiums Xalteva, sees himself as filling that niche.
“Retiring in the (United) States is a tough thing financially these days,” Snyder says. “People are finding that they have to sell their first home, that they are unable to find the quality of life that they are used to.” Keeping costs down, without comprising quality, was an important project goal. “We tried to keep the prices under $200,000,” Snyder says. “We wanted to keep this kind of security affordable.”
All the same, he does admit that he is catering to a luxury market.
“We focused on creature comforts,” says Snyder, who is planning on holding onto one of the units for himself and his wife. “We thought about what we would want, what comforts we required.”
All of the two-bedroom units are air-conditioned and the complex boasts a pool and a secure parking lot.
Cost and comfort aside, the new condominiums may serve as a model for the way in which a ground-up addition can blend in with an existing historic neighborhood, an especially important issue in the rapidly growing city.
Even ardent preservationists will have difficulty complaining though, as distinguishing the new condo from its neighbors is surprisingly difficult from the street. Despite its size, the building is hardly noticeable from the sidewalk and it is easy to miss altogether.
“The condominium concept is new to Granada, and that’s a challenge,” Snyder says.
“But it was very important to us, to carry on the colonial heritage. We strived to carry over the details of colonial design. Little things that make a difference.”
Project manager Neal Beauregard agrees. “We wanted to capture the magic, the curiosity that a colonial residence inspires.
Those great wooden doors, they make you wonder what’s inside,” he says. “The design of those buildings is incredible, they go on and on, opening into new courtyards, going up a floor.”
Snyder nods in agreement, “People now can have a piece of the beautiful colonial architecture that they fell in love with, only brand new of course.”