Why Eco-Developers May Choose Belize Over Costa Rica – Jamie Lopez
In the world of ecologically-conscious real estate development, Costa Rica has enjoyed favored status in the Americas for a few decades; however, the challenges of getting some of these projects started are prompting some eco-developers to look at friendlier jurisdictions such as Belize.
As a real estate activity, eco-development is firmly established in Costa Rica, which means that the government has created a number of laws, rules and programs to control this business practice. It is easy to understand the government’s motivation in this regard; after all, the natural beauty of Costa Rica has become one of its greatest assets and drivers of gross domestic product. Nonetheless, some eco-developers see this deep involvement by the government as a bureaucratic and inflexible obstacle they must negotiate in order to carry out their projects.
Unlike Costa Rica, the young Central American nation of Belize, which is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, does not challenge eco-developers with as many bureaucratic hazards, thereby allowing them to realize their projects with greater freedom. Let’s take a look at two examples:
Blackadore Caye, a Caribbean island that is part of Belize, has been the recent focus of discussion among real estate developers who are interested in eco-friendly projects. As reported by The Costa Rica Star a couple of months ago:
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio plans to build an eco-friendly resort on an uninhabited island off Belize, a project aimed at combining environmentalism and hospitality. The actor, a long-time environmental activist who serves as a U.N. Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change, bought 42-hectare (104-acre) Blackadore Caye a decade ago.
In 2011, The Costa Rica Star reported on the former ties Mr. DiCaprio had established with Costa Rica, where he spent romantic sojourns with Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen; this was before she met NFL star Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. Back then, it was rumored that Mr. DiCaprio would take on an eco-development project in our country; alas, he settled on Belize instead. Still, Mr. DiCaprio has contributed very generously to marine life conservation in our country as his foundation provided $2 million towards the construction of a radar facility to monitor Isla del Coco.
Another eco-development in Belize that has been making news headlines is Corozal, which is located six miles away from Mr. DiCaprio’s island project. The Costa Rica Star has previously mentioned this property, which is part of the upcoming Caribbean Basin Auction. Corozal consists of 8,493 acres nestled in the beautiful and vibrant coast of Belize; fully authorized with a master plan for up to 4,500 dwelling units (hotels, condominiums, villas), a marina with up to 400 boat slips, a golf course and a private airport of up to 7,000-foot runway.
The Costa Rica Star recently spoke with Dr. Hart W. Porsch, a managing member of the Corozal project, about the vision of this eco-development in Belize, which intends to encourage a lifestyle that is sustainable and in harmony with nature. Through the Verena Foundation, Dr. Porsch acquired Corozal with a dream to educate about the environment through three main objectives:
1 – To be in harmony in nature by not taking more than you can. To this effect, Corozal has established a reforestation goal: 100 trees per each dwelling; 500 trees per acre. Reforestation is the beginning: Clean water, recycling, waste management, and composting are also goals of the project.
2 – To make a profit through “green dollars.” The Corozal project has envisioned ways to make money from green technology development and climate change research. Once the project matures, one of the conditions is that a research development center is created on the property to come up with ways to generate “green dollars.”
3 – Integrate the community into the project. It is important to assess the skills of local residents to either collaborate with them or teach them valuable skills. One example cited is the local Mennonite community, who are masterful wood workers and furniture makers. Mennonites typically eschew technology; however, other members of the community can help them in placing their wood creations on modern marketplaces so that they do not have to infringe upon their faith.
Although Dr. Porsch mentioned that Belize presents some bureaucratic dilemmas that are endemic to the Caribbean and Central America, he did not mention any governmental obstacles that would preclude Corozal from becoming an ecologically-conscious development. To this effect, Dr. Porsch believes that Belize could be at a breaking moment with regard to attracting investors such as Mr. DiCaprio, who is interested in eco-development projects that do not present the bureaucratic roadblocks that are often found in Costa Rica and other nations.
To a related extent, investors may also be drawn to the fact that Belize is considered to be a corporate-friendly offshore jurisdiction that is ideal for asset protection purposes; moreover, English is the official language of Belize, and many British business customs are still practiced.
The Costa Rica Star