Pillar Panama Pushes Red Frog Beach Development Back into Action(BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA) -- After being stymied for nearly two years from a labor strike and consequent financial stress, one of Panama's most ambitious luxury resort-style communities is back to life and moving full speed ahead on completing the first phase of its development.
Wild Cane Island Reverse View
The Red Frog Beach project, located off the northwest coast of Panama in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, overcame its paralyzing 20-month strike last October when Pillar Panama chairman/president Joe Haley announced a settlement between Pillar Construction and the local workforce. Meanwhile, caught between the strike and a tightening global economy, Haley was forced to restructure his original partnership to save the project.The end result was a better capitalized group of investors and an invigorated Pillar Panama team as committed as ever in completing the development that calls for a 100-slip marina and marina village, luxury residence club and boutique hotel and spa.
Red Frog aerial view
According to Haley, 80 percent of the development is now controlled by many of the original clients who invested in the idyllic Red Frog Beach property located on Isla Bastimentos."Now we have a new beginning and we're stronger and healthier," adds Haley, who hails from Minnesota. "The last couple years were a huge learning experience for our partnership. What really resonates, though, is the power of many. We had over 400 clients and vendors come together and say, 'We won't let this project die.'"After revising 450-plus contracts, and making a lot of concessions and sacrifices, it's a new beginning for Red Frog Beach. Not only are we going to continue to develop in a responsible and sustainable manner, but we're galvanized by this huge new collective effort."
Phase I Construction - Red Frog Beach
For many of the early investors, this newfound energy is a welcome sight so their compelling eco-conscious lifestyle can finally come to fruition."Red Frog Beach is everything I envisioned as being paradise," says Chris Hahn, one of the early real estate investors-turned partners. "It's a really special, beautiful place on these islands. ... Panama's like Costa Rica 10-12 years, or Hawaii in the '50s."Red Frog Beach is a pristine stretch of property contiguous to a natural marine park with three miles of shoreline. Thus, Pillar Panama will leave approximately 70 percent of the 1,524-acre environmentally sensitive property untouched.Overall residential density is approved for an estimated 900 villas, condos and a luxury residence club being managed by industry leader Jim Whitteron of Spring Creek Partners. Ten of the villas are completed, priced on average at $575,000, with another 42 in construction. The fractional ownership properties are being sold in 1/10 shares.Most of Red Frog's infrastructure is completed and Haley projects the marina will be finished by early summer.
- Dan Cranney