Industry Profile: Bob Hurwitz of Hurwitz James & Co. discusses Ocean Reef Islands Panama
What is Ocean Reef Islands and how did you and your company got involved? Ocean Reef Islands is one of a kind project for many reasons. It is the first man made group of islands in Latin America and the first one in the Pacific side of the American Continent including the U.S. and Canada. Ocean Reef Island is also unique because it’s the only place in Panama city where one can build an ocean front single home. Residents of ORI will be able to work at the financial district in a very cosmopolitan city and in minutes they can be enjoying the ocean view or even sailing away to the Pearl Island.
The developers of ORI were looking for a company that is specifically identified with representing the best and most unique properties globally to bring awareness of Ocean Reef Islands to the international marketplace. They interviewed several other prestigious Real Estate companies before choosing HJC for our unique proactive approach to the luxury Real Estate Market
This is an extremely ambitious project. Did you ever have any reservations that this might not get off the ground? Initially I was somewhat ignorant about what Panama had to offer and I did a lot of research before committing to the project. ORI is being built by Grupo Los Pueblos, one of the most solid developers in Latin America and the most substantial, successful and respected developer in Panama period. Their position, both operational and financial, guaranteed the success of this unique development. SInce our first involvement we have always being positive that this project will surpass everyone’s expectations in terms of construction, engineering, and marketing success. When I made the first trip to Panama and met with Grupo los Pueblos, toured the city and saw firsthand the incredible expense, thought and effort that are going on with design and construction any reservations I may have had were put to rest. I am very proud to represent the project.
There are two man-made islands planned. Is it true that the first island is almost completely pre-sold? Yes! the first island (which just emerged) is almost completely sold out. There is literally nothing else like this in all of Latin America and the lifestyle and amenities are really over the top.
Can you tell us about some of the amenities planned for the custom homes on ORI? Homes will be built according to the highest standards in construction and finishes. Each home will be custom built with flexibility as far as floor plan and square footage and several variations in architectural style. Maximizing marina, ocean and city views will of course be paramount.
Panama has a great history and a lot of appeal for foreign investors. What are some of the positives of investing in Panama right now?Â Grupo Los Pueblos’ purpose has always been to create a unique and unprecedented project in the region, a world class development created rising the latest advances in modern engineering. The group is known as a pioneering company that develop projects that focuses on innovative and unique developments of the highest standards and great magnitude that differentiates them from others. For them a limitation becomes a possibility. Our country has had a magnificent transformation in the last 3 decades. Our geographic location is a cornerstone for serving the North, Central and South American markets.
The ever-expanding development of the Panama Canal makes all shipments and transshipment a reality not existent anywhere else in the world. Panama also has all of the major banks in the world supporting theÂ local business and investment activities, one of the key reasons why in the last 10 years Panama has seen amazing transformations and incredible growth, which is probably the highest in Latin America. A very important fact we need to understand is that Panama is not a 3 million person country but an economic engine that serves over 400 million people in the region…which means that this economy will keep on growing and expanding. This illustrates the reason Grupo Los Pueblos embarked on this challenge to build the first man made urban islands of Latin America. At the end, when the islands are completed, this will not only be a project for Panamanians or Latin-Americans; but a project for the entire world.
As many of our readers are yacht owners, can you describe the benefits of a planned marina? Ocean Reef Islands Marina will be a Â“Residential MarinaÂ” limiting transient vessels and short-term rentals. Ocean Reef residents will have priority over non-residents whose lease agreements will be revocable with timely notification.
The access to the marina is independent of the entry to Ocean Reef Islands. It will be located in the same geographic position of islandsÂ’ entry, in a basement where the slip owners will access the parking area and take an electric car to the marina. The perimeter car path to the marina will be 3 meters below the level of the homesites to preserve their privacy. Only the homesites adjacent to the marina will have direct access without having to exit the islands and go through the access control of the marina.
With more than 200 slips, the Ocean Reef Islands Marina will be the ultimate full service and around the clock marina in Panama City. Our wet slips will accommodate vessels from 40 to 250 feet in length. Ocean Reef Island Marina services for wet slip owners include: 24 hour access to the docks Telephone 24 hour security Electricity Internet access Fresh Water Fuel Services Ample parking Trash removal Dock boxes at every slip Restricted electric car access to slips Independent marina access
As someone who enjoys the lifestyle epitomized by Ocean Reef Islands in Panama, I am very enthusiastic about the opportunities for yacht owners. While in Panama I experienced 3 days freediving and spearfishing in pristine waters, world class fishing, hiking and exploring lush islands, all within a short trip by boat from ORI. There are countless deserted white sand beaches, protected coves and bays, and and ecological paradise of lush jungles and remarkable wildlife.
We know your international reach is expanding. WhatÂ’s next for Hurwitz James Co.? We are poised to become one of the biggest players in the international luxury real estate market. This has been a natural evolution for me over the past 10 years when I began seriously reaching out in a number of proactive ways to reach affluent overseas buyers who make up a large segment of buyers for luxury properties in the US. As a result of years of high profile overseas marketing, including promoting my listings at property exhibitions worldwide, I established networks, personal and business connections, and clients all over the globe that are invaluable. I now have agents in my company who live in and/or work in the most active and productive cities for affluent buyers in over a dozen different countries and whose only job is to promote the properties and developments we represent to that market in a number of ways. After finding myself contacted to consult or assist in marketing on a regular basis by companies who represented luxury home developments, I decided I might as well create a division of my company to service this market.
Besides Ocean Reef Islands, we represent the $120 Million Genesis Puntarenas Development in Costa Rica and have just been retained to exclusively market the $1.3 Billion dollar Cosmopolis luxury home and gated community in the rainforest at Herradura, and a unique Green development consisting of 20 luxury villa (8.5 to 9 million euro each including 1/20 ownership in the golf course, spa, restaurant) golf resort on the ocean in Bora Bora. We have several other upcoming luxury developments in the Caribbean, Brazil and a beautiful island hotel resort and residences project we are working on in Italy. I am very discriminating in the projects I want the company to represent and regretfully turn down a number of good developments that I do not believe would fit the marketing segment with which I am most familiar and effective in reaching. I have a great team of very experienced luxury residence marketing and sales people working for me, and their input and ideas are part of a welcome collaboration, but the ultimate marketing responsibility and interaction with the developers falls rightfully on my shoulders. In today’s very challenging market it is imperative that each and every advertising dollar be put to the most effective possible use. My goal is to get the most bang for the buck for my clients and every dollar that comes from the budget I must feel confident will generate something positive before I commit. Many of our sales come directly from our own personal networks developed from decades of representing trophy properties and clients from around the world. In conjunction with traditional advertising in specifically targeted publications like Ocean Home, which website is a key one-two component attracting inquiries, the combination of a stellar brand, appealing project design and associate lifestyle, this type of connection is a powerful combination to effectively market unique luxury developments.