Mini cities: The new trend of the real-estate market in Central America
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Acosta Schnell, Sabrine
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The emergence of mini cities as new trends in the real estate market in Central America, is an original case study little investigated due to its recent nature in the region. This paper aims to identify and characterize Central America´s mini cities proposing they are a hybrid urban form including characteristics of gated communities, themed spaces and commercial spaces. This discussion is part of the progress of a PhD thesis that contemplates different case studies in Central America. The methodology integrates a review from the perspective and frame work of the “new towns” proposed by Galantay (1975) in order to portray another stage in the economic and social evolution of living how this follows the urban commercial logics. They are seen as a newer typology of this classification of planned cities in the context of neoliberal urban development. Observation, interviews and a marketing analysis are part of the method to identify these new urban forms which have been introduced less than ten years ago as private mix use projects. Since 2014, a rapid growth of these mini cities has been recorded in Costa Rica, Panamá, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. These are sold by the private sector as a “solution” to the new urban challenges that are emerging as a response to an increasing negative urban perception, a deteriorated and collapsed urban transport system, and also due to the introduction of innovative retail patterns. It is concluded that the private sector is emphasizing its investment in mix use projects seeking to concentrate land uses in order for users to avoid contact with the external negative urban realities. It is an evidence of the real estate-market´s most recent neoliberal tactics to participate strongly in the transformation of the urban space.
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