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History or Progress in Historic Bella Vista; Who Decides and What Drives the Equation?

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Bella Vista, Panama; Beautiful View from a Once Prosperous Neighborhood Now Changing

There are second, third and forth floor balconies in apartments on Avenida Peru on the edge of Bella Vista, Panama where you can still catch a glimpse of the islands on Amador Causeway. That is, you can see a little of the old view if you don't mind putting up with the traffic noise on a major bus route across town. My friend, Julio, tells me that these apartments were once sought after for their "beautiful view" of the bay and the islands of the causeway. Then, one by one, the tall buildings grew up between Avenida Peru and the bay eating away at the view.

There are two Bella Vistas in Panama City. One contains the other. The larger is a municipal district, a corregimiento. This historic old Bella Vista contains many neighborhoods including the neighborhood of Bella Vista. The Bella Vista, Panama neighborhood is bordered by Via Espa�a, Calidonia, the Bay of Panama and Obario.

The name Bella Vista is believed to have come from the larger district's panoramic view of the sea as the land rises steadily up from the Bay of Panama to Via Espa�a. An alternative is view is that the builders who put in most of the homes in the 1930's had a home design called Bella Vista, according to according to a May 21, 2004 article in La Prensa. The same article is a nice review of the problems of historical preservation in changing times. To see the article search for "La Prensa, Panama" and check "archivos." "Bella Vista 2004 historico" will get you the right page.

As we walked around the Bella Vista, Panama neighborhood Julio pointed out the Cuban Royal Palms lining the streets. "This was a very well to do neighborhood," he said. "These palms were typically planted where the upper middle class lived." As we walk along toward Parque Uraca we see older homes and apartments, especially bordering the park. I recognize one from a La Prensa article about preserving old architecture in Bella Vista, Panama.

A neighborhood group, the Junta Comunal de Bella Vista (Bella Vista Neighborhood Committee) has been active trying to make the point that there is much to preserve in historic Bella Vista, Panama. They tried getting a law passed this last session to help with preservation but had no success.

Why Sell if You Have a Historic Home in Bella Vista, Panama?

The problem is property values. As property values have gone up with inflation, development along the bay such as the Cinta Costera project, bay cleanup, the influx of retired Americans ready to purchase property at locally inflated values, Panama has become more prosperous in general. Business is booming and jobs are plentiful. People have money and money drives up prices.

But if you are a retiree living on your pension and savings in an old home in historic Bella Vista and the high rises have cut off your view of the sea why not sell? Your property taxes have gone up with the value of your land but your income has not. Now there is this nice developer offering you much more than you paid for your property.

So, people sell and high rises go up and the neighborhood changes.

An October 2004 La Prensa article notes the need for a development plan to allow preservation of historic buildings in areas such as Bella Vista, Panama but notes that one is not forthcoming and that constructions continues unabated. One of the problems the article notes is that Bella Vista, Panama does not have really old buildings. There are no colonial era structures which the public is more likely to want to preserve. In historic preservation the question is when is something old or old and run down and when is it historic and worthy of preservation. This may be a moot point in a few years in Bella Vista as high rises displace much of historic Bella Vista.

With the Cinta Costera and roadway improvement project for Avenida Balboa in full swing expect property values to climb farther in Bella Vista.

Whether you are looking for a condo overlooking the Bay of Panama or are perhaps interested in restoration of one of Bella Vista's historic homes contact us at ABPanama. ABPanama can help you with find a home or investments throughout the country of Panama.

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