October 17, 2019

A New Community Rises in Costa Rica, but Don’t Bring Your Car

A New Community Rises in Costa Rica, but Don’t Bring Your Car


Residents and visitors live a stone’s throw from ocean-view restaurants, an outdoor adventure outfitter, an upscale grocery with a wine cellar, a day spa and clothing and furniture shops. There is also a beach club with an on-site dive center and a collection of child-friendly and adults-only pools, including a 25-meter lap pool and a hot tub.

In February, Las Catalinas welcomed a new 45-room boutique hotel, and construction on an adjacent three-story wellness center is underway.

“Early on, it was hard to convince people of the benefits of walkability,” said Neal Herman, who oversees operations and urban affairs in Las Catalinas. “When the town was still conceptual, some had a hard time seeing the perceived loss of convenience could be outweighed by the joy of car-free streets. Now they see everything is 100 meters from their doorstep.”

Katie Thompson, a single mother of two, notes that her family is much more active since they moved to Las Catalinas over a year ago. “We take a lot of walks together now,” she said. “That’s when the really nice conversations happen.” Ms. Thompson also finds it a relief not to worry about traffic while her children bike and play in the streets.

“They have never known this kind of freedom before, and it gives me a new freedom, too,” she said.

Another resident, Morgan Jones, said he’s not only happier and healthier living in a town without motorized vehicles, he also spends a lot less on transportation. “After living in cities most of my life, enduring stop-and-go rush hours, it is a pure joy to live in a community where I don’t need and don’t own a car.”

Over 85 homes in Beach Town have already been built, accommodating 506 people. A dozen families live there full time. Fourteen more houses are under construction and nearly 40 additional residences are under design and development. According to Las Catalinas, construction volume is growing at a rate of 80,000 square feet per year.



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