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In PC: Via Argentina and Via Uruguay Revitalization Projects Are Less Than Successful

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Via Argentina “heads to abyss”, 40+ businesses bankrupted

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On the eve of his bid to become the Panamenista Party presidential candidate, Mayor Jose, Isobel Blandon got a strong heads up from merchants on Via Argentina, claiming that there have been over 40 bankruptcies on the once-booming thoroughfare since the start of his much-vaunted rehabilitation scheme.

On Friday, October 26, they gathered in El Cangejo to protest the inconveniences and financial hardships, caused by the slow pace of work and disruption in the sector.

The group insists that it is not opposed to restorations and repairs on the road and public services, but to the way it has been done,

They also wonder who will pay them compensation for the damage they have caused them and pointing out that even some survivors have had to reduce the staff of their shops.

Luis García Eliseo Hernández, one of the merchants told La Prensa that nobody is opposed to the project, “what we oppose is the way and manner in which it is being built”. Hernandez said that it is leading to the abyss, not only for the community but also for businesses.

Over  40 shops have declared bankruptcy and he warned that there are lung problems among residents.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/via-argentina-heads-to-abyss-40-businesses-bankrupt

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50 shops closed in once  trendy tourist area

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Posted 23/02/2019
 
The timing couldn’t be worse for Panama city mayor and wannabe president,  José Isabel Blandón after an uninspiring performance in the first debate if presidential candidates.

A lawsuit against the Municipality of Panama has been launched by a dozen merchants of  Vía Argentina, in the Third Chamber of Supreme Court (CSJ).

argentina-1.jpgThe citizens, grouped in the movement 'Comerciantes Unidos de Bella Vista', announced on Friday, February 22 that at least 50 businesses in the once trendy area have closed as a result of the construction of the rehabilitation project of by city the mayor Blandón.

The merchants have requested fair compensation for the damages suffered due to the construction of the $26.2 million project. It is estimated that the demand could reach $8 million.

The complaints are related to problems suffered by sewage, lack of parking and frequent flooding in the sector.

The renovation works on the road cover twelve blocks, located between Vía España and Avenida Manuel Espinosa Batista, in the sector of El Cangrejo.

This area was once very frequented by Panamanians and foreigners thanks to the variety of shops, restaurants, bars, bakeries, pharmacies and beauty salons.

The merchants say that they had not received the required responses through the Transparency Law.

Meanwhile, businesses in the Calle Uruguay area, scene of another protracted Blandon rehabilitation  project  are watching developments

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/50-shops-closed-in-once-trendy-tourist-area-1

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What about Juice Mi, across (formerly) from Banco Nacional? And Delicias Chiriqui on the river bank next to the Feria bridge? I suspect there may be others. ?

Regarding Juice Mi, I recall having several conversations with David Hatton about his "fights" (plural) with the city and specifically including the mayor about the road conditions, dust, lack of water, etc. We really liked Juice Mi because it was good (healthy) food, good service, and good value.

Edited by Bud

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11 minutes ago, Bud said:

What about Juice Mi, across (formerly) from Banco Nacional? And Delicias Chiriqui on the river bank next to the Feria bridge? I suspect there may be others. ?

Regarding Juice Mi, I recall having several conversations with David Hatton about his "fights" (plural) with the city and specifically including the mayor about the road conditions, dust, lack of water, etc. We really liked Juice Mi because it was good (healthy) food, good service, and good value.

 

One restaurant owner told me that their business was down 40 to 60% during the various road closures.

 

Brutal.

 

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Neither of those were very ‘established’ businesses, imo.

No business has been successful at the Bridge location. High rent is supposedly the killer there. I believe the owners are working out of their home on Av. A East and are open in the afternoons.

The biggest problem with the building near Banco Nacional is a lack of parking because the prime tenant rents out it's parking lot to artesans. Gastronomia Otto has done well there but David is now relocating it to a new spot across from La Posada.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Wow Keith. You sure are hard over on being positive about Panama government and the infrastructure. I never read anything you write that is even in the slightest negative about Panama. There are times when criticism is justified, in my opinion.

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Keith, as far as I know, you seem to be the best informed gringo in the area with respect to what's happening here in Boquete, so a question for you. 
The former owner/manager of Restaurante Baru told me before he apparently lost/sold the business that Boquete's torn up streets had hurt his revenues very badly, a few other business managers have said the same to me, and others have told me that tourism in Boquete had dropped a lot due to the same problem, hurting hotels and restaurants and many of their employees. 
I think I recall a meeting of quite a few (maybe a dozen?) business managers with President Varella here in Boquete at which they reportedly criticized the work's effects on their businesses, and he promised that the streets would be repaved by a certain date. 
Now Restaurante Baru apparently has new owners, has been renamed Bamboo, has lost many of its former employees, and has come out with a much pricier menu, although we recently felt that the meals we were served were not as enjoyable as we previously experienced in Baru's better days. 
Do you know of any public information about the scope of the economic harm (lost revenues, etc.) Boquete's tourism-dependent businesses have experienced? 
Thanks.

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2 hours ago, BD said:

Wow Keith. You sure are hard over on being positive about Panama government and the infrastructure. I never read anything you write that is even in the slightest negative about Panama. There are times when criticism is justified, in my opinion.

Instead of jumping on the 'Let's blame the Mayor" bandwagon for every negative in this town (the easy thing to do), I attempt to provide reasonable, factual answers  ..in this case why the two businesses failed.

In one instance the rent is exorbitant.

The other location had no parking, and if I'm not mistaken, the operator has also been unsuccessful at several other unrelated business ventures.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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1 hour ago, Mike Traynor said:

Keith, as far as I know, you seem to be the best informed gringo in the area with respect to what's happening here in Boquete, so a question for you. 
The former owner/manager of Restaurante Baru told me before he apparently lost/sold the business that Boquete's torn up streets had hurt his revenues very badly, a few other business managers have said the same to me, and others have told me that tourism in Boquete had dropped a lot due to the same problem, hurting hotels and restaurants and many of their employees. 
I think I recall a meeting of quite a few (maybe a dozen?) business managers with President Varella here in Boquete at which they reportedly criticized the work's effects on their businesses, and he promised that the streets would be repaved by a certain date. 
Now Restaurante Baru apparently has new owners, has been renamed Bamboo, has lost many of its former employees, and has come out with a much pricier menu, although we recently felt that the meals we were served were not as enjoyable as we previously experienced in Baru's better days. 
Do you know of any public information about the scope of the economic harm (lost revenues, etc.) Boquete's tourism-dependent businesses have experienced? 
Thanks.

Mike, I have no doubt that street business has been affected. To what extent is hard to say.

All the established businesses I patronize are still there and the town has been full of tourists for a few months now.

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Wow BD.

Do you like it when foreigners who are living in the U.S. whine publicly about everything they perceive that's wrong with their community or the U.S. government ?

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Not that I get to Boquete often, but I have not seen an appreciable drop in tourist numbers.  I can understand how businesses are suffering, but IMHO a lot of that may have to do with the physical number of eateries in the town.  Realistically, the local population cannot support that many and the tendency of some places to charge Paris prices for average food doesn’t help.  Having said that, it is also obvious that the road works took longer than reasonably expected, but this is Panama and that is the norm.  It is the way things are here, work around it.

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 A revitalization boondoggle

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Posted 08/06/2019

The “revitalization” of  Via Argentina is one of the emblematic projects of the outgoing administration of the Municipality of Panama. The initiative, which must conclude at the latest by the beginning of the year 2020, constitutes an important intervention in an area heavily affected by disorderly urban growth and the intense circulation of automobile traffic. For some of the residents of the area, the project represented a severe impact on their economic activities, damaging their profitability: at least two of these establishments have already sued the municipality in the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court, demanding the corresponding repair of damages. Thus, an initiative that should have become a step towards new urbanism, has been the cause of conflicts and is blamed for the flooding in the streets near the intervened area. Perhaps if the authorities had spent a little more time consulting and informing residents and businesses located on the  road, another there would have been another result. Because of the winds that blow, it is possible that other demands are added to these. Despite this, it is necessary to make the necessary corrections and assimilate the lessons learned to continue transforming and recovering public spaces in the city of Panama. What happened on the Via  Argentina  must be an example of what cannot be repeated.  – LA PRENSA, May 8

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/a-revitalization-boondoggle-1

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Posted (edited)

The headline to this article is bogus.

I still can't recall 40+ businesses being bankrupted in Boquete because of the water project, if any. In fact I see more establishments and stores opening here all the time.

As anyone knows who is familiar with the area, the Via Argentina project in Panama City is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Panama municipality sued for $376,000 over road “improvements”

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Posted 11/06/2019

Two  lawsuits totaling $376,000 have been filed against the Municipality of Panama for economic damages caused by the urban intervention works on  Via  Argentina in the Bella Vista district of Panama.

The first was filed by the firm Calvera, Oro & Asociados, representing the company Animal Brew Pub & Café, requiring payment of $ 183,000, while the second was filed s promoted by the same firm representing Ferretotal, SA, which Claims $193,000

The first demand has the magistrate Luis Fábrega, as a speaker and the second, Abel Zamorano.

The revitalization of Via Argentina the Argentine highway has a price tag of $25 million and is carried out by Constructora Urbana, SA (CUSA).  Municipal authorities estimate that it will be ready by the end of June or the beginning of July.

 Agapito González, Legal Director of the Municipality of Panama, underlined that in the case of Animal Brew they were notified and soon will present an explanatory report on behavior.  "Once we are notified of the other demand, we will present our disclaimers," he said.

There was no  reported comment from Mayor Isobel Blandon, who after his failed presidential bid will leave office at monthDeputy Mayor, Raisa Banfield , maintained that, without detracting from the impact that the execution of the works had on some businesses, it should be noted that now there is more influx of people in the premises and economic activity increases. "We understand the demands for compensation, but the environment of the area place has been improved," she said.

Since April 2017, when the project began, several businesses closed or were flooded by the works leaving social media commentators to label the street Via Venice-minus the gondolas.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-municipality-sued-for-376000-over-road-improvements

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Mayor-elect mopping up Uruguay, Argentina thoroughfares

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Work will continue through the year

Posted 21/06/2019

Panama’s mayor-elect  José Luis Fábrega is already moving to clean up the much-trumpeted flagship renewal projects of his predecessor, Jose Isabel Blandon in Calle Uruguay and via Argentina, and Via Espana which still presents recurring flood problems.

According to Fábrega, two boxes will be installed with a system of four pumps that will help in the collection and management of rainwater, which will go to the Bay of Panama. This pumping system will work for five months, until the rains end, he said.

Initially, the cost of this work - developed by the construction company Meco - was $26 million and  $7 million was added last year to add the connection of sanitary lines.

The new addendum  has an estimated cost of $350,000

The  new proposal,  came  after four meetings held by Fábrega with representatives of the Panamanian Society of Engineers and Architects (SPIA), the Panamanian Chamber of Construction, the Director of Works and Construction of the Municipality of Panama, Antonio Docabo, and some representatives of organized civil society, mainly residents of the affected area.

Fabrega added that in some way this type of proposal will be executed in other municipal projects, such as the urban renewal of Via Argentina road, the revitalization of the via Espana Spain, the improvements in Parque Urracá which were recently flooded and the adequacy of La Gallinaza stream, in Juan Díaz.

The solutions for these last areas will be announced in the coming days.

 Sión Atencio, the coordinator of the Infrastructure Commission of the College of Engineers and member of SPIA, stressed that the rainfall pattern is changing in the country.

Atencio explained that currently, it rains in an hour what previously fell for a whole day, and no drainage system that dates back many years can handle that amount of water correctly.

To develop a specific project, engineers use an element called intensity, duration and frequency curve, which is nothing more than the behavior of the rains during a certain time and place. That allows them to define the model or constructive design that will be implemented, but the curves date from 1972.

Given this scenario, the mayor said they will take into account the new parameters of rainfall in the city of Panama for the next works carried out by the local government.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/mayor-elect-mopping-up-uruguay-argentina-thoroughfares-1

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Unfinished road projects in focus for new mayor

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The Calle Uruguay never ending story

Posted 01/07/2019

The unfinished projects on Via Argentina and Calle Uruguay, part of the legacy of the previous mayor have to be completed said  Panama’s new mayor, Luis Fabrega, on Monday, July 1.

There have been constant complaints from residents and businesses some of which have been forced to close, due to problems, generated by the projects whose completion dates have long passed.

Mayor Fábrega announced that they have asked the architect Antonio Docabo, director of Works and Constructions of the Mayor's Office of the last administration of José Isabel Blandón, to remain for the next five years.

He added that the name of Docabo will be presented to councilors for ratification.

Fábrega said that a few weeks ago they called different agencies and groups together to analyze a better solution for the projects.

He also stressed that it is vital to get all the capital’s cleaned up, in order to notice a change.

"We will work with all the necessary State bodies, in order to do the works we have in mind," he said

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/unfinished-road-projects-in-focus-for-new-mayor

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"Trial and error" revitalization project ready in March

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Posted 15/10/2019

After a tour of the $26 million and counting Calle Uruguay “revitalization”. Panama  mayor José Luis Fábrega, said on Tuesday October 15, that the project, was  executed  without planning and by “trial and error. ” who was accompanied by city officials, engineers, and a leading architect 

The facelift of what was once a thriving entertainment area was initiated by his predecessor Jose Isobel Blandon, who has been widely criticized by residents and businesses for both the Calle Uruguay works and the revitalization of Via Argentina which has led to flooding and the bankruptcy or closing of numerous businesses.

Fábrega said that the  project will now  be finished   “ in a responsible way.” What they are trying to do, together with those affected,  the construction company and the Municipality is to finish the project to the satisfaction of all.

According to Fábrega, “we want to finish that section as soon as possible, so that the merchants can reactivate their businesses and that Calle Uruguay will  again be  what it was before. He expects the project to be completed in March next year

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/quottrial-and-errorquot-revitalization-project-ready-in-march-1

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1 hour ago, Moderator_02 said:

the project, was  executed  without planning and by “trial and error. ”

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

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