CARIBBEAN PROPERTY MAGAZINE
Living, Working and Investing in the Caribbean
C O U N T R Y F O C U S : HONDURAS
Hondurans Consumers : The Siren Call of Retail Therapy
By Carter Clews
The Best of Both Worlds
We got sunlight on the sand,
We got moonlight on the sea,
We got mangoes and bananas
You can pick right off the tree,
We got volleyball and ping-pong
And lots of soccer balls!
What ain’t we got?
We ain’t got -- malls!
(With due apologies to Rogers & Hammerstein)
First, allow me a disclaimer.
Even before I put pen to paper to write word one about the pristine beaches of Roatan … New Urbanism’s “walkable communities”… and the lure and lore of “conspicuous consumption,” allow me to offer a decidedly mundane disclaimer: I love to shop!
That’s right, this grown adult male, of ostensibly sound mind and body, with little money (and less time), with pressing deadlines and past due bills, “promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep” still can’t resist the siren song of the beckoning mall. And neither, in fact, can hundreds of millions of other consumers.
That’s why an ecologically sensitive new commercial center soon to go erect on Roatan – Keyhole Village Mall -- is about much more than merely changing the face of that Island paradise.
It’s about a beacon of hope called “New Urbanism.” And about what hopefully will become the enduring model for the rapidly developing lay of the land throughout Latin America.
For re-settlers, retirees, speculators, and expats; vacationers, backpackers – and all who lament the day when most countries’ national flower became the concrete cloverleaf – this is important.
IT SPEAKS NOT ONLY TO LIFESTYLE ISSUES AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES. IT SPEAKS TO THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF EMERGING NATIONS
It speaks not only to lifestyle issues and investment opportunities. It speaks to the infrastructure of emerging nations. And it tells a story of what the future may hold for millions of North Americans, and others, who value their place in the Caribbean sun.
What is Keyhole Village – And What Makes it so Important?
What makes Keyhole Village Mall so fully worthy of the good reader’s time and attention is not only what it is – the first modern shopping mall in The Bay Islands of Honduras -- but also what it embodies. It’s not only what it provides, but also what it portends. Because “thereby,” in the words of The Bard, “hangs a tale.”
A project of Dan Taylor, the owner/developer of the Keyhole Bay , Keyhole Village Mall is the very embodiment of what’s known as the “New Urbanism,” at its best.
As such, it portends a rapid emergence of Roatan Isand into a modern era that respects the traditions, ambiance, and environs of the past, while providing for the wants and needs of the future.
Keyhole Bay, for its part, has quickly established itself as Roatan Island’s premier residential community. Lovingly ensconced on plush, rolling hills overlooking the cresting waves of the azure Caribbean, Keyhole Bay features 23 estate homes and 50 luxury condominiums.
In the words of RetireRoatan.com, “Keyhole Bay is a striking planned community, gorgeous.” But, that’s only the beginning.
If Keyhole Bay has left no stone unturned when it comes to exquisite accommodations, it has left virtually every stone untouched when it comes to protecting the pristine environment of the beautiful Bay Islands.
Excavating the land with lapidary skill, Dan Taylor has not only assured that the ecological balance remains intact – he has actually transplanted trees onto the site that were marked for destruction in nearby developments.
“I decided at the outset,” says Taylor with a twinkle in his eye, “that at Keyhole Bay, we would actually keep the trees rather than just name streets in their memory.”
With the first drinkable tap water ever offered in a Honduran community, virtually hurricane-proof roof tile technology, an elaborate system of run-off filters to protect the barrier reef, and ground-level street illumination to prevent night-light pollution, Keyhole Bay is setting the tone and the pace for ecological awareness throughout Latin America. And it has already been awarded two Honduran awards for its innovative methods for protecting the environment.
Now, Dan Taylor is taking that same passion for excellence and astute awareness to new heights as he begins building the Island’s first modern, one-stop shopping mall on a hilltop adjacent to the residential community.
All of the features and amenities that have made Keyhole Bay both “gorgeous” and environmentally outstanding are being incorporated into Keyhole Village.
A recent advertisement for the unique new mall put it into perspective:
Only a short, leisurely walk through the rainforest from the estate homes and luxury condominiums of Keyhole Bay, Keyhole Village will be The Bay Islands’ first state-of-the-art shopping mall and professional center. And the last word in environmental awareness.
Featuring a wide array of top brand-name stores, fashionable boutiques, a gourmet food court, and gated underground parking, Keyhole Village will offer shoppers all the amenities of America’s most modern gallerias. And it’s 5,000 –square-foot health spa and fitness facility will turn getting – and staying – in shape as easy and enjoyable as taking a trip to the mall.
But, that’s just the beginning.
At Keyhole Village, you’ll also find fully equipped doctors’ suites, business centers, attorneys’ offices, and international banking services to meet your every medical, legal, and financial need. Whether for healthcare emergencies or routine check-ups … major transactions or minor accounting … putting together a large deal or going over the small print, you’re never more than a few minutes away from staying in the pink … and the black.
Directly adjacent to Keyhole Village, you’ll soon find The Bay Islands’ first major supermarket. Here, the fruit will be as fresh as all outdoors, the vegetables will be vine ripened, and the meats and dairy products will be of the same high standards you’ve come to expect at North America’s finest butcher shops and quality creameries.
So, whether you’re leisurely shopping for next week’s groceries … looking to relax over a steaming latte … stopping by the bank … checking up on your health …checking out the latest fashions … or simply idling away some carefree moments far from the madding crowd, you’ll find everything you need -- and more -- always and only at Keyhole Village.
Now, to those familiar with a revolutionary new holistic approach to community building called “New Urbanism,” all of that may sound delightfully familiar.
IN TANDEM, KEYHOLE BAY AND KEYHOLE VILLAGE REPRESENT ONE OF THE FIRST FULLY INTEGRATED NEW URBANISM COMMUNITIES IN ALL OF LATIN AMERICA.
Because, in tandem, Keyhole Bay and Keyhole Village represent one of the first, fully integrated New Urbanism communities in all of Latin America. And, with its commitment to protecting the land while serving its people, that may portend well for what is to come.
Explains Dan Taylor, “Some time back, a very sophisticated lady visited Keyhole Bay from the Chicago area. She loved the community – the luxury condominiums, the private beach, the clubhouse and restaurant. But -- and this was the sticking point -- she finally chose to buy in Panama instead, because, in her words, ‘I need more infrastructure.’ By that, she meant, ‘Where’s the Starbucks?’ Keyhole Village is that infrastructure, offering all of the conveniences of home, with all of the beauty and serenity that make Roatan special.”
That, in essence is where the Keyhole Bay/Village experience joins New Urbanism to make an ecologically sound whole that is decidedly greater than the sum of its parts.
New Urbanism – A Neighborly Solution to Old Problems
Simply put, New Urbanism is the architectural movement that creates a true sense of neighborhood by protecting the ecological balance while putting people first. It puts shops and services within easy walking distance of homes, offices, and schools. It makes tree-lined streets and picturesque walkways an integral part of the community design. And it puts parks and playgrounds as near to the hearth as they are to the heart.
Now, take that warm and nurturing concept -- add a beautiful, private white-sand beach, an azure bay stretching as far as the eye can see, and a modern shopping mall with medical offices and banking facilities – and you have a feel for the Keyhole Bay/Keyhole Village nexus.
.....And for the standard it sets for like developments throughout the Caribbean.
Today, there are more than 600 New Urbanist projects throughout the world.
Most are in the United States. Think Celebration, Florida, and Kenilworth Park, Illinois. But, the neighborhood lifestyle trend is also sweeping Europe and reaching down into Australia.
Keyhole Bay/Village is the first-ever in Honduras. And it’s one of the first in all of Latin America.
Importantly, New Urbanism isn’t only about a heightened quality of life, it’s also about elevating the value of the homes by protecting the ecological core. Traditionally, where towns have adopted the tenants of New Urbanism, homes have appreciated more quickly and sold faster, compared to more conventional developments.
Recent studies by Market Perspectives and the Urban Land Institute that compared New Urbanist developments with standard subdivisions showed a minimum 15 percent premium for houses in New Urbanist communities.
The projects were also selling faster than those in conventional subdivisions.
In Seaside, Florida, the very first New Urbanist community, lots began selling for $15,000 in the early 1980s. Slightly more than a decade later, prices had escalated to about $200,000. Today, some lots sell for close to a million dollars, and houses sometimes top $3 million.
Now, savvy investors – impressed by the combined advantages of Keyhole Bay and Keyhole Village Mall – are getting in early on one of the very first New Urbanist communities in Latin America -- at low pre-construction discount prices. And those who intend to make the unique community their home – or home away from home – are preparing to benefit from all the joys of “conspicuous consumption” only minutes away from the unblemished beauty of the sand, surf, and tropical sun.
Beauty and Bounty – The Best of Both Worlds
Ironically, as trend setting as the New Urbanism is and as unique as Keyhole Village may be, they both are likely as much of a reflection as they are a projection of the changes taking place across the Caribbean right now. Changes vitally important to Caribpro.com readers. Changes not all that surprising to those of us who, admittedly, love to shop.
AS ADAM SMITH SUGGESTED, IN MACRO-ECONOMICS, COMMERCE PRECEDES COMMUNITY, SUPPLY CREATES DEMAND
The fact is, throughout history, the rise to prominence of modern city-states, regions, and even countries more often than not has been presaged by the emergence of commercial opportunity, rather than vice versa. As Adam Smith suggested, in macro-economics, commerce precedes community, supply creates demand.
This writer’s favorite European city, Madrid, provides a case in point.
Madrid, Spain’s, Plaza Mayor. It’s ordination by
Phillip II in 1619 set the stage for Spain’s emergence
as primary site of worldwide commerce.
As the respected historian Jesús Escobar points out in his work, “The Plaza Mayor and the Shaping of Baroque Madrid,” it was the emergence of the Plaza as a primary site of commerce that transformed Madrid from a secondary market town to the capital of the worldwide Spanish Hapsburg empire.
Closer to this writer’s home, and, yes, heart, in the United States, one need only look at the emergence of the erstwhile “jerkwater towns” to see how commerce precedes community.
During the steam engine era, certain small towns had water tanks at trackside. To take on water, the firemen had to reach up, swing the spout over the boiler, and jerk a rope that opened the gate.
The attraction of commerce turned Phoenix, Arizona,
from a jerk water railroad stop to a thriving metropolis
(though not, as seen above, overnight).
Commerce grew up around the tanks – and those “jerkwater towns” grew into cities we know today as Phoenix, Houston, and the like.
Even closer to the heart, in this writer’s own hometown of Baltimore, the wealthiest area of my youthful days – an area called Roland Park – grew up around a small shopping center built in 1891 by a gentleman named Edward Bouton. He built it to serve the commercial needs of a planned, not existing, residential community that in time became the hub.
The Roland Park shopping strip.
Built before the town in 1891 by Edward H. Bouton,
the commercial center presaged the vibrant community to come.
So, in like fashion, the arrival of the New Urbanism in the form of Keyhole Village Mall on Roatan will certainly change the face of that Island unto itself. And, if the past is indeed prologue, it could well change the direction of development throughout the Caribbean. Just as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, success begets replication.
That means beachfront communities all over Latin America could soon have not only sunlight on the sand and moonlight on the sea; mangoes and bananas you can pick right off the tree – they’ll also have modern shopping malls.
And each, hopefully, will be built into the environment with the care and compassion of Dan Taylor’s Keyhole Village.
And that, in turn, means, not long after, at least some of the 94% of Americans who now, like me, love to shop in America’s malls at least three times a month will, also like me, be heading south to warmer climes to while away the hours in Latin America’s malls enjoying the best of both worlds: the beauty of nature and the bounty of its children.