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U.S.-Based Real Estate Developer Puts The Environment First In Developing Arenal Hills In San Ramón

U.S.-Based Real Estate Developer Puts The Environment First In Developing Arenal Hills In San Ramón

When it comes to developing the land, Costa Rica is a country deeply committed to preserving its natural resources – particularly its wildlife and its resources. This was a commitment embraced by Gerald Baum, president of Florida-based Costa Rica Land Capital Partners, LLC, and developer of Arenal Hills, located in Tres Esquinas, San Ramón.

Baum, who married Gisella from Esparza, Costa Rica in 2011 and lives in Brooksville, Florida, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This is such a special place. We vowed to go beyond what was required to deliver what was best for this beautiful piece of property. Once we passed the environmental assessment from the SETENA, we had the approval to develop 190 or more free-standing villa homes on the property. But then we did the unthinkable—we went back to the drawing board,” said Baum.

The developer cut the number of homes to be developed in the first phase by nearly a third, bringing the total number of home sites to less than 130 on 100 acres. They added a luxury Clubhouse that was drawn from the same pen that envisioned the nearby Springs Resort & Spa in Arenal, Costa Rica. That same architect-builder team from The Springs, led by Jorge Chinchilla, also drew the floor plans and crafted the first two villa homes on the site, which are modeled after The Presidential Suite at The Springs.

The villa homes feature a relatively small footprint for a structure of this quality. They offer 1,200 square feet of central air-conditioned space and an additional 600 square feet for outdoor pursuits. Sustainable building components like marble counter tops and wash basins from Peru, as well as extensive use of native hardwoods like laurel and bamboo eliminated the need to import exotic materials from abroad.

Arenal Hills first buyers are Drs. John and Sara Gonda from Moorpark, California. When Dr. Sara Gonda was studying veterinary medicine at UC Davis in the late 1990s, she studied in Monteverde, Costa Rica for a month. The area, its wildlife and the people made a profound impact on her, both personally and professionally. Now, she and her husband John, also a veterinarian, own a special piece of the region at Arenal Hills.

“When Sara first visited where she did her research, she fell in love with it all over again. I can see why, it’s such a magical place. The Arenal volcano is amazing—you can feel it just being there,” said Dr. John Gonda.

The Gondas and their two young sons ages four and 11, have been visiting Costa Rica about every six months for the last six years. In fact, their youngest son has been to Costa Rica seven times in his lifetime. The Gondas go there for many reasons – the climate, the outdoor activities, the scenery, and most importantly, the wildlife. They volunteer at Proyteco Asis Animal Rescue Center located near Arenal Hills in San Carlos, Alajuela, Costa Rica.

“The first time we went to La Fortuna, I was struck with how family friendly the people were. They were very welcoming to kids and families. That’s when we started looking for a place in Costa Rica.” he said. “Once our villa home is built at Arenal Hills, we plan on going back five or six times a year until we retire. Then we can live six months in Costa Rica, and six months in Southern California. Arenal Hills fit the bill for exactly what we were looking for.”

Another element that drew the Gondas to Arenal Hills was its private Club Vida, which will be 140,000 square feet in size and will offer fine dining, a resort-style pool with swim-up bar, concierge services, pickleball courts, mens’ and women’s locker rooms, and even a mini golf course.

Even with all these amenities, the environment is always top of mind in this community’s master plan. No cars are allowed past the manned entrance’s parking lot. From there residents travel to their single-family style villa homes via electric golf carts. This makes it possible to utilize narrower pathways made of natural materials, rather than double-laned roads paved with asphalt.

Use of native plants, like flowering gingers, native palms, ferns, Ti plants, and lilies welcome butterflies and hummingbirds into the landscape, and provide a lush, living privacy screen between homes. The homes are also designed to take full advantage of the gentle tropical breezes common to the region with lots of windows and French doors that invite fresh air and natural light in.

From an infrastructure perspective, the developers of Arenal Hills chose to bury all power lines as well as other pathways for water, sewer and other services even though this was not a land use requirement. This allows for unobstructed views of the dramatic scenery all around.

“This is where I will retire to one day. It’s also my family’s legacy. We want to leave behind a community with a relatively low carbon footprint without sacrificing creature comforts for people as well as wildlife,” said Baum.

For more information, visit http://www.arenalhills.com

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