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Las Olas Condominium Project with New Owner

By Arianna McKinney

Photo by Pinar Istek

For more than five years, the unfinished condominium project Las Olas has been an eyesore in Guiones, but that is about to change, as the property has finally been sold and orders have been given to tear the structure down

The new owners of Las Olas are the owners of Harmony Hotel, John Johnson III and his wife, Susan Johnson.  At the same time, the couple also purchased three other neighboring properties across from the Harmony Hotel near the main entrance to Guiones beach, including Hotel Casa Tucan and a corner lot next to Guiones Plaza commercial center.

“For the last three years, the Harmony Hotel has been booked a year in advance during high season.  We just had to grow and with the way Guiones real estate prices are moving, we saw this as probably our last opportunity to do something at this scale,” Johnson related.

Johnson did not wish to disclose the price of the purchases and said that they are still determining their plan for the properties, but he did confirm that they do intend to build more hotel rooms. “We also want to be as mindful as possible to how it’s impacting the community,” he added. 

Most of the property purchases were made through third parties. “I like to think that Susan and I have a good reputation as community-minded people, both here in Nosara and other places where we spend our time, but I’d also have to acknowledge that we are thought of by some as having money to throw away, and that’s just not the case,” Johnson explained. “We maintained our privacy in these purchases, not because we thought these specific sellers would change their prices if they knew the Harmony Hotel was buying but because it’s just better practice to be private until deals are concluded.  This is a small community and the hotel is, last time I checked, the largest employer here. It would be easy for that dynamic to throw a wrench in any deal.”  

Originally Las Olas was planned to be a 24-unit condo project, but Ohio investor Rich Johnson halted construction in November of 2007, with only three of the luxury units sold, and began looking for a buyer or equity investor.
The structures were in fair shape, according to Reese Langston, the trustee of the property, but they were suffering from exposure to the elements. The earthquake on September 5th caused some damage to a few of the metal beams and external coverings, but the real problem revealed by the quake was that the buildings had too much flex in them.

“This is fine for a parking garage,” Langston explained, “but as finished condos, any major earthquake would have caused a lot of bothersome superficial damage, such as cracked drywall, broken pipes, cracked tile, etc.  The cost to fix this flex was too high to justify keeping the buildings.”

Since the existing Las Olas structures do not figure into the new owners’ plan for the properties anyway, orders have been given to tear the existing buildings down and restore the site to raw land. The group contracted to do the demolition work is Adol S.A., a Costa Rican company that specializes in demolition work at the national and international level since 1997. Langston said demolition is scheduled to be completed in mid-April.

“Site safety is of utmost importance, and the property will be locked down while the demolition is in progress.  It is extremely dangerous and unwise for anyone to attempt to access the site,” Langston advised. He recommended that no one approach or park near the fence around the property. 

According to Langston, as many materials as possible will be salvaged and donated, and cement, including the building foundations, will be broken into small pieces for future use as road base. Questions or concerns about the demolition work can be directed to:  [email protected].

More community news

Los Arenales Fiestas Raised Almost $6K for Asphalt

The Fiestas held in Nosara last Saturday March 23 to help raise money for Los Arenales asphalt preparations work collected almost $6000 out of the $28000 that the community need.

MOPT Starts Pavement of Route 160

Pavement is coming for those who live along route 160. Since March 19, machinery from the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) entered the communities with the objective of partially paving 8.5 kilometers.

Community of Los Arenales Organizes Fiesta to Pave Main Road

Even though pavement is arriving to Nosara thanks to an agreement with CONAVI, not all of the costs are covered. In the Los Angeles neighborhood, neighbors need to raise 14 million colones ($28,000) to widen the main street and build curbs and gutters, so they decided to organize a fiesta this Saturday, the 23rd, to collect the funds.

Low Interest in Samara to Have More Police Presence During Easter

On Monday, March 18, the Samara Chamber of Tourism (CASATUR) called a meeting in the community, inviting more than 400 locals, residents and business owners, in order to plan for 20 additional police officers that the Public Force had offered during Easter Week.

New Nosara School Foundation Already Working On The Playground

Some students from Serapio Lopez School in Nosara had to spend the first day of school sitting on the floor of their classroom. Fifth-grader Lara Schussler, 10, said, “It was really sad and uncomfortable.” Ashley Ruiz, 11, also in fifth grade, added that it was hard for them to concentrate on the class while sitting on the floor.

Bureaucracy Delays Process for Ministry of Security to Take Charge of Tourist Police Station Rent

Since last year, the Nosara Security Association has been trying to get the Ministry of Security to take over payments of the rent for the tourist police station in Guiones, but delays in paperwork have held up the process and now the association is almost out of money, once again renewing concerns that the tourist police might have to leave town.

Coming to the Americas from China: One Family’s Story

The wind kicks up the tin roof panels overhead, banging away while we speak. I sit scribbling fervently into my notebook as Xenia Waigui Chan tells me her parents’ peculiar story: How a Tico and Chinese woman got caught up in history and landed in Nicoya.

Costa China: Two Loves, Two Hearts

In mainland China, the festivities surrounding the Chinese New Year are intense and raucous, but here in Nicoya it is a much quieter affair. On Friday, February 8th, I gathered with about 70 people for the celebration of Chinese New Year at El Presidente Restaurant, which was closed to the public for the special event.

“American Project” Asada’s Financial State a “disaster”

On February 20, the Playas de Nosara ASADA water board, often referred to as the “American Project” ASADA, held a meeting assembly to let members know how things stand financially and resolved to send two new rate change requests to ARESEP, the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos).

Samara’s Library Relocated

Playa Samara’s public library has found a new home. The library is housed and operated by a local non-profit organization, La Asociación CREAR, whose new office is now located opposite Intercultura Language School next to the beach.  

Young Ballerinas in Guanacaste Pass International Exam

For the past three years, young ballerinas in Guanacaste have been studying dance in conjunction with the Royal Dance Academy of London, an international institution for dance, and for the past two years they have participated in the annual international ballet exam to receive recognition for having attained a certain level of proficiency such as pre-primary, primary, 1st grade or 2nd grade.

Nosara Asked for More Security on National Television

On Monday, March 4, the Channel 7 news program “Telenoticias” broadcast around the country a 7-minute news item titled “Wave of Thefts in Nosara Generates Anxiety and Insecurity in Neighbors in the Area.”

Telenoticias interviewed locals on case of thief released by judge

Channel 7 Telenoticias sent a news team to Nosara Feb. 26 to report on the local uproar following the release of a burglar caught red-handed inside a house at Playa Pelada, and almost 100 concerned residents appeared at the Casa Tucan during the videotaping to show their outrage. 

DMA delivers school supplies in Nosara area

Starting February 28, Del Mar Academy community service committee (CSC) start delivering supplies and clothes to children in need to the schools of Nosara, Santa Marta, Garza, Esperanza, Santa Teresita, Los Angeles and Delicias.

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