Panama’s Government is planning to invest an estimated $200 million dollars into the new Financial Tower high rise building to take the place of the former US Embassy on Balboa Avenue. This building is planned to house the offices of both government and private sector entities such as the National Bank of Panama, the Superintendent of Banks, the Superintendent of Insurance, Securities and Exchange Commission, the Tourism Authority of Panama, the Ministry of Energy, and the Authority Utilities. Much controversy exists and spectators believe, “This will compete with private interest just at a time when an over abundance of commercial space will be coming available” (Prima Panama, Sam Taliaferro, Sept. 7, 2010). This speculation worries many commercial real estate investors due to the amount of inventory about to be introduced into the Panamanian market.
The design of the Financial Tower, costing some $300,000, has already been completed by the famous Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) design architects, a firm that participated in the design of Burj Dubai’s Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. This new tower is planned to start construction in the beginning of 2011 and scheduled for completion by 2013.
Controversy has stirred up amongst many Panamanians and foreigners. Many believe the government should be spending that exorbitant amount of money on education reform and other socially responsible causes. Some also are offended by the destruction of the old American Embassy, stating that it has strong historical significance and should be renovated into a museum. The building also stands to cause more traffic problems on the already congested Balboa Ave.
One Government official, Carlucci, spoke about the plans and cost for The Financial Tower, “at the beginning it is a high investment, but will serve to reduce public spending on rent, we support it” (La Prensa, Roberto Gonzalez Jimenez). Government officials are looking at this new large investment in the long term and truly believe it will benefit the country.
Only time will tell whether or not this estimated $200 million dollar Financial Building will be worth it. Until then, much debate and controversy will continue to exist and you can be sure Balboa Avenue will continue to be developed.