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PANAMA CITY-A privately owned British firm will develop the 2,750-acre former Howard Air Force Base on the banks of the Panama Canal. London & Regional Properties, which is owned by Ian and Richard Livingstone, beat out 16 other bidders, including Miami-based property firm Easton Group, the only other firm to make it to the final round. The selection was made this week, two years after the Panamanian Government invited the World Bank to run an auction to select a developer for the site.

Given the site’s location between the Panama Canal, through which 60% of trade in and out of the US passes, and the Pan American highway, which runs from South America to California, the $700-milion project will include a new multimodal port that will encompass the air-strip, the canal and include massive warehouse-distribution facilities for goods that pass through the canal. The property is also earmarked for thousands of new homes, hotels, a golf course and science park.

The build-out of the property likely will occur over a 40-year period. To make it happen, London & Regional Properties reportedly has teamed up with Isaac and Jaime Gilinski, father and son Panamanian developers who are well known in Central America.

US forces pulled out of Panama eight years ago. Subsequent to the pull-out, control of the base reverted to Panama because of the Torrijos-Carter treaty signed in 1977. The base is now known as the Panama-Pacific Special Economic Area.

The Panamanian Cabinet is due to ratify the decision to appoint L&R next week and the agreement is due to be finalized the following month. A formal master planning application is expected by mid-year.

London & Regional Properties could not be reached Friday for comment. On its website, the company describes the project as “one of the world’s largest development deals.”

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