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GRAN PACIFICA, NICARAGUA-ECI Development and Hunter Blair S.A. have broken ground on a 142-unit condominium building, part of a $50-million beachfront development called Milagro del Mar or Miracle of the Sea. The eight-acre resort, stretching across 3.5 miles of Pacific beach, is one hour west of the country’s capital city of Managua.

Hunter Blair is an Atlanta-based home builder. Based in Managua, ECI is a resort developer also constructing projects in Belize and Costa Rica. Its subsidiary, Gran Pacifica Real Estate, is developing the Nicaragua project. Gran Pacifica CEO and co-founder Mike Cobb, says that idea for the company originated while he as on a humanitarian trip to Nicaragua to build a health clinic eight years ago. As Nicaragua has recovered from its civil war in the ’80s, it is emerging as a tourist destination.

“Nicaragua is the last country undergoing a transformation that has occurred in every other Central American country,” says Cobb. Tourism is now the country’s second largest industry. He says that investors in Nicaragua now are “able to catch it at the bottom of the curve.”

Milagro del Mar is being marketed to baby boomers and second-home owners in North America. Expected to be fully completed in 2012, it will include a golf course, as well as pools, water cascades, exercise facilities, restaurants and retail shops. Residences will include condominium buildings and single-family homes.

Its design incorporates “New Urbanism” concepts, including clustering residences together within walking distance to shops to create a tight-knit community. Urban Design Associates created the master plan for the community. Zurcher Arquitectos is the project architect.

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