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A city in Uruguay with the ambition to become the innovation hub of South America

The Uruguayan city of Colonia del Sacramento is expected to double in size in ten years with the development of a new urban area and the ambition to become a kind of Silicon Valley of South America. Total investment forecast is 1.9 billion dollars.

Mas Colonia real estate project
Mas Colonia project with the goal to welcome 30,000 people in ten years | © +Colonia

Uruguayan local officials of Colonia de Sacramento approved the real estate development plan of a modern urban area built off from scratch with the ambition to become a leading innovation center in South America.

Total investment is estimated to be 1.9 billion dollars to welcome 30,000 people in 7,000 to 8,000 newly-built residences in the next ten years. A first round of investment of $100 million is expected to be able to build first properties and welcome residents early next year.

The Departmental Board of Colonia, the legislative body of the department, eventually approved this massive private real estate development project on April 29, La Nacion first reported.

The new city would be built in Colonia del Sacramento, on a strip of natural landscape of 500 ha (1,236 acres). The project called +Colonia, for Mas Colonia, is also referred to as Colonia Ala Este, for East Wing of Colonia, as it will basically create another urban area in the east of Colonia. It would double its population size.

Colonia del Sacramento is a coastal city of approximately 26,000 people in the south of Uruguay with strong connections with Argentina. It actually faces Buenos Aires, only separated by 40 km (25 miles) of the Río de la Plata estuary.

This real estate project actually comes from an Argentine businessman, Carlos Bastitta, based in Uruguay for more than 30 years who bought the land 35 years ago. Now 90, his son Eduardo Batistta now leads the investment, with a team mostly from Argentina.

Map of the Mas Colonia project on the Río de la Plata estuary
Map of the Mas Colonia project on the Río de la Plata estuary | © +Colonia

And part of the plan is also to attract young international workers and families, especially Argentine people given its proximity, on a 7 km (4 mi) strip of land with sand beaches and minutes away from an airport.

Uruguay is often called the Switzerland of South America with its stable economy.

The country actually saw a record number of visa application requests in 2021, a 44% increase from previous years, at the surprise of Uruguay Foreign Ministry officials, according to El Pais. And the growth mainly comes from Argentina, which accounts for 84% of the applications, after a few years where residence requests were dominated by Venezuelans trying to flee their country.

Developers intend to build a smart city to bring tech companies, create 6,000 jobs in the knowledge economy and become a sort of Silicon Valley, all things considered. Like many other innovation hubs in the world, Colonia del Sacramento can build upon higher education with the Technological University of Uruguay.

Local authorities are overall in favor of the project. Nevertheless, the urbanization of this wild land ecosystem has raised some concerns on its environmental impact but +Colonia assures it would have the highest environmental standards.

Given the size of this private initiative, national authorities would most likely need to issue permits as well as receiving approval from environment regulation agencies. In a visit in the region last July, Uruguay president Luis Lacalle Pou met with the +Colonia team.

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