Guatemala developers build private city

Developers building crime-free private city outside Guatemalan capital

News: developers are building a private city on the outskirts of Guatemala City as a safe haven from the crime-ridden capital.

Paseo Cayala is a 14-hectare development of apartments, shops, nightclubs, boutiques and restaurants contained inside white walls at the edge of the city, reports the Huffington Post.

The scheme's developers promote Cayala as a safe haven from the capital's dangerous and congested streets, and hope to eventually expand the project into a new private city spread across 352 hectares.

Access is by car through a single gate leading to an underground garage, from which visitors emerge through covered escalators onto streets patrolled by armed guards.

Guatemala developers build private city, photo by Andrea Quixtain

"Cayala gives a new opportunity for Guatemalans to live without the fear of violence," said one resident, nightclub owner Diego Algara.

The first phase of the Paseo project has 110 apartments, with prices ranging from $260,000 to $800,000. Developers say the first of the two buildings has sold 80% of units, despite the average Guatemalan earning less than $300 a month.

However, its detractors say it will segregate the country's wealthiest citizens from the urban poor.

"Cayala sells an illusion that everything is okay, but it is not open to all people," said local architect Carlos Mendizabal. "[It] tries to imitate a historic centre, the way people move around an urban city, but it fails because it is not a city."

Last year we reported that the government of Honduras had approved the creation of three privately run cities with their own police, laws, government and tax systems.

Work is also about to start on a high-density, car-free "satellite city" for 80,000 people in a rural location near Chengdu, China.