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Esencia, a $2B, 2K-acre planned community proposed for Cabo Rojo

The project is expected to take between seven and 10 years to complete.

Developing firms Reuben Brothers and Three Rules Capital unveiled their plans for a $2 billion planned community in Boquerón Bay in the southwestern town of Cabo Rojo, named Esencia.

The developers have filed their proposed plan for Esencia with the Puerto Rico Permit Management Office (OGPe, in Spanish) for the project that will span about 2,000 acres of privately owned land and that could take some seven to 10 years to complete in phases, creating just about the same number of jobs.

The proposed community has taken about two years of evaluation and analysis and is bringing together three core brands — Aman Group, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Rosewood Hotels & Resorts — to operate the hotels and residences. In all, there are plans for five hotels with a combined 500 keys, and about 1,000 total units of branded residential properties, said Roberto Ruiz-Vargas, COO of Three Rules Capital during an interview with News is my Business.

Because Cabo Rojo has historically been considered one of Puerto Rico’s most environmentally lush towns, the developers stressed that the plan incorporates beach access and amenities for residents, hotel guests and the wider public and community. The group has also vowed to cause the least amount of environmental disruption to the property and its surroundings.

“One of the reasons we were attracted to Cabo Rojo and this land in particular was that. That the land already had incredible topography and so as developers, we’re able to come in and have a very light touch and not have to move dirt,” said Will Bennet, CEO of Three Rules Capital, which already has a track record of working with hospitality brands to create one-of-a-kind destinations, with resort and residential projects throughout Puerto Rico, Mexico, Hawaii, Dominican Republic, Portugal, and New York.

“We’re protecting the wetlands, we’re making sure we keep the natural drainage corridors and anything that’s over 30 degrees in angle, we’re not even touching,” said Bennett.

The plan for Esencia calls for building two golf courses — designed by Reese Jones Inc. — hiking and biking trails, spa and wellness, sports and racket clubs, equestrian center, a bilingual K-12 school, a health and emergency care facility, a town center, as well as two places of worship that will be open to community residents and the public.

“Something that Roberto and Will always had as part of their vision was not developing a project that would segregate themselves from the community,” said Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz, chairman of the Puerto Rico-based Álvarez Díaz & Villalón design firm in charge of the project, along with Florida-based EDSA.

“This is the opposite, it’s a project that becomes part of the community,” said Álvarez-Díaz.

The plan, which will be implemented in multiple phases, is the result of two years of planning and analysis by a team of consultants in a diversity of fields, including environmental science, archaeology, conservation, design and economics.

For more than a year, the developers have been working with residents, community leaders and interest groups in Cabo Rojo, incorporating their input and advice into the project filing. The proponents will request public hearings as part of the formal permitting process, Ruiz-Vargas said.

The planned community proposes limiting built structures in Esencia to 25% of the land or less. The remaining 75% or more will be maintained as open space for conservation, active and passive recreation, and public use, said Álvarez-Díaz.

“A five-star model like this allows it to be less dense. Approximately 15% of the land is going to be developed vertically, and if you include the infrastructure, the streets and things like that, it will reach maybe 25% of the total land area, and that’s actually unique for this type of project,” he said. “The lower density works very well and respects the existing condition of the property.”

Mangroves and water corridors will be protected, while the natural coastal landscape will be enhanced for future generations. Coastal setbacks and public access will be carefully respected and improved, he said.

From left: Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz, Roberto Ruiz-Vargas and Will Bennet offer details of the proposed upscale community.

Esencia is also expected to significantly contribute to the improvement and modernization of the area’s infrastructure, including roads, potable water, sewage systems, energy, and public coastal access, said Ruiz-Vargas, noting that a portion of the $2 billion private investment will include installing clean energy systems and water and sewage treatment plans that will not only serve the community, but will also be shared with the municipality.

“We’re also making improvements to the local highway and building new intersections for our project, which will also improve the town’s traffic situation,” he said, noting that the project connects with roads PR-2, PR-100 and PR-301.

The 2,000-acre property is the result of acquiring several plots of land along the town’s Caribbean coast. The developers received financial backing from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., New York, they stated.

As for the pricing structure of the residences, Álvarez-Díaz said that while it has not yet been finalized, Esencia is designed to be an upscale development, including luxury homes with five-star amenities.

Ruiz-Vargas said that two additional brands will be joining the project in the future.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.


  1. José Ríos Orlandi May 24, 2024

    Que se larguen de aquí los devoradores de terrenos…

  2. Anyra Pena May 24, 2024

    They are taking us our coast!!! I bet that’s a pay down the table project. Boqueron has protected areas and natural reservoirs. This people are trying to steal the Puerto Rican land for tourist. We are against of it.

  3. Liz Morales May 26, 2024

    I don’t think so. They will not take our coast.


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