Boosting the Integrated Urban Operations in the Framework of the Master Plan Santa Marta 500 Years in Colombia


Amount Raised


Total Investors

Project Overview

The project is oriented towards formulating, managing, and implementing 2 Comprehensive Urban Operations (OUI in Spanish). The application at hand is focused on one of them: Agora Caribe, located in the area of Pozos Colorados, in the city of Santa Marta, Colombia.

According to the Territorial Law Plan, the project’s area emerges as the only coastal space in the urban layout of the city without edification. Thus, it simultaneously shows intense housing pressure and high urbanizing potential, and developmental appeal. Therefore, this project is first expected to turn this space into a window of opportunity that allows Santa Marta to arrange this territory’s innovative planning model correctly. The aim is to pursue a better economic development and quality of life for its citizens, strengthening the touristic positioning as well at the national and international level.

In general terms, there is a projection of the urban space in which a new tourism model is promoted based on the preservation and potentiation of the natural and cultural elements of the territory, which are considered excellency assets. (Such as the Sierra Nevada, the natural parks, the indigenous cultures, the sea, and the beaches, among others). At the same time, there is an implementation of eco-efficient housing models, quality public areas and infrastructure offer, a combination of purposes that promote economic reactivation, social inclusion, and the incorporation of last generation technologies.


  • Affordable Housing
  • Energy
  • Roads & Bridges
  • Informal Settlements Upgrading
  • Transport & Mobility
  • Urban Infill & Public Space
  • Waste Management
  • Water & Sanitation
Funding Goal
Latin America and the Caribbean


The comprehensive urban operations have as their primary purpose the promotion of urban transformations in strategic areas of the city, based on the criteria from the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, the OUIs formulated in the city of Santa Marta are conceived as an exercise of urban intelligence to build a new vision of the urban premises. A new vision built on a specific code of values and focused on the service of the qualitative objectives of well-being and the progress of the Samarian society.

The primary scope is to create urban scenarios propitious for the adequate development of the strategic zones where environmental, socioeconomic, and infrastructure systems are articulated. The aim is to foster new urban centralities that can offer proximity and diversity of services, employment opportunities, housing, public areas, among others, to citizens and tourists. These scenarios expect the mobilization of different public and private actors and local communities to achieve the management, financing, and implementation of the desired projects.

In the case of Agora Caribe (Pozos Colorados), the intervention intends to cover an estimated total area of 77 hectares, for which, in an initial area there will be developed a trigger operation in a surface of 42.6 hectares, an area that was delimitated based on the public pieces of land. Therefore, it will facilitate quicker and more favorable management of the land to settle on what has been proposed. It is worth mentioning that the proposal at hand is still in an early outlining phase.

Eventually, to give continuity to the formulated plans, the following phase consists of formulating the project’s pre-feasibility, allowing a more significant boost and a consolidated basis to the formed proposal. Among the aspects that should be developed, the preliminary and final structuration of the projects’ portfolio, a management plan definition for each project draft, and the analysis and approval of the public and private proposals and the APP.

Progress Tracker


  • Phase 1


    The OUIs are conceived as intelligent urban practices that constitute a new future vision of the selected urban domains. The OUIs depart from a specific set of values inspired by the principles of the New Urban Agenda and orientated towards the wellbeing and progress of the Samarian society, following the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 2030.

    The outlining phase includes a conceptual-technical proposal of the OUI, the general scheme of the implementing economic models, and a management plan for the financing area to enable the adequate implementation of the project.

    In the first place, a characterization of the territory was developed, allowing us, with the involvement of public and private actors, to consolidate the different urbanistic concepts that will be used throughout the project. At the same time, an initial urban profile is proposed indicating the different areas, usages, and architectonic conceptual scheme for the OUI. Additionally, a governance and finance profile was designed that provide the guidelines for potential costs and execution time and the public and private actors that are necessary for the project consolidation, indicating the participation percentage of each one of them.

  • Phase 2


    The Pre-feasibility phase includes the following aspects: Development of the technical design

    Pre-feasibility of the OUI portfolios including the following issues:

    Approval of the certificate of incorporation, incentives plan and resource allocation, unit management structuration of the OUI. Subsequently, a structuration of the project portfolio containing: the socialization of the preliminary design, update of the management and business model, development of the partial urbanistic/plan proposal, and each project’s financing and hiring modality.

  • Phase 3


  • Phase 4


    The execution phase contemplates the construction of the following infrastructure.

    1) Cultural Centre under the name of Crea Caribe

    2) Green Corridors in the Pozos Colorados Area

    3) Connection Routes in the OUI implementation areas

    4) Two Eco-communities: The first one is located in the pond area of Pozos Colorados, and the second one in the coastal area of intervention.

    This phase will also include the evaluation and viability, the permits, and the design of two strategies of mixed-use land in the pond areas and the Gabo Boulevard sector (Caribbean trunk road)

Current Stage

Concept Stage


The project’s timeframe is expected to unfold for 6 years, out of which 1.7 years refers to the pre-investment phase, the execution phase for the public work is expected to be 2.5 years, and the execution of the public-private work is expected to correspond to 4 years.

Project Milestones


ESG Impact

The project was structured based on criteria that promote the economic and social development of the region. For this reason, the central axis of the project revolves around the creation of urban centers that offer a wide range of services, facilities and economic activities. These elements together will provide the city of Santa Marta with the opportunity to increase its economic and social development, since they will promote the development of productive and tourist centers, where the general population will have access to formal jobs, public space, economic activities and fundamental services, thus increasing their quality of life and well-being.

One of the main components of the project will be the development of a new tourism model that will allow the city to obtain greater social and economic benefits, establishing various sustainability criteria that preserve and enhance the various exceptional elements of the territory, as well as incorporating the great local cultural offerings directly with the tourist.


The project is structured based on the UN-Habitat mandate, which contemplates the development of urbanism in which no one is left behind. Thus, the current project aims to consolidate an urban piece that congregates in an equal manner the different societal actors, allowing the city’s inhabitants to equally and inclusively participate in the public space.

On another note, considering the city’s flaws regarding public space, equipment, and transportation, the project establishes itself as an opportunity to respond to these problems, offering a series of spaces that allow the development of these activities inclusively for the whole Samarian population. We must highlight that nearly 64% of the total OUI area will be destined to create a safe and inclusive public space. Therefore, considering what was just explained, the OUI has as its objective the achievement of metropolitan and regional scope, consolidating itself as an urban centrality which implies that the project would have a repercussion on the 538.512 citizens of the city and a direct impact on the 11.963 inhabitants of the Pozos Colorados sector.

SDG Goals

SDG 1: No PovertySDG 2: Zero HungerSDG 3: Good Health and Well-beingSDG 4: Quality EducationSDG 5: Gender EqualitySDG 6: Clean Water and SanitationSDG 7: Affordable and Clean EnergySDG 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthSDG 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureSDG 10: Reduced InequalitySDG 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesSDG 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionSDG 13: Climate ActionSDG 14: Life Below WaterSDG 15: Life on LandSDG 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsSDG 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goals


As previously mentioned, the OUI departs from the basis of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda values. For this task, initial analysis has been advanced for the OUI at hand, in this case, the Agora Caribe, which summarizes a combination of factors and/or indicators that will contribute to the compliance and implementation of the SDGs. In the first place, with regards to the SDGs 1, 8 & 9, there is a proposal for the area to focus the resources on the diversification and development of productivity, based on the business development oriented towards ecotourism. On a similar note, it is necessary to highlight two points: Firstly, the creation of about 14.400 direct employment opportunities during the construction phase, in conjunction with the construction of around 102,000 squared meters of areas destinated to productive and business activities with aims related to culture and tourism. On the other hand, with regards to the SDG 5 & 10, it can be mentioned the creation of spaces conceived with a nature of accessibility and equity for the different groups of the Samarian city. These spaces include developing activities that will allow the emergence of economic sectors and formal services to promote quality-of-life indicators in the region based on a model of social inclusion for all citizens. Concerning the SGDs 6, 7, 13 &15, the infrastructure to develop will promote and prioritize those projects with a sustainable nature, laying out the beginning instructions that include and embrace these guidelines. Therefore, the main points of departure have been the integration of renewable energies, sustainable means of transportation (train-tram), and an approach that allows conserving the natural elements, prioritizing their continuity and preservation. This last point would be achieved, for instance, through the different proposed ecological/touristic corridors, in addition to the transformation of the current mainline of the Caribbean into an ecoboulevard. Eventually, concerning SDG 11, which is contemplated as a primary target by UN-Habitat, is addressed by the incorporation of efficient urbanism, both social and environmental. In this regard, priority will be given to the ecosystemic recovery and the conservation of the resources. For instance, Agora Caribe, the OUI selected, will provide around 25.4 hectares of public, inclusive, and safe space while promoting sustainable mobility through a train-tram and maritime transport.


Track 2

Risks and Limitations

What are the key risks, constraints and dependencies related to the project?

What are the key risks, constraints and dependencies related to the project?

The main risks of the project are related to the establishment of adequate conditions to boost the investment actors during the initial stages of the implementation, and the inadequate participation of the private investment sector. The factors that predetermine or restrict the early participation of the private sector in urban interventions like the one at hand are generally associated to:
• Lack of trust in an adequate and appropriate public management
• Delay in the red tape
• Lack of successful experiences in private-public strategic partnerships with regards to urban development projects
• Lack of confidence in institutional capacities
• Lack of confidence in public financial capacities

Additionally, the real estate pressure becomes a risk as it looks to maximize the buildability to the detriment of the urban habitat quality.

To mitigate these potential risks coming from the factors mentioned above, an initial public investment is proposed on the land and on monetary and institutional resources that allow the development of research and promote the projects in its quest to obtain resources and initiate the infrastructure work. Under these criteria, initial public participation is assumed, which corresponds to the contribution of land and intangible assets, such as the Partial Plan and the availability of infrastructure and essential services.

Risk mitigation and continuity

• Speed up and prioritize the public investment in the initial phase of the intervention (prior to the electoral process), especially the infrastructure and public space. Additionally, this decision will stimulate the developmental sector and/or private investors.
• Maximize the private investment in the implemented projects under public-private partnership models.
• Using the Land Management tools included in the legal system which provide great protection to the project (Parcial Plans).
• Committing other Government levels and financing actors and civil society could validate the transparency in the implementation processes.
• Strengthening the Management Unit of the OUI, in this case, the Public Entity for Urban Sustainable Development – EDUS.


Funding Goal


The total investment required for the pre-feasibility, feasibility, and execution of the project amounts to US$359,700,000.

The estimated budget for of Agora Caribe prior to its execution amount to 21.316.740 USD, out of which 1.311.300 USD come from the public pre-investment and contemplate the pre-feasibility research and the urbanistic design corresponding to the prioritized area of intervention.

Type of Investment

Equity; Grant

Financing Structure

Public Private Partnership

Secured Investment

The resources destined so far for the project amount to 760.000 USD, out of which the City Hall of Santa Marta has provided 380.000 USD, and UN-Habitat has provided 380.000 USD. The entirety of the resources is destined for development and preliminary research formulation for comprehensive urban operations in two areas of Santa Marta: Pozos Colorados and Interpuertos. This research and implementation of the OUI methodology included the characterization of the areas defined by the Territorial Law Plan of Santa Marta (current document or the document to be approved), the use and management of the land, the socioeconomic aspects, the physicalenvironmental dimensions of the Operations, the legal framework and the governance structure. It also includes data gathering, geographical and land registry information, creating a repository, actor mapping, and analysis from the public and private sectors. Additionally, it will also be part of this methodology the urban interventions definition, the government scheme, and the financial structuring of the Comprehensive Urban Solutions.

Committed Government Funding

The resources already destined for the project amount to 380.000 USD from the municipality of Santa Marta, a subnational entity, a quantity provided in December 2019. The totality of this sum is destined to the development formulation and preliminary research for the OUI in two areas of Santa Marta: Pozos Colorados and Interpuertos. The project relies on a large quantity of public land (the District’s property) where the project is being developed constituted on the main contribution (towards the PPP association models), sources of financing, and public intervention guarantee.

Committed Private Funding



Technical Support Required

The next step consists of the development of a pre-feasibility phase that includes the following aspects:
• Progress in the technical design.
• Pre-feasibility of the OUI portfolio includes the following issues: Approval of the OUI certificate of incorporation, incentive, resource allocation plan, and structuring of the OUI management unit. Subsequently, the structuring of the project portfolio, which contains: the socialization of the preliminary design, the updating of the management and business model, the development of the urbanistic proposal/partial plan, and the finance and hiring method of each project.

Once the mentioned phases are finalized, the pre-feasibility of the projects will be addressed in which three pillars will be defined:

1) Management plan definition of each preliminary design
1.1) Development of the preliminary designs: Urban architectonic designs encompassing technical, social, financial, legal, commercial, managerial, and communications aspects.

2) Structuring of the portfolio
2.1) Risk definition of the project
2.2) Portfolio Strategic Plan definition.
2.3) Portfolio Management Plan definition

3) Analysis and approval of the public, private and APP proposals.
3.1) Preliminary design and portfolio approval
3.2) Project adjustments
3.3) Resource allocation
3.4) Partial Plan approval

After having fulfilled the requirements and the pre-feasibility phases above described for which the support of the CIF from the current application is expected, the project will be ready to progress into the feasibility and execution stage.


Governmental Buy-in

At the national level, we count on the Housing, City, and Territory Ministry.
• Environment and Sustainable Development Ministry.
• Transport Ministry.
• National Planification Department.

At the subnational level, the entities supporting the project are:
• Municipality of Santa Marta.
• Planification Office of the Magdalena Regional Government.
• Infrastructure Directorate of the Magdalena region.

Other Forms of Governmental Support

Within the implementation framework of the project, high-level meetings have taken place with several Units and National Government Ministries, such as the Housing, City and Territory Ministry and the Transport Ministry, in which the relevance of the project was highlighted, allowing these actors to show interest in the conceptualization made and in the subsequent development phases of the project. In this regard, this project could become a precedent for replications in other cities of Colombia.

The National Government has attempted to involve other financing actors, such as the Inter-American Development Bank and Camacol, actors that would contribute to executing the required constructions and research to consolidate the OUI.

National Ministries Involved

- Ministry of Housing, City and Territory
- Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development
- Ministry of Transportation
- National Planning Department

SubNational Ministries Involved

- Municipality of Santa Marta
- Planification Office of the Magdalena Regional Government
- Infrastructure Directorate of the Magdalena region

Other Entities Involved

- Secretariat of Economic Development and Competitiveness of Santa Marta
- Secretariat of Planning of Santa Marta

Licenses and Permits

The project does not have the required permits and licenses to operate due to it is in its conceptualization phase.


Supporting Documents

No supporting documents included.