Scharloo Abou as a district has a long history. In the old days it was a neighborhood where wealthy families constructed big villas in the colonial style. After a period of decay and neglect, came a period of restorations and renovations. In the eighties Scharloo Abou became the place of choice for a lot of established businesses. They choose to open their offices here because they liked the prestige and style that these old monuments reflected. In the twentieth century the neighborhood is still a prime location for organizations that want more than just a simple office space. To contribute to Curacao’s rich history in trade and future development is often a goal that these organisations aspire. By housing their office in these buildings it is a way to contribute and keep the islands historic history alive.
On initiative of the Minister of Economic Development and Dutch Representative in Willemstad this part of Willemstad was appointed as a focus area for further development. The potential to grow into the creative district of Curaçao was seen as a viable and attractive option. The vision of growing Curacao’s economy via investing in its Creative Economy is put into perspective. By focussing on attracting creatives to this part of Scharloo Abou for work and living, the neighborhoods dynamics can change in a new direction. By creatives was meant creatives in the broadest sense. Intentions to attract people working in the creative industry, film business and media productions to this part of Curacao were communicated. Considering the amount of buildings that are uninhabited or in need of renewal, there is room for growth. In 2016 under the name “New breeze on Bitterstraat” the first steps were taken. Strategic and urban development play a key role in the ideas behind its conception.
Scharloo Abou lies west of Scharloo and across from Punda. This district has become more popular the last years as an investment opportunity or location to start a business. We can speak of a revival of a part of our historic city Willemstad. If we compare the prices of real estate to other similar locations that went through the same process in development, Scharloo Abou can be considered as a great investment opportunity in Real Estate. The developments in Pietermaai is are a great example of how Scharloo Abou can grow into a modern district with a fresh breeze. Scharloo Abou is more centrally located between Punda and Scharloo. With the recent addition of the Amalia bridge there are now a total 3 bridges that connects Punda directly to the center of Scharloo Abou. This greatly increased the amount of visitors to this part of Willemstad. On the wharf, known as Kleine Werf or Kop van Scharloo, Curacao Port Authority plans to start an interesting development project. It consists of among other a big waterfront apartment complex and space for commercial rent at ground level. These are a few of the new initiatives that have or will have impact on the growth of the district.
The business activity in this neighborhood is growing. New initiatives, foundations and small to medium size businesses see this part of Willemstad as a promising place to work from. The modern shared office space Creative Lab and Work Spot have been a great catalyst in development of this location. Also the revamp of Parke Leyba has had an positive effect attracting event organizers and tourists that wander around. Street Art Skalo, a initiative formed out of love for this neighborhood and art, organized different events resulting in breathtaking murals uplifting the experience in the vicinity. Every few months a new business opens its doors here with an eye on the future.
Scharloo Abou, including adjacent neighborhood Fleur de Marie, has long had a mainly residential function before it became a more multifunctional district. In the past it consisted of mostly homes where families resided. The types of homes vary a lot between small wooden houses to big modernized villas. Certain families have occupied this part of Willemstad for decades, but this has evolved into a mixed area over the years. There is still a quiet, harmonized feel in the streets, squares and park. It is here where people from different backgrounds connect and share. Scharloo Abou is the kind of place where everybody still greets one another when passing by. In recent years living in old revived city centers has become more popular amongst young families and people with alternative approaches to living. It is also a place where artists, writers, musicians and other creatives feel at home. The livelihood that this center emits is something they enjoy and cherish.
Worldwide, as well as in Curaçao, the bigger service oriented hotels and resorts are still the acceptable business models in the hospitality industry. Though things are changing fast as new trends arise; these established models are being challenged by more modern approaches to hospitality. Boutique hotels, AirBnB vacation houses and creative hostels have gained terrain in the industry. A lot of travellers now choose more adventurous, personalized, “out of the ordinary” options when travelling, also when visiting Curaçao. To cater to this growing market the hospitality branche should keep innovating, and should consider to put more focus on things such as location, architecture and interior decoration. So that these trallevers can experience that unique feeling that they are looking for. Scharloo Abou is a viable option to consider when people want to invest in this industry. Its unique location in Willemstad, right next to Punda, close to Pietermaai and Otrabanda, its rich history, monuments, art, vibe and fresh breeze makes it a perfect fit!