Our History

Carmelita Gardens is in the Belize River Valley, an area with a rich Maya history. The nearby Maya Archaeological Site of El Pilar was renowned for it’s Forest Gardeners and to this day agrarian life is a vital part of the fabric of society in the surrounding towns and villages.

Over the past century the region has been transformed from a very small population of farming families with large tracts of land to small villages. At one time there were four families that owned all the land in Santa Familia, the village in which Carmelita Gardens is located. The prominent Silva Family was one of those families.

In 2004, Dan Silva, a descendant of the early settlers, and Phil Hahn, our Town Founder, met for the first time.

Dan and Phil never imagined that when they became fast friends in 2004 that a few years later a burgeoning town would be growing on the land that Dan’s grandfather once raised dairy cows. On the land his grandfather also grew numerous plum trees, which villagers enjoyed during Sunday BBQ’s at the river. Today plum trees, BBQ’s, and river time are all traditions that we have carried on in Carmelita Gardens.


Tradition has always been important to Dan and Phil and it is a vital part of building a sustainable town. Phil has studied architecture and town planning for well over three decades and in 2009 he used that experience to design Carmelita Gardens. He incorporated timeless placemaking principles and contemporary influences to create a vision for our self-sufficient off-grid community. That vision is now a reality.

With numerous homes and residents in Carmelita Gardens the foundation has been laid and is attracting more owners and considerable international attention. We have become a leader in sustainable development and thanks to our caring and engaged residents and a thoughtful town plan Carmelita Gardens is also following the traditions of longstanding and successful communities.

An essential element of sustainable development and the health and happiness of residents is the walkability of a town. In Carmelita Gardens the Town Square is at its heart and the neighborhoods are all connected with landscaped walking paths, gardens, parks, an easy network of roads, and multiple river access points.

In addition to walkability and neighborly connections our self-sufficient and sustainable practices are an aspect that sets us apart from an ordinary “subdivision”.

The long-term vision for Carmelita Gardens is to be a vibrant small town with “Mom and Pop” shops in the Town Square, neighborhoods with independent off-grid homes, self-sufficient friendly residents, boutique riverfront resort and restaurant, civic buildings, parks and recreation areas, orchards, and gardens.

As with the history of any town it starts with pioneers, then attracts settlers, then grows with involved Founders. Carmelita Gardens has been blessed with intrepid pioneers and settlers and we are now in the growth stage and are constantly welcoming new Founders.


Daily life in Carmelita Gardens is different for everyone yet in certain ways it is similar for most. Many of our residents came to Belize for the tropical climate, freedom, and independence. They came to Carmelita Gardens for self-sufficiency and community. Those qualities inspired our town motto, «Independent Together».

The residents do many things independently, such as spend time in their backyard gardens, relax on their porch with a good book, cook and bake for themselves and for others, sew and weave, tinker with DIY projects, go for walks and swims, ride their bicycles, take care of their pets, go fishing, plant trees, and many other relaxing, healthy, and fun activities.

Then there are the things we do together, such as potluck dinners, attend our weekly Market Day, play games like chess, darts, cards, corn hole, horseshoes, etc., go canoeing, tubing, and kayaking, tutor students and learn from one another, car pool to the Farmer’s Market, stores, the airport, and other places, work on community projects together, take outings to the mountains, beaches, fishing, and other great destinations, as well as countless other helpful, entertaining, and joyful things.

As our community grows new interests and opportunities will naturally come along with that growth. It is exciting to think about the things that are yet to come and the nearly unlimited possibilities for Carmelita Gardens and its residents. Our experience with residents and friends of Carmelita Gardens is that this truly is a Land of Opportunity and a place to make lifelong friends and memories.

Our team

We are fortunate to have a dedicated and experienced team inspired by the Carmelita Gardens vision and mission. They are enthusiastic about being part of a legacy project that is being built sustainably for our owners, residents, guests, and for future generations.

Meet our Carmelita Gardens Team:

Phil Hahn: Town Founder and Developer

Phil Hahn: Town Founder and Developer

Phil began his career in Tallahassee, Florida in 1986 and has always been passionately focused on architecture and real estate. He has owned and operated residential design, construction, and development companies in Florida and Belize, a ranch in Arizona, and real estate, sales and marketing companies in Belize. Over the years he has provided land planning, design, and consulting services for multiple international companies and real estate development projects. In 2009 Phil planned Carmelita Gardens with an innovative approach, “Artisan Urbanism”, which he created based on inspiration from New Urbanism, Sustainability, and Jeffersonian Yeoman-ship. He is now building the Carmelita Gardens with his Artisan Urbanism philosophy, which asserts that residents, entrepreneurs, and artisanal enterprises provide purpose, sustainability, and resilience for small towns and are the foundation of self-sufficient communities. Phil received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Florida State University and is Certified by the Institute of Classical Architecture.

Tim Parr: Site Manager

To know Carmelita Gardens is to know Tim Parr and vice versa. Tim has welcomed every guest, resident, and staff member to Carmelita Gardens and has been the ‘go-to’ man that manages the on-site operations. With three adult children “out of the nest”, Tim found himself ready to try something new. He saw an opportunity to engage in an exciting career as well as work with Phil, who has been a good friend of Tim’s for twenty plus years. He packed up, with the help of his 4 year old yellow lab Lucy, and flew down to live at Carmelita Gardens. Tim worked as the General Manager for a prominent BBQ restaurant chain for eighteen years; running five different locations, including the top volume store in the chain. He also worked as the head chef at a large independent restaurant, and then opened his own cafeteria style restaurant. With 35 years in the food industry, he has gained invaluable experience. For Tim, the bottom line is that people and their abilities are the difference between success or failure in business. He feels that the truly successful business owners recognize this and surround themselves with quality, like-minded people at all levels, all with a common goal. He believes in the Carmelita project and we count ourselves lucky to have Tim, a genuine, hardworking, honest man, as a part of our team.

Tim Parr: Site Manager

Rosalio Eliezer Penados: Draftsman

In 2003, I could not have imagined the journey and the direction my life would take when I graduated with an Associate’s degree in Architectural Technology from the University of Belize. I was accepted to work at Strukture Architets; a well-respected and reputable architectural firm in Belize City. The three years of practical and theoretical experiences at this firm paved the way for the next chapter in my life. I then transitioned from Strukture Architects more experienced and more knowledgeable to become an instructor at ITVET in San Ignacio. I imparted this knowledge to our vocational students for eleven years. I was proud to see some of them becoming professionals in our field. During this time, I was able to perform free-lance services while working for Usher and Associates on a part time basis. I was eager for continued growth and more experience. I had served my community as an instructor. I then transitioned from an instructor to the architectural and construction field with DIEMA Consulting Architects and Engineers. All these experiences then opened the door for the position of Senior Building Inspector at the San Ignacio and Santa Elena Building Unit “SISEBU”. At SISEBU, I was in charge of reviewing plans, issuing of permits and stop orders. Finally, I decided to move to a new adventure and joined the team at Carmelita Gardens. Here at Carmelita Gardens the future is bright with many properties to be developed and literally green with the color of nature, off grid and cistern filled with natural water.

Rosalio Eliezer Penados: Draftsman

Alisa Khaertdinova: Business & Marketing

Alisa Khaertdinova:  Business & Marketing

Here you go

Wade Hahn: Community Experience Director

Wade Hahn: Community Experience Director

As one of our most recent additions to the Carmelita Gardens Team, Wade began working full time for the project in May. Although he is one of our newest and youngest members, Wade has been involved with Belize for close to nine years. As the son of Carmelita creator Phil Hahn, Wade has been able to watch the evolution of Carmelita Gardens from a simple idea to the developing community it’s become today. Wade took his first step onto Belizean soil in 2004. As an 8th grader, he took the year off from public school to home-school with his father. Trips to Belize, experiencing the lush climate and unique culture, were only part of his education. From a young age, Wade has had many experiences that have shaped him into the man he is today, instilling a drive for adventure and a passion for learning and seeing new things. He has worked as a server in two busy Orlando restaurants, was accepted to the Florida State University Film School, received the rank of Eagle Scout in 2009, and worked countless hours with a handful of non-profit organizations. He grew up in the youth group at St. Paul’s.

Scout: Community Greeter
Oreo: Grass Trimming Specialist