From An American Legacy in Panama: A Brief History of the Department of Defense Installations and Properties, prepared for the United States Army South through the Directorate of Engineering and Housing, United States Army Garrison-Panama, by Graves+Klein, Architects, Engineers of Pensacola, Florida:
“By the time the Panama Canal was twenty-five years old, its interoceanic commerce capacity was becoming outgrown. In 1936, the Governor of the Panama Canal Zone was authorized by Congress to investigate a plan to modernize and increase the capacity of the Panama Canal. After cost estimates and plans were drawn, a report was submitted to Congress in 1939, and the Third Locks Project was approved.
The plan basically called for the construction of a ‘third flight of locks directly alongside the existing locks.’ Excavation to expand the Miraflores Locks was begun, as was the erection of two ‘construction cities’ – Diablo on the east bank and Cocoli on the west bank – in anticipation of the influx of laborers for the project.
The Third Locks Project was abandoned in 1942 (after spending $75,000,000 on the project) due to the more pressing demands on manpower and materials associated with the United States’ entry into World War II. Although studies were made and other plans were submitted following the conclusion of war, The Third Locks Project was never executed.
The Cocoli family housing community originally consisted of two housing communities, Cocoli Gold (for U.S. citizens) and Cocoli Silver (for non-U.S. citizens). The Panama Canal constructed these communities in preparation for the expanded housing demand associated with the Third Locks Project.
The U.S. Navy acquired the Cocoli Housing Community from the Panama Canal Company in 1951, at which time the area included 360 housing units ‘and other buildings, facilities, and utility systems.’ On July 1, 1965, the U.S. Army, whose housing requirements had increased, received Cocoli from the Navy. At the time of the transfer, the Cocoli Housing Community included 275 housing units ‘and other building.’ While documentation is unclear as to why the number of housing units decreased between the transfers, most likely termites and fire took their toll on the wood-frame buildings.”