September 5, 2008

Baja Housing Developments, Bust and Boom

In an unsurprising development, Baja California’s once-vaunted, US-oriented residential real estate market has ground to a virtual halt, according to a high-ranking Mexican official.

“Some are important investments such as the Trump towers or Bella Vista,” said Luis Bustamante Fernandez, director of Baja California’s Indivi state housing agency. “What’s needed is for the United States to resolve its economic problem, which will surely happen after the elections and a change of government.”

A former president of a Tijuana real estate development association, Bustamante said that 60 of 100 big residential developments in the Tijuana-Ensenada coastal corridor are paralyzed. According to the state official, investments in the neighborhood of $12 billion are in the cooler.

Undergoing a boom in recent years, the Tijuana-Ensenada corridor has been popular among US residents seeking a weekend getaway home or a new life south of the border.

While the once sizzling Baja real estate market is in the damper, big money looms from international trade. In an Ensenada ceremony last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Communications and Transportation Secretary Luis Tellez officially unveiled the massive, planned Punta Colonet international trade terminal. Protected by Mexican war ships, the federal officials detailed the magnitude of a project that could wean much of the China trade away from Long Beach and other US ports.

Slated for completion in 2020, the multi-billion dollar sea port is expected to also include an airport, rail link, warehouse facility and desalinization plant. “From here, six million containers will be moved every year,” Secretary Tellez vowed. Punta Colonet will “make the economy of Mexico dynamic,” President Calderon added.

If Punta Colonet’s promoters are on mark, the port could serve as the entry point for new trade networks across northern Mexico and into the US Midwest. Mexican environmentalists, however, have questioned the impact of the port construction and facility on a fragile ecosystem.

Reprinted from Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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