Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Beach Buzz: Looking Ahead at 2010 in Rocky Point, MX

-by La Huerita

It's been a rocky year for Rocky Point (bad pun intended), what with the sour state of the economy in the USA, drug war scares and the H1N1 virus that brought tourism in Mexico to a screeching halt earlier in 2009. So what might we look forward to in 2010? Are things going to get better?

Well, it depends on who you talk to, and what you define as "better".

For instance, in an October article in De Frente, a local newspaper, Sandy Beach Resorts' Reyel Taylor Pratt was cited as anticipating that real estate development may begin to reactivate, at the latest, in the second half of 2010. He noted that the housing sector must be prepared in depth to revive its economy.

He also noted that the new Mayor, Alejndro Zepeda Munro, with the support of federal and state government, will be working hard to formulate new options to diversify the economy of Rocky Point. Diversification is particularly important since the city was so dependent upon the real estate sector in recent years, mostly investment-based, and the U.S. economic crisis thus hit Rocky Point very hard.

Among ideas for tourism and economic diversification Taylor specifically mentioned the medical sector, which has strong potential for the local economy, and talks are being resumed to set up a first class medical clinic that would attract an international market for medical tourism.

Said Taylor in the article (loosely translated into English), "We believe in the second half of 2010 the markets may improve, there are predictions that we thereby have time to consolidate and improve the infrastructure of the city better."

Personally, I'm not sanguine about the real estate market improving but I hope I'm wrong. Omega Financial, which owns the Los Corales project in the Mirador and started out the year with a spate of enthusiastic press releases, has been silent about it for several months and no progress has been seen on the ground. The five commercial land tracts that were unsuccessfully put up for auction back in May have disappeared from the auctioneer's website, but I've seen no indication that they have been sold since then. Other developers still have projects either for sale or on hold, and with many of them there is no way to know for sure if the hold is temporary or permanent.

On the other hand, it appears that the new Marriott out at the Penasco Bay project is seeing some movement, and for those with some money there are a lot of screaming good deals in real estate right now, everything from luxury condos to homes and land. Bad news for the original buyers, but good news if you're in the market for a nice place near a beach.

Meanwhile, Mayor Zepeda Munro and the Puerto Penasco City Council are taking steps to improve Penasco's infrastructure AND give it a bit of a face lift.

The City Council has approved the installation of 7,000 energy efficient street lamps, enough to light up 90 percent of the city. It is projected that energy savings could be as much as 60% over the old system, which is good both for Penasco's pocketbook and the environment. The plan still needs to be approved by the State Legislature, but it looks good.

Also approved was a measure to make owners of trashed out vacant lots get them cleaned up-- at the owners' expense. Such lots are considered a blight on the community, and I don't know anyone who would disagree on that point.

There are also ongoing plans to continue paving Rocky Point's dusty streets as money is made available, which is especially good for the reduction of breathing problems such as asthma for the inhabitants of the city.

Mayor Zepeda Munro has also announced plans to give a facelift to the entrances to the city, north and south, so that they present a more welcoming face to visitors. Can't say I'd object to that. In addition, yet another big renovation project is in motion to improve the Malecon (aka Old Port), a project worth an estimated 150 million pesos. Not to be left out, Calle 13 will also be improved, though details on that are sketchy at best.

All these things are good, but by themselves they won't do the job. Penasco must also overcome the perception that it's dangerous to travel there because of the drug wars along the borders; if the perception were to become more of a reality, all bets would be off.

In that regard, the new international airport recently opened near La Jolla de Cortes (the Mayan Palace location south of town) may prove to be especially valuable since visitors to Mexico over the last year or two generally have shown a propensity to feel safer at a fly-to resort location. Once the airport has successfully negotiated to get regular flights, tourism could pick up a bit, but that also depends on Penasco's ability to promote itself adequately to generate interest outside of Arizona. And the city will need more first class hotels, particularly with recognized brand names, since many visitors prefer hotels to condo rentals.

So overall I think the situation in 2010 may settle down a bit, and I'm ever hopeful that it will do even better than that. In the meantime, those visitors and expats who remember "the good old days" and prefer the "old" Rocky Point will have the beaches, fish tacos and laid back little fishing village to themselves for a little while longer.

And that's all the Buzz on the Beach for today.

Feliz Año Nuevo!!!

About Beach Buzz: Not necessarily the news, this is a place for information, opinion, speculation, gossip, tips and other good stuff about Rocky Point, and Mexico in general. Have opinions to air, anecdotes to share, tips or tidbits to contribute? I'd like to hear from you!

Email me: La Huerita

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