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Rocky Point Real Estate ~ Puerto Penasco Real Estate

Planning for growth

Rocky Point is planning for large-scale growth for the first time. The 77-year-old town relied on fishing and shrimping until tourism took over.

Germán and Estela Palacio, who grew up there, opened their first restaurant in May with a blessing from a priest instead of a grand opening. The two-story restaurant, called The Point, is located along the Fundadores on its own pier over the sea and includes a private meeting room where more and more business people close deals.

Boats of tourists pass by every few minutes. Neighboring furniture and decor stores, delis and real estate offices are American-owned.

For some, the town is boom-ing too fast, too soon.

“This town is growing too much,” Germán Palacio said. Development without rules will create a mess in the future, he said, and he likes the idea of a master plan – which Rocky Point does not yet have.

It may not amount to a master plan, but Mexico ‘s federal tourism development agency is launching a major, $3 million development project for Puerto Peñasco’s old port.

Fonatur, as the agency is known, is planning to put in floating docks where boaters can tie up for short periods. Nearby will be businesses offering nautical services – fuel, repairs, shopping and showers, among others.

This is the first venture into Sonora for Fonatur, said Diego Padilla, the Sonoran government’s representative in Arizona . Fonatur is best known for nearly singlehandedly creating Cancun , the Caribbean tourist destination, out of a patch of undeveloped jungle.

The agency’s Rocky Point project is part of a broader plan to create nine similar nautical service centers around the Sea of Cortez , and to otherwise facilitate eco-tourism there.

Plans are also in the works for improvements at Puerto Peñasco’s airport. Dynasty Air, a Scottsdale company, is planning to initiate flights soon from Scottsdale Air Center to Rocky Point. A seat on its nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravans will cost $279 for the round trip.

In the long term, plans for an all-new airport are in the works.

Investors build infrastructure

Mexican investors in the WorldWide Group have held the 342 acres of property at the Las Palomas golf resort development for many years, said Bob Rowe, a sales manager who moved to Puerto Peñasco 14 years ago from Las Vegas .

The Las Palomas plan includes 2,000 homes, which will bring the company $600 million in gross revenues over the eight years it will take to sell out. As of July 20, 223 condos already had been sold. The development has sold $65 million of property in seven months.

Most of the buyers are Arizona residents – about 85 percent from Phoenix and 5 percent from Tucson . Others are from California , New Mexico and Texas . Many are baby boomers who partied on the beach in their college days and are now ready to buy vacation homes on their old stomping grounds, Rowe said.

“Peñasco is experiencing an unprecedented real estate boom,” said Geoffrey Becker-Jones, a senior adviser for Laguna del Mar Development. “The U.S. investment market is looking very seriously at Peñasco.”

Laguna del Mar will include 1,750 homes on 1,350 acres. Phase one, in master planning now, is 285 acres of golf courses, condos and lagoons.

The development company is a partnership of U.S. and Mexican investors, including Alliant Energy, a Wisconsin-based energy holding company that invested in 1999. The company aimed to “leverage the significant expertise we have in developing basic, U.S.-quality utility infrastructure in a potentially high-growth resort development,” said spokeswoman Janice Mathis.

The company is lending $79 million to the developer, according to Alliant’s 2003 annual report.

Investors appreciate the affordable land prices and the consistent growth indicators, said Becker-Jones, the Laguna del Mar adviser.

“With all the money that’s coming into Peñasco, there’s an interest in improving the infrastructure,” Becker-Jones said, “but still retain the charm and interest of Peñasco.”

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