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Residential Boom in Baja Benefiting North-of-Border Economy

Development in Baja California is big business for San Diego.

Baja Diamante, a $2 billion mixed-use residential project in San Felipe, is just one of many projects cropping up in Northern Baja, which is pumping millions of dollars into San Diego’s economy.

Located on 444 acres along the east coast on the Sea of Cortez, Baja Diamante features an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, 350-slip boat marina, condominiums, homes and villas, plus tons of community luxury features.

Home buyers are looking for the quality materials and high-end amenities they find in their own luxury homes in Southern California, according to Baja Diamante’s developer.

With San Diego close by, much of the construction materials and appliances are bought north of the border.

“All of our homes are literally handmade, but we want the comfort of the American product so people know the quality behind them,” said Armando Ramos Jr., representing Baja Diamante.

He said Baja Diamante spent $2 million in construction materials at San Diego Home Depot stores last year alone and purchased all kitchen materials and appliances from Chula Vista’s Sammy’s Kitchen.

Ramos said that since buyers are largely Californians, they must think internationally when building and providing features in the homes.

“We can have the best of American things and Mexican things,” said Ramos.

In just over a year, the number of detached units in inventory has doubled, while the number of attached units has tripled.

Eric Roddy, of La Mesa, purchased a home as an investment in April 2006.

Roddy said he was attracted to Baja Diamante for its unobstructed 180-degree views of the Sea of Cortez, plus closeness to the golf course, as well as the convenience of being just a few hours away from San Diego.

Roddy also said he had confidence in the developer, Armando Ramos Sr., owner and president of Baja Diamante and Grupo Construction. He is renowned for putting San Felipe on the map with his successful development of timeshare properties in 1992.

In addition, the San Diego resident is known by his California and Baja business associates for his work as president of the San Felipe Developers Association and for his leadership in the expansion of the highway that leads to San Felipe from the border.

Roddy said Grupo Construction had a proven track record for completing projects and honoring commitments.

“This made me feel that my investment was low risk and that getting in at the beginning would probably mean that my investment would have an attractive appreciation,” he said.

Prudential California Realty also sees the potential as San Felipe becomes the next hot spot in Mexico.

Prudential formed a northern Baja unit late last year to handle sales throughout the northern half of Baja after successful sales efforts with single family and multi-family homes in Cabo San Lucas, Loreto Bay and Puerto Vallarta.

Prudential opened the new office in January in Rosarito Beach and anticipates opening another 30 to support growth as the region’s population expands.

“San Felipe is the next major area for upscale development in all of Baja California,” said Prudential’s Wayne Cobb.

He noted that more than half of the condo units have sold at Baja Diamante. Cobb said buyers are purchasing in Baja for the surroundings as well as the investment possibilities.

“The biggest thing we are selling here is lifestyle,” he said.

Developers want to market their Mexico projects across the border, so they spend large amounts of money on marketing to reach buyers such as Roddy.

Baja Diamante selected the San Diego-based Monday Group for sales and marketing efforts in March.

The Monday Group launched its Baja Monday unit to specialize in the marketing real estate developments in Baja.

“This opportunity allows us to define the division for this first of a kind development with distinct villas and condos and northern Baja’s first Nicklaus design golf course,” said Kimberly Monday, president of Baja Monday.

Baja Diamante is not the only development with strong ties to San Diego.

Baja Resort Advisors, a Sorrento-based housing and resort development firm, has been building in Baja for three decades. The local developers recently acquired the Falls at Puerto Nuevo, a 94-unit condominium project in Baja California 25 miles south of the border.

Gabriel V. Robles, managing partner of the business, announced the signing of the agreement with project owners Feb. 1 and estimates the construction to be completed by August 2009.

“There is a lot of links between the two economies,” said Robles.

Most significantly are the buyers, largely residents of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, he said.

Baja Resort Advisors uses many American-made or American-recognized brands in developing projects and used several San Diego companies for sales, marketing and financing services.

“There is a local firm in Del Mar called Finance North America that provides 30-year financing for buyers,” he said.

Robles also said that his company’s San Diego address is helping build confidence in buyers.

“We create confidence in our buyers, we let them know who we are, we let them know who the developer is, we show them our resume, we show them our background,” he said.

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