Donald Trump’s decision to lend his name to a lavish coastal condo-hotel project in Baja California brought worldwide visibility to the region’s unprecedented building boom.A sign, now tattered but shown in its better days, displayed a photo of Donald Trump and touted the development south of Tijuana.
But two years after a San Diego sales event that drew hundreds of would-be purchasers, the planned three-tower Trump Ocean Resort has yet to break ground and development has slowed along the Tijuana-Ensenada strip known as the Gold Coast. A 10-mile drive from the border, a half-dozen workers poured concrete into a trench yesterday. Orange fencing surrounded a large deep hole. A wind-tattered billboard displaying a giant photograph of Trump rose over the 17-acre site overlooking the Coronado Islands.Tijuana officials say the developer received a land use permit in 2005, allowing 526 units to be built on the property that juts out into the Pacific Ocean at Punta Bandera.But the developer has yet to receive a construction permit from Tijuana’s Urban Development Department, the key city agency that gives the go-ahead for new projects. “Going through the files, we can’t find an application,” said director Miguel Angel Zavala.So far, U.S. buyers make up more than 90 percent of the project’s clientele, said Carlos Palafox, director of development for Irongate. To date, 167 units have been pre-sold in the first tower, which will have 232 units on 26 stories and is scheduled to open at the end of 2009, about six months behind initial projections, Palafox said. Last year in Rosarito Beach, building models of the Trump Ocean Resort were displayed for prospective buyers in a sales office. About 40 percent of the space has been spoken for in the second 26-story tower. Buyers who sign a contract agree to put down 30 percent of their unit’s cost over a specified time period, Palafox said.
But with the downturn in the U.S. market, Baja California’s coastal real estate sales have fallen. Rafael Liceaga, a well-known Baja California real estate broker, said sales have fallen about 40 percent to 50 percent since the height of the boom but remain above pre-boom levels. “There continues to be much movement, many transactions,” said Eduardo Rosales, president of the Rosarito Beach branch of AMPI, a national realty agents group. Despite recent setbacks, “the location is strategic,” said Rosales. “People are investing and are going to continue to invest.”
But now a new market is developing, as buyers have begun scouting for foreclosure properties and “properties that people are trying to sell ASAP,” said Gustavo Torres, a broker in the Rosarito Beach area and vice president of the local AMPI branch.