There’s been an ongoing feud between the HOA of the El Anclote Condominiums in Punta de Mita and the developers of Hotel des Artistes, a new hotel and home to the restaurant Cafes des Artistes del Mar, built on the beach at El Anclote.
In short, El Anclote owners, or “some” El Anclote owners, say that the developers have built too high. However, there is no high restriction on this beach. There is only a 3-floor restriction, but nothing about how high the three floors can be. So the developer, to get in another level, built down and put in a partial basement. This is called a “sotano” and sotano’s are not taken into consideration when calculating how big a building can be. The developer found a “loophole”. According to their building permits, what they have built is within the existing code.
But some of the owners at El Anclote, or at least the majority, don’t buy that. They think the law has been broken and are challenging it any way they can. Its been a circus. After hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on lawyer fees to try and stop the construction, El Anclote has not been successful in stopping any part of the building process. Today, it is a beautiful looking building with a wonderful Thierry Blouet restaurant and bar, gym and partial spa, hotel rooms and a roof-deck pool/lounge/bar. And they have the building permits to show that it was done legally. If you haven’t tried the restaurant, you should. Cafes des Artistes on the beach. Better yet, make it a weekend and spend the night at the hotel.
Many years ago, before the developers even began to build on this lot, I owned a condo at El Anclote located right behind this property. One day we arrived there to see that the owners with the lot next to the lot in mention, was trying to add a couple extra floors to the existing building. We started legal proceedings and from this discovered that someone could actually build higher than what this developer was trying to do, according to the way the bylaws were written up. Wanting an ocean view, we sold our unit (we disclosed to the new owner that someone could, and most likely would, build even higher on the next lot), and bought a penthouse unit. So we have known for years that this could indeed, be done. But a few people want to somehow change all that. And so far they haven’t had much luck.
But they aren’t quitting yet. The El Anclote HOA’s most recent endeavor is a lawsuit against the developers for infringing on the maritime zone, and they want the building torn down. Yes, torn down. Having not won on the basis that they had built too high (which they didn’t), they want to try and have the building torn down because they think they have not calculated how much they can actually build on this lot.
Its a stretch. Buildings don’t get torn down very often in Mexico. But that’s not the point here. The point is that, just because they couldn’t win on the point that was most important to them, that the developer had built too high, they have hired a fancy lawyer from Mexico City to come up with some other obscure rationalization of why the building shouldn’t be there, and are now spending a lot of money to defend their position.
Rather than spending the money on lobbying the government to change the bylaws so no other developer on this beach will build higher than they want, they are going to try and have this building, with close to US$8 million invested and that has all of its building permits in order, torn down.
The developers have returned with their own lawsuit against El Anclote for US$2 million for damages they have incurred through lost sales because of the actions of El Anclote. Both lawsuits are now underway and involve a lot of money on both sides in legal fees.
There are no winners here except the lawyers. If any of these owners at El Anclote had taken the time to read the bylaws (which we did and that’s why we sold and got out of there), they would have understood this. They are trying to change something according to their rules, rules that have never existed.
It has turned owner against owner at El Anclote. Its “Your either with us or against us” as the mantra for those for this lawsuit. This used to be a wonderful place to live – that’s not the case anymore. More than 25% of the units are “unofficially” up for sale. I say “unofficially” because its a little difficult to sell your unit when you have a US$2 million dollar lawsuit against you. You have to disclose it. And when you do, most people choose to look elsewhere. And they have plenty of options these days! Again, the only one’s winning are the lawyers.
Its a sad, but highly interesting story. I’ll keep you posted.