Against All Odds
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Monterrey currently experiences an investment boom in real estate developments. Residential vertical developments, office buildings, shopping centers, mixed-use developments, state government buildings, a river walk, and a new soccer stadium are among the array of construction sites that have popped up in Monterrey’s urban landscape in recent years. It is estimated that in 2012 alone over 2 billion dollars were invested in different projects by foreign investors throughout Monterrey metropolitan area and especially in Valle Oriente, in the San Pedro municipality. The developments continue in 2013 much against the organized crime violence the city has lived in the last three years. Some local investors preferred to leave the city and moved to San Antonio or Houston while others have decided to stay and fight for the city’s future. Among the ones staying is Lorenzo Zambrano, the CEO of Cemex, the third world largest cement company and the biggest construction company. Those who wanted to leave and could dispose of $100, 000 to invest quickly had investor’s visas granted in the U.S.
Monterrey and the municipality of San Pedro Garza García have long been México’s richest area based on per capita income. The Monterrey metropolitan area is home to local and foreign multinational companies. San Pedro is still today the richest city in all Latin America with a level of development equal or better than some European cities. It was there where Valle Oriente began to take shape during the 1990s. The area was reserved for houses on the one hand and office buildings and retail developments on the other hand but developers in the real estate market required separate permits; as a consequence only few mid to high rise buildings were built there. Among them are Torre Comercial América and the Avanlanz tower [formerly Dataflux]. It was in 2008 that San Pedro’s city council approved the change in the use of land to mixed-use for Valle Oriente and other neighborhoods, anticipating the development the sector would have with the measure.[i] Ever since the new regulation was approved, mid to high rise developments have multiplied especially in the form of vertical housing or condominiums and full mixed-use (retail, residential, office) buildings. No longer was Valle Oriente going to see one or two story houses on one side and office and retail developments on the other side. Valle Oriente runs along Lázaro Cárdenas Avenue and the extended area goes all the way east to Monterrey on the same street for about seven miles. The avenue was nicknamed Las Torres by local residents because tall power line towers ran along it; coincidentally, the site has truly become a place for towers.
Contrasting San Pedro, downtown Monterrey had mid rise buildings and mixed-use buildings all along. The tallest buildings were in the Monterrey municipality until the construction of Torre Comercial América and Avalanz Tower in Valle Oriente during the 1990s. Even so Monterrey itself had some mid rise developments built with Oficinas en el Parque in an area that stretches to Valle Poniente in the Santa Catarina municipality. Other mid rise vertical housing developments such as El Capitolio on top of a hill that connects Monterrey to Valle Oriente, and several hotels were built in the Galerías (San Jerónimo) area during the following years. But overall, developments in Monterrey started to decline in favor of Valle Oriente. It wasn’t until Paseo Santa Lucía (Monterrey’s river walk) materialized that the planning for new developments started as part of the renovation of the city’s infrastructure, particularly in downtown Monterrey.