Thursday, July 31, 2008

Caution: Construction Ahead

When we bought our property in 2001 the lot next door to us was vacant. During the next three years, we built our house and the lot next door to us was still vacant. The owner, a cousin to our housekeeper’s husband and a San Pancho resident, offered to sell it to us every year.

Seven years ago, it was $30,000 USD; then $50,000; then $80,000... We would make an offer, he’d up the price, we would make another offer, and the price would go up again. Eventually we gave up.

Property values are a topic near and dear to the hearts of people in San Pancho. Real estate offices line Avenida Tercer Mundo, the main street in town. Rivera Nayarit, the State of Nayarit’s ambitious resort development plan, is full speed ahead. A bright pink “Cultural Center” (read, sales office) compliments of Lemmus Corporation squats squarely on the new malecon, our ocean-front plaza. Oh, and the new malecon? It was a gift to the town, in part, by another development group!

So, we weren’t completely surprised to hear that we’d be getting our own development right next door. The owner decided not to sell his lot after all, but to build instead. And that’s when the information stream got muddy.

At various times we heard he was building a two- story house with a palapa (thatched palm) roof. We heard he was planning rental units; two units, then four, then six. As is typical in our neighborhood, everyone knew something, and no one really knew anything.

We watched with trepidation as the construction began and the building began to take shape just inches from our garden wall. Every day we’d assess the progress and second guess the design. We could greet the workers each morning by simply stepping out of our kitchen door.

The building’s setback from the street suggested a parking area in the front. That’s good, we thought and we were encouraged. An attractive, well- thought- out apartment building might be just fine.

But then, activity began at the rear of the lot next to our kitchen window. A beautiful shade tree disappeared.

“More building, another apartment?” we asked.

“Yes,” our housekeeper said.

“No,” her husband said, “a laundry room.”

“Which is it?” we asked again. Shoulders shrugged.

When the roof for the first floor was poured we watched in awe as a modern-day concrete truck mixed the concrete and a huge chute completed the pouring in less than three hours.

We waited and waited. Weeks went by. Surely the concrete must be set by now. Work on the second story could begin anytime. But it didn’t. And then we left San Pancho for our trip back to the States.

“What’s happening next door to us?” we incessantly asked in emails to friends.

“Nothing,” they said. “It looks the same as when you left.”

A sense of relief, albeit temporary, prevails. Maybe there won’t be a second floor after all, or a palapa top. Or it won’t be rental units. Who knows? The only given in our burgeoning real estate/construction environment is surprise.

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