The Resurgence of Mixed-Use Developments in Puerto Vallarta

Mixed-use buildings are nothing new; for years, it was common for city buildings to have shops and businesses on the ground floor, providing products and services to the community. However, segregating urban areas into residential, commercial and other zones became the trend in urban planning in past decades. This trend is visible in Puerto Vallarta, where there are still mixed-use buildings in the more traditional neighborhoods, but new subdivisions were developed as purely residential, with commercial and business areas built on land considerably removed from the developments.

In the last decade, however, mixed-use development has resurfaced, but with new features, in areas such as Colonia Emiliano Zapata, primarily in the Romantic Zone, where numerous residential buildings with commercial premises have already been built or are planned, imparting a new verticality to the previous panorama and a regenerative effect on the surrounding streets, aesthetically modernizing the area, including new features and green areas, and promoting the arrival of new businesses with a higher socioeconomic profile.

According to architect and urbanist Alberto Reyes, general director of Laboratorio de Arquitectura Mexicana, “This phenomenon is present in urban areas in many parts of the world, and despite having similar characteristics in architectural design, the impact at the urban level is extremely complex.” With 10 years of experience in urban and architectural design and planning, Reyes says that some of the benefits of this type of vertical and mixed-use planning are “the diversity of land use (commercial and residential in one place), extended hours of activity in the area, increased property tax revenue per square foot and the maximization of useful areas.”

Many experts declare that well-executed mixed-use developments can become an integral part of the community, a type of anchor, creating places where people can live, work, have fun and carry out daily activities without leaving the area. This type of multipurpose building can encourage the development of areas with greater residential and commercial density, reduced vehicular traffic—since, ideally, residents and visitors do not need vehicles for many activities—and principally imprint a strong sense of community identity among residents and merchants in the area. In addition, many of these developments built in recent years have incorporated the new trends in bio-construction and energy efficiency, making them elements of considerable sustainability.

Mixed-Use Developments in Puerto Vallarta

Jorge Guillén, a prominent real estate agent at Tropicasa Realty, says there have always been mixed-use buildings in our city, but lately, areas with a higher demand for business, such as the Romantic Zone and the Marina, is where this type of building has been seen.

Guillén notes that “there is a particular quadrant where I think the phenomenon is happening, specifically the area south of the Cuale River, where people like to walk, shop and find out what’s on the next block. An example is what is happening on Carranza Street, which has the potential to become a major commercial corridor with high-quality businesses and shops. Nearby, on Basilio Badillo Street, are the developments Nayri, Pacifica, Oceana … and in the future, more can be built. On Carranza, Zenith is already there, and Urban and Pavilion are coming, among others.” Guillén says that these changes will completely revitalize this part of the city, beautifying it, fostering high-profile businesses and raising its socio-economic profile.

He adds that Puerto Vallarta already has this type of development with eco-friendly and energy-efficient elements, such as Pier 57 and Nayri. “There is a trend in construction to implement technology and incorporate environmentally friendly features such as LED lighting, solar panels, water recycling, inverter air conditioning and technology to monitor and manage lighting from a device. This would be a plus for the quality of life in the area.”

Finally, Guillén notes that another advantage for developers and the agencies that represent this sort of building is the division of risk that comes with good planning, as it allows developers to choose the type of businesses to be installed on the premises. If they are well chosen, they can have a positive economic and social impact that not only benefits the developers and residents of the building in question, but also residents, businesses and tourism in the surrounding area.