Thursday, February 14, 2013



Note: of interest mostly to us locals

Homes-business complex to span 3 miles along border


A section of the Puerta de Anza housing project already is in place
near Nogales, Sonora, and plans call for thousands of more homes. The
affordable-housing development hopes to incorporate business and
manufacturing as well.
9 hours ago • Gabriela Rico Arizona Daily Star(8) Comments
Nogales, Sonora's first master-planned community has residents
flocking to the affordable-housing development, creating a critical
mass that is now attracting retail and industrial investment.

Five years into the 20-year residential, commercial and industrial
project, Puerta de Anza recently signed a lease for its first grocery
store and is in talks with a manufacturer to open a plant inside the
development, where it will be close to the 15,000 current residents
and potential employees.

Eleven siblings from Hermosillo, Sonora, make up the development
company, Grupo Garcia de Leon, and future plans call for a new port
of entry from the United States into the community.

"They are creating the future of Nogales," said Mike Hammond,
president and CEO of Picor Commercial Real Estate Services in Tucson,
who has signed on to recruit industry into the development.

"I've been going to meetings for 20 years about how to develop
Nogales and find ways to bypass downtown," he said. "It was largely a
waste of my time.

"Now these guys come along. They've got the land, the money and the
vision," Hammond said. "I'm putting my eggs in that basket."

Some believe the project has the potential to lure more Fortune 500
companies to the city, which currently boasts eight.

"With Puerta de Anza, Nogales will become a city that attracts
foreign investment because a big motivation for manufacturers is to
have a labor force close by," said Manuel Hopkins Ruiz, the city's
economic development director. "Nogales will be considered a major
player in the 'Sun Corridor.' "

Flat Area Noticed

A flight over the swath of land bordering the United States more than
a decade ago sparked the idea for the development.

Raymundo Garcia de Leon was intrigued by the location and flatness of
the land, said his brother Fernando Garcia de Leon.

Because of the way the rail line was constructed, when a train rolls
through, Nogales, Sonora, is literally split in half until the
locomotive moves on.

With support from the federal, state and municipal governments, Grupo
Garcia de Leon obtained land on the city's east side to connect the
highway and rail from the main lines into Puerta de Anza.

Along with investment partners, the family is building residential
properties at the rate of 1,000 to 2,000 a year. The development
already has five convenience stores. Now the Mexican grocery store
chain Santa Fe Supermarket has its first store under construction.

Negotiations are almost complete for the announcement of a
manufacturing plant that will open in the development, Garcia de Leon

The ambitious siblings envision there will be demand for a port of
entry for U.S. tourists to enter Puerta de Anza to visit the planned
medical tourism hubs, shopping centers and restaurants.

In its entirety, the development is 2,550 acres and shares 3 1/2
miles of border with the United States.

To date, 173 acres have been developed with an investment of about
$65 million from Grupo Garcia de Leon, its partners and government

Puerta de Anza is operated by the company Dixus Inmobiliaria, which
is one of 13 companies owned by Grupo Garcia de Leon in Sonora and
Baja California. Seven of those are residential projects. The rest
are service-related.

Community Focus

Beyond affordable housing and a concentrated workforce, developers
wanted to create community bonds.

A clubhouse for students to do homework after school or dance, paint
or play sports has a full-sized gymnasium and soccer field. Study
labs are outfitted with sleek computers, and kids get limited access
to the Internet for research.

There is a neighborhood watch program and a homeowners' association,
which is teaching residents about keeping their property clean.
Hanging laundry over front balconies, for example, is frowned upon.

The development is solar-powered, has underground utilities and is
storing reclaimed water for future use in lakes and waterfalls.

More than 90 percent of the residents work in the manufacturing

The average resident earns about $500 a month, and the mortgages on
the 3,800 existing homes range from $70 to $80 a month. The
affordable prices are possible because of federal funding.

When fully built out, the development will have 22,000 homes
clustered around retail centers, industrial parks and open space.

Puerta de Anza is one of only eight developments in the country to
receive DUIS certification - a federal designation for integrated,
sustainable urban developments.

"These are humble people who have never lived in homes such as
these," Garcia de Leon said. "Many moved here from shacks in the hills.

"We began with the residents, then retail followed and now industry
is interested because of the workforce," he said. "We like the social-
impact aspect."

On StarNet: View more photos of Puerta de Anza at

Did you know?

The Puerta de Anza development is named after Juan Bautista de Anza,
who was captain of the small presidio of Tubac, Sonora (now Arizona).
In 1774, he became the first European to establish an overland route
from Mexico through the Sonoran Desert to the Pacific coast of

Source: University of Oregon

Learn more

For more information on the Puerta de Anza project, email Fernando
Garcia de Leon at or call the office in
Hermosillo, Sonora. From the U.S., dial 011-52-662-217-5160.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at or 573-4232.

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