What’s Going On At The East Cape?

Still pretty much nothing. Oh, except for the Cryin’ Mayan mega resort finally under construction. That’ a big thing.
BY: EDGAR GONZALEZ

We talked to Jim Hart, a Californian who has lived on the East Cape for longer than we’ve been going up there, which in itself is more than 20 years. Since 1986 he’s made his living as a Realtor, so he has a lot of inside scoop on what’s going on. He owns Vantage Realty.

What is the East Cape to you?

I have loved the East Cape since I was surfing in the 80s here. I loved it initially because it is so close to California and yet it’s like being on the moon.  It was just a little thread on the road that would take you out on a loop. We would stop at the ranches to buy goat cheese or get help to fix a tire.  You could get stranded for a day or two before somebody would pass by to help you.  Camping on the beaches was always a huge attraction.

(This is mostly restricted now as barb wire fences have gone up seemingly everywhere, as land gets more expensive in a country with outrageous squatting rights)

I've always wanted to see East Cape development happen in an organized manner. My concern for the future is big developments coming in and not being good stewards of the land and to the environment. We have the aquifers that thread down from the mountains and into these underground caverns along the coast line. And they are susceptible to being tainted primarily by the large communities we see coming. I think it is very important the government regulates the waste water and drainage. With new developments we're going to see some big changes. Up until now it's been very rustic.

Where do you see the East Cape in 10 years?

I think we're going to see changes happen at an exponential rate. In the last 5 years we have seen more growth than in the previous 30. All the way from the new marina in La Ribera heading down this direction. And now electricity is coming down too. With destination resorts being built, we are going to start seeing infrastructure of electricity and running water coming.

The charm of the East Cape can never be replaced. It's been here forever but my concern is the change is going to be dramatic. For example look at the corridor, look at how the hotels are sprouting up with timeshare and all inclusive hotels. The local community will not receive the rewards of all the people coming in, unlike in normal hotels where people go out and explore and spend.

My concern is for the people. What are they getting with all these people coming in. What's the benefit? I see people only surviving. I don't see people thriving with businesses, restaurants, gift shops, little places that you see in other parts of Mexico.

Have you seen any construction being done at the Grand Luxe Vidanta resort? (a Mayan Palace property)

The new road they built is a good example of what to expect. It's all paved and it’s like a very modern organized entrance to a modern California resort. And it's going to have a main avenue that goes down into the community, and up on the ridge they built a closing room. They shuttle people out from their hotel in San Jose, and once they get them in front of this panoramic view, they hardly need a  sales pitch. We can only imagine the closing average.

(The company will not talk to us, they would only try to promote their restaurants. They may be keeping their plans private because another resort that tried to come in was voted down because locals thought it was too big and would be an assault on the environment.)

From what I have seen, they also want to put a beach club down on the south part, which borders the Santa Cruz community, and they want to allow access through that community. So right now there's some controversy about allowing public access from one community to the other, which is something we can discuss at another point.  I think the main concern is privacy, from those people who own beautiful homes at the north end of Santa Cruz who may not want timeshare folks traipsing through.

If you stop on that corner, down by the beach in Santa Cruz where the Vidanta project is being built, you can see a huge building under construction, a high rise timeshare hotel. I know they are trying to build one of the world’s largest swimming pools.

I have my own fantasy of what would come to be: A community in the back, maybe even private air strip for shuttle planes to the airport. It is quite possible with all the land they have. I see at least two hotels in there with homes for sale on the hillside. I think they'll have a community of employees in the back.

We're going to be seeing more of this type of communities coming in. But the reason why this Vidanta project I believe will be successful is because of its proximity to San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. Plus they are planning to build a highway coming from the airport, one that comes down the Palo Escopeta road. They´re in preliminary stages, physically surveying the road

This is going to affect desert land properties. I think initially locals will be happy because it will give them access, and commercial opportunities. But we need to be very careful and preplan because we don't want pollution. The aquifer is here and it's what's feeding the environment.

Is this a government project or is it privately funded?

It's a combination. But I would say it's (mainly) the Vidanta people, they're the ones that want that road obviously, because you need to have direct and convenient access to this community. This is a big project and it's going to be carrying thousands of people (to the resort) so it really does need its own road.

Jim Hart’s Vantage Real Estate company has an office at the gateway to the East Cape, at the roundabout on the edge of La Playita, behind the marina, on the old road across the arroyo that was closed when the bridge went up.