Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Densification of Monterrey Mexico

In a recent statement from Fernando Gutiérrez Moreno, the Secretary of Sustainable Development for the State of Nuevo Leon, he estimated that within 10 years the city of Monterrey, Mexico will have a density that is similar to other large cities in Latin America; 250 inhabitants per hectare.

Monterrey, Mexico, long considered the most United States like city in Mexico has been going through rapid changes over the last several years as redevelopment projects and personal tastes have pushed development in the core of the city towards high-rise apartment living rather than low density housing.

The city of Monterrey has been following a policy of densification in an effort to redevelop abandoned and underutilized areas, a policy which seems to be working.

Mr. Gutierez explained that the basis for this goal are guidelines set forth in the Nuevo Leon State Redevelopment Plan for the years 2010 – 2015 which call for more densification in the urban areas of Monterrey. Mr. Gutierrez stated “This will happen as long as we have policies in place that encourage the vertical growth we seek.” He further went on to say that vertical projects will allow more people to live in the urban core of the city, taking just a few projects in underutilized areas to turn the tide towards growth.

Even before the plan was sanctioned by the government, vertical growth had already been underway. Many high-rise / mixed use projects had already been completed- not just in the core of Monterrey or in the hyper-affluent areas of San Pedro but in the south areas of the city as well. The recently completed tower and commercial center at Garza Sada 1892, located in the edge-city like neighborhood that surrounds Monterey Tech, has seen modest success even in these tough economic times. Several more towers are planned with the next phase of construction already started.

As with any good government plan, the key is to put it in front of the trends already taking place and the Nuevo Leon State Development Plan does just that.

The construction of these types of projects represent the changing tastes of younger buyers and renters in Monterrey who are well educated, having families later, and enjoying more disposable income than ever before. Also helping is the fact that Mexico has not been hit as hard by the economic crisis as other countries. Despite the economic difficulties of its neighbor to the north and the ongoing problems of violence and security due to the narcotraffickers and the illegal drug trade, Mexico has seen modest economic growth and very little slow down in investment from domestic and outside sources.

With many projects under construction and completed and many more planned, Monterrey is moving towards a future of high-density living.

While high-density is a good thing for urban areas, it must be conducted with special care taken towards public spaces, supporting public transit and lessening dependence on the automobile, something that the newest developments have lacked. Whether or not Monterrey will place a high importance on this matter is anyone’s guess but the city and people, being organic entities, will evolve. As the security situation improves and the high-density living becomes the norm. People will demand that more attention be given to high quality public spaces and outdoor environments; Baby steps to be explored at a later time.

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