Rancho Costa Verde
– The inside line
For more than 30-years, my firm, TheAmesGroup had the good fortune of representing some of the finest names in domestic and foreign real estate acquisition and development and, from time to time, we employed many of their developments as examples of successful foreign and domestic investment. Kaufman and Broad, Watt, Champion Homes; there were a ton of them. Now, in semi-retirement, Joyce and I have retired to one of those developments, Rancho Costa Verde; a seaside community of custom homes just 2-hours south of the California border in San Felipe, Baja. With 1500 guard-gated and patroled acres and complete social and recreational facilities, this private community has more than 1200 1/4 acre parcels, each with 180-and many with 270-degree views of the magnificent Sea of Cortez and 36 beachfront properties that line what Jacques Cousteau called, The World’s Aquarium. Well, 35 since one will have our own 2500 square foot custom-built home that, all-in, wiilhave cost us just under $350,000; and these are fully-deeded parcels, not leases or timeshares like many beachfront properties are. We own our land and our home to pass down to our children and grandchildren. So for the just under 1,000 clients my firm has represented over the years, you know our reputation for providing sound legal and financial counsel in your real estate, land use and governmental affairs matters and Joyce and I welcome your your inquiry as we semi-retire to represent a development that we’re proud to call home here at Rancho Costa Verde.
Rancho Costa Verde is a unique, 1500-acre planned-residential development situated along the shore of the Sea of Cortez. This single-family, residential development is wholly, ecologically self-sufficient and lies just 2.5 hours south of the border crossing just outside the “shrimp capitol of the world”, San Felipe, Baja California. World-renowned for its seafood, this now-sleepy Mexican town is situated along the famed “dolphin corridor” that is home to the last of the endangered Vaquita miniature dolphins.
-The Vision of RCV
An award-winning, environmentally sensitive, self-sustaining, non-polluting “Green”, eco-centric, master-planned, residential community, Rancho Costa Verde was, at first, derided for its “alleged”, self-sustaining, “Green” environment and going where no one had gone before. But as rampant wildfires decimated the US power infrastructure and 2020 devolved into Covid-19 chaos, the company’s eco-based technology began proving itself unfailingly for the residents of Rancho Costa Verde, compelling those who doubted the integrity of the vision to finally agree that yes, perhaps this new generation of solar energy just might be the way of the future; all this as Rancho Costa Verde’s early- and now sustaining government supporters continue their now decade-long celebration of “their” Rancho Costa Verde’s “Nuevo Vision”.
Wishing to replace the large, conventional, expensive and bulky septic systems so prevalent in other residential developments, Rancho Costa Verde turned to the new “Mighty Max” system for its waste water disposal. Using a revolutionary aerobic bio-treatment process that’s not only environmentally superior to traditional septic tanks but is also far less expensive, the Mighty Max provides the homeowner with the added benefit of producing clean water that can feed your garden and contribute to a greener home landscape. The company’s patented Green solution also cleans the air while at the same time beautifying the home. Should you wish to learn more, please refer to the company’s brochure provided here for your immediate reference.
By now, most Americans either have or know someone who has the familiar solar power box hanging on their garage wall with attendant DC-batteries all hooked up to the home’s new solar power panels. In its quest to develop Rancho Costa Verde as a wholly self-sufficient and environmentally self-sustaining community, its developers looked more to the future of solar technology and turned to the same technology that’s continuing to power the NASA/JPL Space Station for both its homes and ample community and recreation facilities. Sized specifically to meet the homeowners’ unique needs and with advancements in solar engineering now coming at light-speed, the costs attendant to these systems continue to fall precipitously. In place and fully-functional now for more than a decade without a single interruption, the community well-enjoys the comfort and security of knowing that their power is forever paid-for without the unsightly lines and poles and that they’re not subject to random blackouts anymore as with conventional systems.
Unlike the high-density enclaves that constitute larger city-living, water is a concern of developments along the still-unspoiled coastline of Mexico. Fortunately, Rancho Costa Verde sits in close proximity to the San Pedro de Martín mountains where rain and snow melt-off filters through thousands of feet of granite and shale into underground aquifers. From there, trucks transport the fresh, mountain-spring water to the development’s residents’ individual, 2500-gallon cisterns located at every homesite. Together with solar power and bio-degradable waste systems, this fresh, patent, potable drinking water is the third gem in the developer’s now well-acclaimed Triple Crown of “green”, environmentally-responsible construction; to date the only, self-sustaining, self-sufficient and self-reliant, planned residential development in the world.
-The BIG Picture
As well-noted elsewhere in this website’s pages, The AmesGroup has never been the largest group in the nation nor even the greater Los Angeles area but one which fought the fights we believed in for the people we believed in and nowhere is that more evident than with our support of this development for R-MAC Properties. In commencing the project in 2009, few gave the project even the slimmest of chances, this in substantial measure because of its ambitious plan of total self-sufficiency and the developers’ commitment to environmental quality. Even the government, wholly-unaccustomed to this unique form of development, especially in a small fishing village like San Felipe, micro-inspected every inch of progress assuring that “these gringos (weren’t) trying to pull a fast one” until one day, more than 2-years later, the developers had so-convinced the government officials, through both “word and deed”, that the project was “real” that they allowed Phase 1 to break ground with permitting running concurrently with the movement of dirt.
Progress was understandably slow in the early times with the R-MAC team having to prove and re-prove every developmental step along the way, clearing one municipal hurdle after another, one environmental roadblock at a time until the government finally saw, again based wholly-upon the team’s by-then well-established track record of performance, that this was no “fly-by-night operation” as were so many they had seen come and go before. Infrastructure was going in; roads were being built; lots were being cut and demarcated; a well-appointed clubhouse and 12 guest casítas were breaking ground right along with a beach-side swimming pool and restaurant, all beginning to rise from whence there was once only desert; and the town was prospering. Men were working in myriad trades. Salaries were being paid. Food was going onto the families’ dinner tables and with every procedural hurdle cleared, the once understandably-suspicious and cautious Mexican officials came to know the integrity of this development team as the reality of their vision began to emerge.
Despite being purchased via direct Mexican ownership and thus avoiding the numerous pitfalls attendant to property that was formerly Ejido land, Rancho Costa Verde, some 1200 initial acres in size, was still in the “Restricted Zone” and also within a “significant environmental zone” requiring careful, deliberate and balanced planning in order to appease the Environmental Impact Study guidelines. Assuring that nature was left intact while still providing for the financial feasibility of the project was of paramount importance to both parties. And, after the environmental hurdles were finally cleared, cul-de-sac streets designed to minimize traffic for the residents, nature trails incorporated to make the walk from each home to the beach as safe as it was enjoyable, less than 350 parcels remained in Phase 1. With an average lot size of 10,000 square feet or just under a quarter of an acre each, that number of parcels represents just an 11% density spread across the graduated slope running 2-1/2 miles from the San Felipe Mountains down to the sand of the Sea of Cortes.
For a qualified perspective, the City of Los Angeles approves an average residential density of 38.9% which means that, on aggregate average, just over 60% of a developer’s project is deeded away to the city for streets, drainage and other public necessities both current and future (widening of streets at some future date) and requisite “open space” for “the enjoyment of the community”. That leaves the developers with just under 40% of their original land upon which to build homes and make a profit. In stark contrast, the Rancho Costa Verde team was left with just 11% on which to build homes and make their profit which, to be absolutely accurate, could have been significantly more save for R-MAC’s design which mandated that even the most distant of homes would, by virtue of engineering and design, have a natural and unobstructed view of the ocean made possible by the approximate 4% slope and the creative canting of the lots at a 30-degree angle to the fall line of the slope. In short and in keeping with their forward-thinking development, clients of Rancho Costa Verde were offered a truly unique development which sold out Phase 1 completely before it was even completed. Today, the remainder of the project in Phases 2, 3 and 4, have less than 100 remaining parcels to be sold and the 5th and final phase is currently in the works.
Of special note here is the fact that Rancho Costa Verde is decidedly not for everyone. Young adults as an example would find the wholesale lack of late-night entertainment with rock, pop and funk blaring into the wee hours of the morning less than suitable to their vacation or resident tastes. Further, the master-planned community is located about 30-miles south of San Felipe, next to what is colloquially referred to as a one-horse town; the truly sleepy village of Delicias; aptly named for the delicious peace and tranquility that permeates the entire area. While still only a 4-hour drive from the border, about the sames as it is for those Los Angelenos wishing to vacation in “Sin City” Las Vegas, investors wishing to buy “as close to the states as possible” but eschewing the increasing density of the Pacific Coast side of Mexico may find the development of El Dorado Ranch first about 30-miles north or “this side” of San Felipe to their liking. Still miles from the San Felipe night-life and now a bit “long in the tooth” as they say, El Dorado has by now had a chance to “in-fill” with original investors having built their homes and now enjoying life in, ironically, somewhat the same, suburban neighborhood that they left. All of this makes the opportunity now available to those not minding the already developed, tract home atmosphere without concern for ocean views but with it 40-miles closer than Rancho Costa Verde, attractive to them; again, not the Rancho Costa Verde-type of investor.
So to whom is Rancho Costa Verde suited? First, from a pure investment-play perspective, with Inveravante, a multi-national, well-diversified corporation based in Spain with real estate interests stretching from Bucharest to Brazil and Morocco to Mexico and beyond now making plans for MarinAzul Golf and Resort just outside of San Felipe, anyone with investment capital, some of whom The AmesGroup currently represents. With plans centered on the existing albeit under-used “international” airport capable of servicing both commercial and private jet traffic, Inveravante’s 5-year plan includes a large marina with attendant yacht club with reciprocal rights to US and foreign yacht clubs, a 19-27 hole Seve Ballesteros-designed golf course, multi-location nature parks and commercial town squares, semi- and fully-detached, single- and multi-family residential communities and enclaves of terraced villas, tennis and golf social clubs, all designed to take full-advantage of the dearth in the current availability of luxury-living in the area; and they’ve acquired the rights precedent to Grupo Gran Coral, Banco de Valencia and Bancaja grabbing it up. Given all this, the investment potential becomes truly self-evident. In short, having this type of information at hand and again, the ability to accurately and timely disseminate it makes the risk of investment significantly less for the astute investor.
But the true target for Rancho Costa Verde is the passive investor; someone who
1) wants to put their money to work for them with very low risk but good appreciation who’s;
2) tired of seeing their money return less than a single percent at their bank and who;
3) would like a vacation property within driving distance of the southern United States that’s;
4) affordable beachfront or near-beach property upon which he or she can have their vacation home affordably well-built and know that they own property that is;
5) close enough to a town for the conveniences of medical care, groceries, shopping and recreational opportunities but that is;
6) far enough removed from the world that their days are theirs to enjoy the quiet solitude of Sea of Cortez that lay at their doorstep and who;
7) can call the nights truly their own under a canopy of stars that have long-disappeared from their city-view back home;.
8) all within a guard-gated, master-planned community where Rancho Costa Verde owners enjoy the security of a 24-hour watch over their property. That is Rancho Costa Verde’s target market.