The construction site where adjacent homes fell into the excavation last year. The construction site where adjacent homes fell into the excavation last year.

In Monterrey, boom of runaway development

Developers look skyward, but often to the detriment of neighboring single-family homes

A real estate boom in the capital of Nuevo León has unleashed a proliferation of unsustainable development by unscrupulous developers, charges a local environmental group.

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In at least one case, the effects of the runaway development had devastating consequences.

With land running out in the metropolitan area of Monterrey, real estate developers have increasingly turned to the construction of high-rise residential and commercial towers, especially in the wealthy municipality of San Pedro Garza García.

Real estate in the upscale area has enjoyed appreciation in value that is among the highest in the country.

But in many cases new high-rise developments have been approved next to single-family homes, diminishing their value, impacting negatively on residents’ quality of life and even putting people’s lives at risk. Such developments have provoked an exodus by residents who felt their quality of life had been lost.

Some parts of San Pedro have seen an influx of businesses, offices, bars and educational institutions in recent years that has led to increased traffic and insecurity, a lack of parking space and a deterioration of the quality of services in the area.

The municipality is also home to Mexico’s tallest building, the Torre Koi, a mixed-use skyscraper whose 67 stories and nine levels of parking soar 280 meters into the sky.

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The head of Comité Ecológico Pro Bienestar (ecological committee for well-being) explained that the only thing that concerns most developers is making money and for years the natural environment has been collateral damage.

“Unfortunately, real estate speculators who base their operations on profitable development — not on sustainable development — are only going to apply the brakes when one of the rich residents of San Pedro is affected,” Guillermo Martínez Berlanga said, adding that it was only a matter of time before that happened.

“. . . For years nature has been challenged by building mansions in mountainous areas, obstructing ravines and constructing monumental buildings using outdated techniques or materials on land where the soil doesn’t allow for such a load,” he said.

One development which had scant regard for the safety of others was brought into tragic focus in November last year.

An elderly couple died when four houses adjacent to the construction of a 23-story building collapsed in the neighborhood of Antigua de Monterrey, located on the municipal boundary with San Pedro.

Excavation of an underground parking lot at the development was blamed for destabilizing the land and causing the subsequent collapse of homes. A retaining wall erected to prevent further damage also collapsed.

The project proposal by construction firm Legosa was initially rejected in January 2015 but a new proposal was later approved in September of the same year, a month before Monterrey Mayor Margarita Arellanes finished her term.

Two months after construction started, cracks started to appear in neighboring homes but authorities failed to adequately respond to residents’ complaints or take action that may have remedied the problem. A year later the disaster occurred.

Martínez said the tragedy should be seen as a new wake-up call to avoid further disasters caused by what he referred to as a “real estate cartel.”

He said that corrupt mayors and state authorities are complicit with developers because they approve new developments in areas that are not suitable for construction and despite opposition from existing residents.

Problems have shown up in other parts of the city, and in projects built by the same construction firm that was building the tower that caused the homes to collapse.

In at least one case, the company blatantly violated its building permit by using a different construction method for the foundations of a tower.

However, the lawyer for a woman whose home was consequently damaged and at risk of falling into a 30-meter pit excavated by the company said that the local government has failed to take any action against it.

“The [Legosa] businessmen seem to be protected by the municipal authorities because they don’t sanction them or stop their work,” José María Urrutia said.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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  • WestCoastHwy

    Mexicans don’t follow a standard building code, the retarded Mexican engineers say whether it will stand or fall. They don’t use the proper fixtures because they don’t understand that replacing same with cheaper fixtures because they didn’t order the proper ones because of logistical nightmares will result in improper structural support. I work with these idiots and Frankly, it’s down right scary knowing what is being built. Mexicans should stick with what they know……..sun baked adobe!

    • Gary Blake

      you are 100% correct here, IT IS downright scary, MOST all of the Mexican Construction workers DID NOT complete the 3rd grade! Can not read or write, are SO IGNORANT, they have not even the basic understanding of structures, the importance of proper placement of reinforcing steel (Re-Bar) in the cement, etc.
      Simply 1/2″ (Inch) off on the reinforcing steel placement in the cement can result in catastrophic failure of the structure, now add workers who could care less.
      NOR DO THEY CARE! Ask them !!!!!!!!!!
      There are NO inspectors on the jobsite EVER in Mexico, and then ones they have, have NO CLUE anyway!
      Biggest joke I ever saw (actually read) in my life is, EVERY expat owned home in Mexico advertised for sale, always advertises proudly “Built to American Standards” got the biggest kick out of this, as the majority of the homes were Canadian Built, apparently Canada has no standards? (Built to Canadian Standards is never touted)
      Ok first off you are going to tell me a Mexican, who can not read or write, never went to school understands and has memorized the American UBC (Uniform Building Code) get real here idiots!
      Now lets talk about the American NEC, (National Electric Code) ditto that one as well.
      IN MEXICO there IS NO licensing at all for plumbers or electricians, NONE! These guys have NO CLUE WHATSOEVER, as to proper, SAFE techniques and standard practices.
      Rodding and or properly vibrating cement an alien concept to them!
      In the USA today, it is all but impossible to get a Plumbers or Electricians license, some states require 4 years of college, as well as the continued educations and costs to maintain the license, as well they are all grossly underpaid!
      A pressure type connector (that’s a wire nut to you!) long required in the Electrical Code worldwide, IS unheard of in Mexico today, and not used at all, they still twist and friction tape electrical connections in Mexico, which quickly and promptly all FAIL! This is the reason for the code and pressure type connectors.
      Proper color coding of wires, proper grounding and bonding (What’s That?) alien concepts as well!!!
      Bottom line is ALL of this requires MORE WORK, MORE TIME, and MORE MONEY $$$$$$, all mucho problema in Mexico, more time???? NO WAY!
      9 out of 10 homes in Mexico have a suicide electrical system, that is not only dangerous, underfed, BUT grossly inadequate.

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