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Revitalization of Downtown Tijuana Is Underway

A deteriorating brick flophouse was repositioned to office space for creative tenants.

Known for tourist curio shops, taco houses and zebra-striped donkeys, Downtown Tijuana (TJ) is undergoing a revitalization with a new wave of developers replacing decaying, abandoned buildings in with loft apartments, a boutique hotel, creative office space and modern retail amenities, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. About a dozen new projects have been completed in the centro historico, the 53-block city center near the US border, which includes Avenida Revolucion—the tourist strip.

This area has been struggling as a result of the drop-off in tourism due to long waits at the border, the economic recession and drug-related violence, which peaked between 2008 and 2010. Developer Fernanda Padilla is among developers changing the face of Downtown, repositioning a red brick building on 10th Street, between Madero and Negrete avenues, to Brik-10 (pictured), a three-story creative office space with a rooftop garden terrace, meeting space, café and off-street parking. Her project, which has 17 office spaces, is 100% occupied, with architects, furniture designers, a specialist in high-end restaurant interiors and social media marketing strategists.

Other projects include Cine Tonala, which is converting an abandoned building to a cultural center, and businessman David Saul Guakil's repositioning of the old Sara department store to an office building with ground-floor retail. The Estacion Federal buildings in the Colonia Federal are being converted to apartments and commercial space.

Developers are talking about adding art galleries, breweries, bike stations, colorful murals, cafés and coffee shops, and markets with organic produce. These improvements are an indication of a generational transition in TJ, a city with a population of more than 1.7 million, along with the city’s growing prosperity due in large part to an increase in US manufacturers establishing facilities in the area.

Improvements to Downtown TJ could attract businesses and residents, ultimately creating an urban live/work environment.

Developer David Mayagoitia has proposed stepping up progress with development of an IDEA District, similar to Downtown San Diego's I.D.E.A. District, to bring design and tech jobs to TJ.

He suggested a first step in revitalizing the Downtown TJ district is to repopulate the CBD by creating a vibrant and exciting environment there. He has been a force behind the city’s plans to update development rules and launch a new public transportation system. [SDUT]