Tiger's Baja California project

May 16, 2009

It will be interesting to follow how Tiger Woods' course project in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, unfolds, given the negative news on the drug-war front emanating from the region.

Woods is designing an ocean-front course as part of the Punta Brava development, where one-acre homesites are selling for $3 million. It is expected to open in 2011.

It was in the news yesterday for having gained approval to proceed from a Mexican environmental agency (though environmentalists there say they will challenge the ruling).

Ensenada is 56 miles south of San Diego and the U.S.-Mexico border. Most of the violence has occurred in or around the border town of Tijuana, where just this week four U.S. citizens were found beaten, stabbed and murdered. But other tourist areas in the area, notably Rosarito Beach and Ensenada, have not been immune. In January, Santiago Meza Lopez, who was alleged to have confessed to disposing of 300 bodies by dissolving them in acid at the behest of a drug cartel, was arrested near Ensenada.

Last month, Time magazine ran a story with this headline: "Baja, Land of Drug Wars, Tries to Draw Tourists." In the story was this quote from Nancy Conroy, former publisher and editor of the Gringo Gazette North: "I strongly urge any U.S. investors to stay away from Mexico real estate. Basically, northern Baja is under military occupation, there are several narco shootings per day, and tourists are not immune."

The tourist and real estate industries there say the problems are overstated, but suffice it to say it hasn't been good for business.

-- John Strege