Monday, October 24, 2005

Of The Damned Guatemala City Luxury Housing Boom

Some weeks ago, we were torturing ourselves over some decisions about apartment living in the glitzy apartment towers of Guatemala's star-studded Zones 10 and 14. It came down to two options: The one that was closer to work, restaurants, shopping, etc, but had a big construction site next to it (The Tiffany, with the Tiffany II going up next door); or the one that was a bit farther away, but would be quiet on Saturday mornings. In the end, we chose the farther away one, as nothing is really that far away in Guatemala City. Readers with a keen sense of irony, or perhaps just a healthy appreciation for Murphy's Law, can probably already guess what's happening right next door, as of last week.

The number of high-rise apartment towers going up in this city is absolutely bonkers. I have no idea who lives in them. I mean, we're getting a ridiculous housing stiped from Uncle Sugar to pay for our full-floor flat. There is a sizeable elite in Guatemala, but I think they all live in palatial mansions in the hills we can see from our balcony. Of course, we can also see several huge apartment towers that almost never seem to have any lights on in 90% of the units at, say, 7:30 on a Tuesday night. Maybe they're all empty because the owners are summering at their cottages on the Cape, but it seems more likely that they're just un-rentable given what they ask and what 99% of Guatemalans can pay. Yet we can see new buildings going up in every direction. Shortly, we'll be able to see one more, a mere twenty feet away.

1 comment:

EEK! said...

Intriguing. Is the government subsidizing or somehow encouraging (tax break or whatever) the new developments, regardless of occupancy?

Probably a total US-centric thought, but my first reaction is "subsidy scam!" Especially with the rampant vacancies. Why build apartments nobody will live in? It has to be worth it to the builders in some way.