COMMERCIAL

Mexico 2017 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | B2B

Firms are getting more creative by the day as they rush to meet not only gaps in the Mexican market, but also fulfill certain unmet demands of their northern neighbor.

Renan Bucheli
RENAN BUCHELI
Executive Director
PlaSalud
Jimmy Arakanji
JIMMY ARAKANJI
Co-CEO & co-founder
Thor Urbana

How did you decide to get started?

Renan Bucheli Juan Antonio Namé is the founder of this project. He purchased an old building in Mexico City about 10 years ago that used to be a hospital. The tenants in the building were a pharmacy, a medical laboratory, and a chiropractor. He realized he had a “plaza de salud,” basically a health-themed strip mall. We combined the two words to form PlaSalud, our brand name. We want this concept to become the word one uses when they are ill; instead of going to the pharmacy they will go to PlaSalud because it has all the medical services one needs in one place. In Latin America, when people fall ill they go to a pharmacy rather than a hospital. It is hard to find specialties such as dentists and opticians. Most times people do not need a hospital; they just need a few special products or consultations. They do not need hospital services but require more than a pharmacy. Our concept is something in between; more than a pharmacy and not as much as a hospital.

Jimmy Arakanji We identified an opportunity a few years ago when Mexico was facing a public image problem. Everything was negative about the war against drugs and the cartels, but the fundamentals of the economy were still strong. We had a country that was projecting interesting growth over the next few decades. We saw a big window of opportunity to penetrate a huge market with a rising middle class where the current offer at the time was pretty limited, mostly to domestic brands and national tenants. That is where we realized there was a turning point in the country. We knew that perceptions were going to change. We saw the return of institutional capital into the country. At the time, we offered a unique proposition. Our access and relationships with international brands and tenants that were already close to our partners in New York through our equities gave us an edge. We knew a retail revolution was coming.
How do you decide what kind of expansion to pursue?

RB We have around 25 health plazas right now. In the beginning, we used to have an average of around eight stores per plaza, but now have 12-15. We have 25 plazas right now and are currently building three with two more waiting for the permits and licenses. We will start construction of those this summer. Right now, our first priority is to be the best and most known in Mexico City and its surroundings. Secondly, there is medical tourism near the border with the US for Americans without insurance to purchase medicine or see doctors; there are many dentists and opticians here. Our plazas will grow nicely there in the second phase, and we are already starting one over there. Thirdly, we believe the fastest-growing area in Mexico is Bajío. There are many people going there, as there is a lack of services, especially in health. We also play an important role in providing health services to rural communities. There is a shortage of medicine and treatment services in these areas.

JA In Cabo, we are developing the Montage Hotel, which will open in 2017. In Guadalajara we have another exciting project with retail, residential, and office components. In Mexico City, we are doing the Ritz Carlton at Reforma. In Metepec, in the Toluca Valley, we have our largest retail project. In Merida, we have a project called the Harbor, which has a lake. We are currently developing projects in Tulum, San Luis Potosí, and Torreón, and an island off the coast of Belize where we will have a hotel, parking lots, a marina, a landing strip, and a golf course. Every one of our projects has its charm and prominence in the market, becoming landmarks in each of these markets. Our goal is not to be the largest real estate company in Mexico, but the best. We want to do projects that will change neighborhoods and improve people's lives.