Every time I leave Mexico City for even a few weeks, I'm amazed at how much has changed when I return. A few months ago I came home from a trip and found a new Starbuck's, a gourmet food store, and a branch of my bank right down the block from where I live.
Last week I returned from six weeks of travel and immediately noticed changes within view of my apartment in Colonia Condesa. My neighbor is replastering and painting the facade of his house. The restaurant across the street that was closed for a year is being renovated as a tapas bar. Walking to work in Colonia Roma, just eight blocks away, I noticed even more changes.
So I decided to make an informal study of of my corner of Mexico City and count the businesses I'd not seen before my trip. Most of them have appeared within the past six weeks, although a few might be a bit older and just escaped my radar. I limited myself to a 3-block radius from my apartment and my studio, plus the streets connecting the two. Here's a list of what I found:
A wedding dress store
A shop selling Beatles memorabilia
A 19-story apartment building (it was only 3 stories when I left)
'Cassava Roots', a store selling Asian 'bubble teas'
Banco Azteca branch
ATM of BanCoppel
2 art galleries
A pawn Shop
'Beauty Life' health food and spa treatments
A frozen yogurt shop
A street stall selling quesadillas and tlacoyos
A bar offering artesanal beers
A fuente de Sodas
A sushi joint2 tapas bars
2 convenience stores
A store selling hookahs and accessories
Oficinas virtuales offered in a renovated office building
3 gift shops
1 hair Salon
An ironing shop (no laundry, just ironing!)
A religious article store
A children's clothing store ('Rock for your little monsters' their sign reads in English)
The Centro de escalada, rock climbing classes and equipment (www.levita.com.mx)
Mac & PC repair shop
Car rental agency
A store selling uniforms for police and firemen
and one more Starbuck's (on Plaza Luis Cabrera in Roma)
Total: 39 (and I didn't complete 3-block radius in Roma--I gave up when I reached 39, figuring the point had been made).
Colonia Condesa has enjoyed steady improvement over the past ten years or more. The changes in Roma started more slowly about five years ago, but in the past six months there's been an unprecedented boom in development. What strikes me as much as the number of new businesses is the diversity. What's happening here is not just a yuppie explosion, but a response to the socio-economic mix that makes Mexico City neighborhoods so vibrant.
Business and investment is not my line, so I asked Tom Johnston (no relation), a public policy analyst who runs a company called Business Development Partners here in Mexico City, to comment. Aside from our shared last name, we cover the same territory in our work/home routines. I live in Condesa and work in Roma, Tom lives in Roma and works in Condesa.
More blog posts about Condesa/Roma: