Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico - It keeps getting harder and harder to justify making a shopping trip into Vallarta if you reside or vacation in the Northshore area of the Bahía de Banderas. Little by little, more shopping opportunities are moving out to the populated areas north of the Big City, Puerto Vallarta.
The expanded Lago Real Plaza, located between Mezcales and Nuevo Vallarta, opened in early December, to allow persons access to a new movie theatre located at the far south end of the expanded mall.
Paradise Village Mall was the first climate-controlled shopping plaza in this area and has been around for years, but it is buried deep in Nuevo Vallarta and has tended to cater primarily to tourists.
Perhaps the obvious starting point for the Northshore shopping revolution occurred about 4 years ago, with the construction near Bucerías of the Commercial Mex Mega superstore, built right on the busy Highway 200, promising a one-stop alternative to shopping at the mom and pop minisupers and neighborhood hardware and clothing stores. Unfortunately, the attached mall has never attracted the attention of retailers and remains largely vacant.
Next came phase I of Lago Real Plaza, better known as Wal-Mart Plaza, which opened with a mini-mall and included a freestanding restaurant and an auto supply store in the parking area.
The larger, completed Lago Real Plaza is planned to be a 100+ store shopping mall development, featuring a food court at its center and anchored by a multi screen cinema.
Just like Mega, it is located on Hwy 200, the main thoroughfare between Puerto Vallarta and the resort towns and developments located to its north.
The original mall, which was phase I of "Walmart Plaza," since that is the store which anchors it, was constructed starting in May, 2007 and opened in September, 2009.
Phase I, consisting of 47 commercial spaces, has leased all but 4 of its available storefronts. The original mall crosses the front of Walmart. The Phase II mall connects to the south end of the original building and is anchored by the new six-screen Cinepolis, which opened in early December.
Lago Real Manager Salvador Chavez, says, "Our entire mall and especially the food court, is designed for customers to spend 3 or 4 hours here and feel comfortable shopping, eating and feeling relaxed."
One aspect of the focus on feeling comfortable while at Lago Real, is demonstrated by a service unique to area shopping malls. There is an on-site medical station, which will include a paramedic on duty during mall hours, on call as a first responder to handle medical emergencies.
The construction of Phase II was begun in March, 2011 and consists of 53 commercial spaces and the food court consists of 10 spaces. The food court area, midway in the new mall section, features a large seating area with hanging flat screen TV’s and free WIFI for shoppers The wide mall center aisle is designed to allow up to 20 freestanding kiosks, in addition to benches and touches of greenery.
Mr. Chavez says Lago Real covers 8 hectares and has parking for 1300 cars, many of them under parking "canopies," to keep the vehicles cool and dry during the Summer and the rainy season months. The development is projected to create 1500 jobs to serve the 5000 to 10,000 customers that are expected to visit the mall each day. A few of the new tenant names which Mr. Chavez would release are Starbuck’s, Parisina and Elite Locker Sports.
The mall developer is currently "in talks" with other prospects, among them a department store, a major office supply store and fast food restaurants, but was not willing to release their identities just yet.Mr. Chavez pointed out that in the undeveloped area on the north side of Walmart, there will be a man-made lake, called Lago Real, complete with decorative fountains and he said, in keeping with the area's environment, "Maybe a crocodile or two."