By Duncan Tucker
Construction has yet to begin on the Ciudad Creativa Digital (Creative Digital City; CCD) announced earlier this year, but plans for Guadalajara’s ambitious multimedia park are gradually taking shape.
“The city will be built over the next decade with a mix of public and private investment,” said a spokesman for the government trade and investment agency Pro Mexico.
The project remains at an early stage and a schedule for construction has yet to be set, but a master plan for the first 10 to 15 years of the CCD is to be completed later in June. The document will map out architectural development, as well as plans for promotion and marketing, said Octavio Parga Jimenez, chairman of the CCD project.
While organizers are busy seeking private investment, the project is initially being funded by the municipal, state and federal governments, confirmed Pro Mexico. No cost figures have been released to date.
Mexican businessman Carlos Slim, is reportedly considering investing in the project. “It’s a very interesting initiative,” he was quoted as saying in a Spanish-language newspaper. “We like to participate in everything related to digital evolution that invites other developers to have the platform to develop new applications, new services and new content.”
The site for the project is divided into two locations. Planned by Spain’s Fundación Metrópoli, the main area is a 234-hectare plot between the Guadalajara’s Civil Hospital, Plaza Tapatia and Avenida Federalismo. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is serving as a consultant throughout the project, is also overseeing the planning of a smaller site 50-hectare site close by in the heart of Guadalajara’s historic city center.
The next step is for the project to be certified as a Sustainable Integral Urban Development (DUIS), which requires the endorsement of eleven federal agencies. This certification is the planners’ most immediate priority, as it is essential for unlocking state, federal and international resources. The DUIS is expected to be granted in June.
Another important process that is well underway is promoting the CDD in an effort to raise capital. Parga will present the project to up to 20 potentital investors in the United States and Canada over the next three months. They will first go to New York, Boston and Quebec, before making a second-leg journey to California to meet investors in Hollywood and the Silicon Valley.
“Of course we want to see Disney, Pixar, Electronic Arts and Nintendo, because we want to see animation companies, video game companies, film and television companies,” Parga said. Warner Bros MGM will also be among those targeted.
Parga has also promised that many Latin American companies will be involved, because “part of the concept in the areas of film and television is to represent the Latin American and Spanish-speaking market.”
Representatives of the CCD have already embarked on a promotional tour of England, France and Germany to court potential investors, although they declined to reveal the details of any deals made. Parga also recently returned from Bilbao, which Spain has promoted as its own creative city after an extensive redevelopment project focused around the opening of the groundbreaking Guggenheim Art Musuem in 1997.
“Bilbao is a reference model for new urban development from the point of view of renovating cities with historic, cultural, green, technical and innovative attractions,” Parga said.
After the North American promotional tour, CCD representatives will also look for capital from established firms in Asia, having already been paid visits by interested companies such as Toshiba.
Parga also serves as president of the National Chamber of Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology of the West (Canieti), a private non-profit IT association involved in the CCD. This has gone “beyond a Canieti project or a project of the creative media industry. It is starting to become a city project where we need the cooperation of everyone,” Parga said.
Local authorities are currently helping promote the project, determining its economic prospects and fulfilling environmental sustainability requirements that must be met, officials told members of Mexico’s Chamber of Construction Industry (CMIC) in Jalisco in May.
The CCD project is expected to create 25,000 jobs. Of these, Parga says. 6,000 will go to Mexican firms in the multimedia industry and the remainder will go to foreign corporations. There are currently 15,000 jobs in software companies in Jalisco and another 1,000 in multimedia.
Whatever the outcome of Mexico’s national elections July 1, the CCD project should go ahead unaffected. The current Mayor of Guadalajara, Jorge Aristoteles Sandoval of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), leads the race to win the Jalisco state governorship, meaning he would be in an even stronger position to support the project.
The PRI candidate to succeed him as mayor has also promised to support and promote the project CCD should he win. In a meeting with Jalisco businesmen, Ramiro Hernandez Garcia said “the Creative Digital City is certainly a project that we support, because this is an example of how to promote the economy and facilitate investment.”
The CCD could attract investment from over 1,000 existing companies in Mexico’s digital industry, he added. The PRI currently looks set to retain city hall as well as winning back the state of Jalisco and the presidency after years of National Action Party (PAN) rule.
President Felipe Calderon and current Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez of the PAN have both heavily backed the CCD project, so should their party pull of a surprise victory then it will continue to support the development.