The area that has seen the largest increase in new real estate development in recent years is the southside of downtown Puerto Vallarta. There has been boom in boutique condominium projects situated a block or two from the beach, in the "colonia" commonly known as Emiliano Zapata.

So is it southside Vallarta or Emiliano Zapata? Well, it is both, and more. It is also known as Old Town, or "Zona Romantica" and actually entails the colonia referred to as Olas Altas as well. So let's back up a bit so we can better understand the borders of this area. The river Cuale runs through the middle of Puerto Vallarta, separating it into to two regions that are actually quite different from one another. And although the southside is sometimes known as Old Town, it is not, it is actually younger than the northside of the Cuale. In Vallarta's early years there were no bridges over the Cuale, which limited development so most of Vallarta began on its northern shore. It was only with the construction of a bridge that the southside began developing.

North of the Cuale is more touristic, with the primary part of the promenade, lined with bars, restaurants and nightclubs. There is less tourism real estate here, and what there is, is on the hillside behind. But it hasn't seen any of the recent development that the southside of the Cuale has seen.

In MLSVallarta this area is known as South Vallarta, and its borders would be the Cuale river on its northern border, the ocean and beach (Los Muertos) on its western border, and hillside neighborhood of Amapas to the south. Its eastern border is the #200 highway that runs around and south to Costa Careyes and Manzanillo. Most of the real estate activity, however, nestles close to the beach area of Los Muertos.

Primary real estate activity has been situated along two popular streets; Venustiana Carranza and Basilio Badillo, which run up from the beach eastwards. Development here is drastically changing the look of these streets, as small homes and shops have been torn down to be replaced by condominium towers and upscale shops and restaurants on the ground floor. Most is still under construction, but already many commercial endeavors have moved in and are open for business.

To view a map where all these developments and more are located, visit the Developments Page of MLSVallarta.

On the corner of Carranza and Constitución is the project Zenith with now finished condominiums available and shops and boutiques situated below. Across the street, under construction is Urban and next to it is Pavilion, which takes up most of what is left of this block. Further down from Zenith is Loft 268, which is on the corner of Carranza and Ignacio Vallarta.

Zenith offers 44 units with one and two bedroom units. There's underground parking available and other amenities include heated infinity rooftop pool, fitness center and storage lockers. Prices start at US$250,000.

Urban also offers one and two bedroom units with amenities such as a sun lounge and infinity rooftop pool, open terrace with dining area and an outdoor kitchen for common use. Prices start around US$250,000.

Pavilion has 62 units that are studios, one and two bedroom. Amenities include a rooftop lap pool and lounge area, two heated Jacuzzis and fitness room. Prices start at US$198,000.

Loft 268 offers one and two bedroom units and amenities such as a rooftop area with infinity pool, Jacuzzi, gym, bar and BBQ area. Prices start at just under US$300,000.

Over on Basilio Badillo (photo above) there are three condo projects next to each other situated in the 200 block; Oceana, Pacifica and Nayri.

Oceana consists of 30 units and offers one, two and three bedroom condos with amenities such as rooftop fitness studio, lounge area, BBQ and water features. Prices start at just under US$400,000.

Pacifica consists of 37 units but just a few studio units are still available. Amenities include rooftop terrace with infinity pool and Jacuzzi, gym, lounge areas and BBQ. Prices start at just under US$375,000.

Nayri offers one and two bedroom units with amenities including rooftop infinity pool, Jacuzzi, bar and lounge areas, spa, steam room and business center. Prices start at just under US$285,000.

And just off of Olas Altas on Francisca Rodriguez are two projects that offer a little more elevation and therefore views from some individual units (in the background in the photo below).

Pier 57 is on the corner of Rodriguez and Pino Suarez and has 57 studio, one and two bedroom units with again, a rooftop living areas with lounge areas, bar, infinity pool, recessed lounge space, private cabanas, full-equipped and underground parking below. Prices start at US$285,000.

105 Sail View is just above Pier 57 on Calle Rodriguez with 30 units of one, two and three bedrooms. Amenities include rooftop infinity pool Jacuzzi, bar & bistro, fitness center and spa. Prices start at just under US$350,000.

What all these projects have in common are their rooftop common areas. As most are within the city and for the most part don't offer views, they make up for it with common areas that do, and that are quite exotic. Lounge areas, bars, Jacuzzis, infinity pools with recessed island lounging, and more. It's a trend we'll only be seeing more of, as they become more and more lavish and luxurious, as one project tries to out do the other.