There's the gigantic Residences at Playa Blanca, which advertises "24-hour gourmet dining" and a "world class spa" on banners next to the highway, but which remains frozen in construction, scaffolds and pipes lined up on the grounds. The fortress-like condos at Las Olas Mar y Sol, which sit next to a steel skeleton structure, are surrounded by piles of trash.
Perhaps the best-known such flop is at Trump Ocean Resort Baja, a luxury hotel-condo project developed by Irongate Wilshire and PB Impulsores. Flamboyant real estate tycoon Donald Trump licensed his name to the resort, whose units sold for as much as $3 million in splashy pre-construction sales events.
But the project was never built. All that's visible now is a fenced-in hole, faded pink Trump Baja banners waving in the breeze. Buyers, who are out $32.2 million in deposits, sued Trump and the developers last year.
The real estate bust and tourism slowdown have crippled businesses in Rosarito Beach. On the main street, Boulevard Benito Juarez, sushi joints and coffee shops that cater to Americans sit empty. Lupe Perez, owner of El Nido restaurant, says his business has dropped 80% in the last year or so. Still, he has resisted firing staff members.
"This waiter has been here 28 years. He's third generation. I can't tell him to just go home," Perez said, gesturing toward a man clearing off an empty table.
Some observers say the downturn in Baja is just a temporary blip and buyers will come back soon. Rosarito Beach is on the coast, after all, and only about half an hour from San Diego. Prices on three-bedroom condos on the shore start at around $280,000, a fraction of what they'd cost in the U.S.
But the promise of cheap real estate just across the border isn't quite as appealing when there's plenty of it to be had in the U.S. too.
"What's hurting us is that now you can buy a nice Vegas condo for $150,000," Baja real estate agent Katz said. "We used to be that."