It was back in the 1930’s when Duncan Brown who was the Uncle to Gus Brown, Jr. use to travel from San Luis Rio Colorado (where he farmed) by train to Hermosillo, Mexico. As Gus told me the story recently, it was on one of those trips that Duncan walked over the to see the Sea of Cortez and the beautiful pristine Sandy Beach. Although the land was owned by the government, through a very long process, Duncan was able to buy the land. He purchased the property through a third party using his lawyer Rafael Navarrete and in 1941 President Cardenas signed the Title of the 3,374 acres to Duncan Brown. Duncan was a Mexican Citizen of American decent and worked in the cotton industry. In 1943 Duncan passed away and his widow owned the property until she sold it to Gustavo Brown Sr. in 1956. Gus spoke fondly of his father and his wanting to keep Sandy Beach pristine. He went on to mentioned that at one time Howard Hughs came to meet with his dad and wanted to build another Las Vegas there. Fortunately, Mexican gambling laws prohibited it and thus it sat vacant for many years. Gus said he started buying stocks in his dad’s company in 1972 and in 1985 purchased the property from his dad.
Over the years, people from Arizona started coming to fish the Sea of Cortez. In those days “we had sport fishing” Gus said, before it was raped by foreign entities. In those years the road leading from Lukeville to Puerto Peñasco was awful. Many of the people wanted to leave their boats in Cholla, so his dad started leasing out land and one by one people began building boat houses. The reason Cholla was so popular was that you could not launch a boat in what we know as the Port as it was more like an Estuary.
Remember in these times Cholla Bay was all part of Sandy Beach. Many people have asked over the years why Cholla Bay seems to be rather helter skelter. We laughed when I asked him about how lot lines were made in Cholla when his dad was alive. He said he pretty much picked up 4 stones and threw them and wherever they landed was the owners lot lines. So NOW You Know!
Gus also went on to say that he decided to build on the Sandy Beach property to fulfill a dream of his. I remember in the 1995 time frame seeing what was starting to develop on Sandy Beach with the addition of under ground power and phone lines being run to Cholla Bay. When you think about the entire Brown family which has now had the property for nearly 74 years (if my math is correct) have been visionaries in development. I asked him how many lots are in Cholla Bay and it is over 1250. So it is amazing that from such humble beginning came a new part of Puerto Peñasco.
We continued talking about the Home Port and he like many of us have gotten frustrated with the starting and stopping of the project. With the help of the new Governor of Sonora, Claudia Pavalovich, the project will go forward. They have had a lot of dialog with Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Disney cruise ships. The breakwater is being extended to accommodate these new large ships. As most of you know, there are plans for 2 marinas as well as the big docks.
Gus stated that they a vision for a Town Center to be built in the approximate area where the RV Park is. This would harbor loft apartments, offices, medical facilities as well as restaurants, wine bars, ice cream shops, etc. The plan might include high end stores that people on cruise ships can shop at, a duty free store and a market for local vendors to display their arts and jewelry. Perhaps a real estate office and a B & B might fit into the plan.
Currently up for discussion is parking for guests that drive here. For tour bus operators, the opening of the Port will be a pot of Gold. This concept will employee a lot of people both in the hospitality industry as well as people to tend to the boats in the Marina.
If the design goes as planned, there will be places to have music concerts, as well as musical events all throughout the year. It will be not only a place for the people departing or returning from a cruise to enjoy but for locals as well. What would be more fun than to stroll around the shops while enjoying an ice ream or gelato and wishing you had a yacht moored there. It could open a whole new place for boaters to moor their boats as the costs in say Cabo San Lucas are almost as bad as San Diego or southern California. Also because we don’t get hurricanes like Cabo and the other areas do, you can have your yacht insured all year as I learned that in Cabo they don’t insure boats during Hurricane season.
What will make this a complete package is the Home Port opening and then the airlines will be flying here on a regular schedule. We will keep you updated on the progress and I remind you if you have questions, leave a comment below.
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In closing after speaking with Gus, all I can say is these are the things dreams are made of.
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