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SAN DIEGO-A Mexican developer plans to build a $40 million convention center in Tijuana in 2004 in the industrial Otay Mesa area.

The first phase will include 150,000 sf of convention space, a 300-room hotel and a 9-hole golf course on a site less than two miles from the U.S. border, according to developer Federico Escobedo Garduño, who unveiled the project this week at the Camino Real Hotel.

Tijuana has been hard hit in recent months by cutbacks at maquiladora plants and a drop in tourism as a result of Sept. 11-related tighter security at U.S. border crossings.

City officials have long pressed for a convention center in Tijuana, one of Mexico’s largest cities. The city can currently handle conventions of only 2,000 people, according to Sigfrido Pineda, director of the city’s Conventions and Visitors Committee.

The new center, on a large parcel known as La Pechuga, will be able to accommodate more than 4,000 convention-goers.

Long-range plans call for a shopping center, entertainment center, a residential zone, tennis courts and two parking towers. The convention space could be expanded to 500,000 sf.

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