SOMETHING awesome this way comes for the residents of San Pedro Alcantara.
The sister town of Marbella is yet again upgrading its charm thanks to the addition of a new barrio – aka neighbourhood – called El Ingenio.
Across the road from the La Colonia shopping centre, and next to the historic sugar factory, extensive works are creating a nucleus of shops, bars and restaurants.
While yet to be completed, the charming epicentre of the up-and-coming area along Calle Jose Echegaray already counts a pottery school, bakery, independent fashion stores and two popular tapas restaurants.
It is just one of the latest developments that has turned this once humble fishing village into a jewel of the Costa del Sol.
There is a spate of new luxury homes sprouting up in the south of the town towards the beach, and close to the recently revamped Nueva Alcantara padel club.
A striking urban boulevard sprouting trendy pavement cafes has reclaimed the once maligned area, which was plagued by lines of traffic before an underground tunnel was created, allowing cars from the N-340 coast road to travel underneath most of the town.
With a skating rink, a skate park and a hat trick of new children’s play parks, the seaside village is growing increasingly unrecognisable from a decade ago.
The town’s head-turning footbridge with its serpentine coils, is doing for San Pedro what the Golden Gate did for San Francisco.
Just 10km west of Marbella, ‘San Peds’ has been reborn over the last decade.
But some things have never changed in the 20 or so years I have been visiting the town.
The evenings still see veteran Sanpedreños gather on shaded benches around St Peter’s statue, outside the parish church, and you can bet your bottom centimo the pavement cafes and ice cream parlours are heaving on Sunday nights.
What has kept San Pedro special has been its ability to hang on to its Spanish persona in the face of massive investment from Marbella Town Hall – more than €100 million.
The central boulevard, crowned by its snaking pedestrian bridge, has turned the town from an also-ran suburb into a spanking new social hub where whole families come to skate on the all-weather artificial ice rink and enjoy the regular food truck festivals.
Other welcome upgrades include the €85 million tunnel diverting dangerous high-speed traffic below the town centre, and a much-needed underground car park.
New investment has also seen the centre of town part-pedestrianised.
And beneath the glitzy exterior, San Pedraños are as friendly and unassuming as they were in their 19th century farming days.
Central to its evolution has been its bustling beach promenade that links seamlessly to Banus and Marbella, putting the town on the map for cyclists, joggers and walkers.
Its beaches fly the prestigious blue flag, the worldwide standard of excellence, while chic chiringuitos like Macaao and Guayaba are hotspots for the cool and hip.
The once-barren wasteland between the boulevard and coast now includes shops, restaurants, residential communities and world class amenities like Nueva Alcantara paddle and tennis club, which reopened this year following a massive revamp.
And there’s more. San Pedro has its own leafy satellite suburb in the shape of Guadalmina (Baja and Alta), just west of the town centre.
This exclusive neighbourhood – a kind of western golden mile – boasts multi-million euro mansions galore.
Guadalmina Baja is frequently home to ex-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who is often seen jogging or walking along the tree-lined avenues, flanked by two or three burly bodyguards.
Guadalmina Alta, on the opposite side of the A7, has an 18-hole course and the coast’s only cable ski lake which thrill-seekers can circuit on water skis or a wakeboard.
“I adore it here, you feel like you are in the real Spain,” raves Irish Guadalmina resident Debbie. “You are so close to Marbella and Estepona but without the madness and business of Puerto Banus, it’s perfect.
“You can walk to the beach, cycle to Marbella and there are so many good places to eat, you have everything on your doorstep,” she adds.
Like most locals, these days, she’s proud to tell anyone who asks that, no, she’s not Marbelli – she’s ‘Sanpedreño, actually’.