Protesters at the site of new hotel in Cancún. Protesters at the site of the Gran Solaris.

Construction halted at new hotel in Cancún

Councilors question authorizations granted to 450-room beachfront project

Authorities in Cancún have ordered a temporary halt to the construction of a new 450-room hotel after questions were raised about the project’s authorizations.

The Benito Juárez municipal government issued the provisional suspension against the Gran Solaris hotel following the presentation on November 27 of an appeal for revision by two municipal councilors. They have questioned several authorizations issued by the local Secretariat of Ecology and Urban Development.

The developer, Villas Solaris, was granted a permit in June to build the 16-story project on coastal land next to Playa Delfines in the hotel zone.

Among the permissions queried are the development’s construction license and land use consent. The councilors also queried an allegedly illegal decision made in 2004 which approved the amalgamation of three separate parcels of land with different land use regulations.

Together the three lots constitute the 18,844-square-meter site where the hotel is slated to be built. Critics of the project also say that the positioning of metal structures on a section of the site where marine turtles nest had led to many of the sea creatures dying.

One day after the appeal was lodged, the municipal government’s trustee for the project announced that a provisional suspension had been put in place and would remain in effect while questions about the legitimacy and legality of the project are investigated.

“We took the decision to approve the suspension request . . . for the purpose of reviewing the state of the aforementioned project,” Mirna Karina Martínez said.

However, she explained that the suspension did not mean that the project would be permanently shut down and that if it is found to be in compliance with the law, it will go ahead.

Mayor Remberto Estrada Barba said public opposition to the project was also a factor in suspending work. His government is in favor of investment through real estate development, he said, but it must be sustainable and legal.

Several residents protested the project with a demonstration two weeks ago. One said the hotel would block one of eight remaining beaches to which the public has access.

Officials who head the departments whose authorizations have been called into question have been given five days to present evidence that shows they were issued legally.

The secretary of ecology and urban development, the general director of urban development and the directors of ecology and the land registry are among those who have been asked to provide documentary proof of their decisions.

The developer has also been called on to present the permits it has been granted.

A further hearing on the matter will be held on December 13. In the meantime, the developer is prohibited from carrying out any further work on the site including the removal of vegetation, infill work or any other activity related to the construction of the hotel.

Source: El Universal (sp), Riviera Maya News (en), Noticaribe (sp)

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