Site of the proposed Hotel Riviera Cancún. Site of the proposed Hotel Riviera Cancún.

Court orders permanent halt to US $95-million Cancún hotel project

Riu Hotels reneged on an agreement to upgrade a wastewater treatment plant, judge rules

Mexico’s Fifth District Court in Cancún has permanently dashed Riu Hotels & Resorts’ hopes to build a 530-room hotel in Cancún’s hotel zone.

The court ordered the Spanish hotel chain, which has been trying to build the hotel for the last five years despite opposition, to halt permanently the construction of the US $95.6-million Hotel Riviera Cancún, saying the company reneged on promises it made to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities at a cost of 60 million pesos.

The project had already been delayed since 2016, when a different court granted an injunction against further construction, based on concerns about the impact on an adjoining mangrove forest. The chain had intended to build the hotel with two 70-story towers in the Punta Nizuc area, off Boulevard Kukulcán. It would have been the fifth Riu property in the state of Quintana Roo.

“Riu has failed to comply with the agreement it made on October 9, 2015,” the judge’s recent ruling said. “as well those of various extensions authorized [in 2016].”

The judge also noted that Cancun’s three municipal wastewater treatment plants are at their limit and can’t handle the extra wastewater load the hotel would have generated, as determined by an environmental impact study the Environment Ministry did in 2015.

Earlier this year, the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur), which created Cancún as an affordable, sustainable vacation spot for Mexicans in 1974, weighed in more forcefully about its opposition. When Fonatur created Cancún as an Integrally Planned Center (CIP) — a government designation which has put Fonatur in charge of Cancún’s municipal facilities for the last 46 years — the plan was to have no more than 15,000 hotel rooms on Boulevard Kukulcán, Fonatur officials say. Currently, hotels on the boulevard have a total of 36,000.

“Fonatur is dead against over-densification of Cancún that doesn’t respect its original planning goals,” Fonatur’s legal director Alejandro Varela told the El Economista newspaper in February. “We believe that the number of rooms they are proposing far exceeds the capacity of services that Fonatur offers.”

Source: El Economista (sp)

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