Hotel Riu Palace Peninsula in Cancún. Hotel Riu Palace Peninsula in Cancún.

Judge halts work on $96-million Riu hotel

Project stopped due to concerns over mangrove forest

The suspension of a second tourism project in a Cancún mangrove forest may be the final chapter in what for some has been unrestrained development in the Mexican Caribbean.

Just over a month ago, a judge determined that all work on the Malecón Tajamar project should be suspended after social outcry over the loss of a mangrove ecosystem and the revelations of irregularities in the process of granting permission for the project.

Now, a judge has halted construction of the US $95.6-million Hotel Riviera Cancún. The Spanish hotel chain Riu Hotels & Resorts intends to build two 70-story towers in the Punta Nizuc area of Cancún’s Hotel Zone, off Boulevard Kukulcán.

The 530-room facility would be the fifth Riu property in the state of Quintana Roo.

The judge explained that his decision to temporarily suspend all works was intended to “prevent any act that entails the removal of mangrove forests and all and any kind of vegetation or organic matter, as well as the use and exploitation of national waters and/or resources, and land reclamation.”

The Riu towers are being built on a piece of land that lies between two natural protected areas.

The project had earlier been rejected the Environment Secretariat, Semarnat, but last December it approved the project after 30 rooms were removed, and despite the classification of the area as one of “critical environmental vulnerability.”

The judge also found that the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur) had illegally sold a beach access road to benefit the Riu development.

The municipal government of Cancún also helped pave the way for the hotel by approving a change to the land use category of the area, which originally limited its density to 75 rooms per hectare and its height to three stories.

After the modifications, the density increased to a maximum of 565 rooms per hectare, and the height limit was extended to 70 meters, or 2o stories.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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