Mexico City’s new government is planning to repopulate the capital’s historic center by building as many as 7,000 new social housing units.
Dunia Ludlow, who will head up the city government’s Historic Center Authority (ACH), told the newspaper El Universal that in its first year in office the government will conduct an investigation to determine the ownership of land and vacant properties in the area.
Construction of the new dwellings could follow on 100 lots, she said, explaining that the ACH has discussed the plan with the city government’s Institute of Housing (Invi).
Ludlow explained that in 1950, around 400,000 people lived in Mexico City’s downtown but the population is now just under half that number at 198,000.
The biggest exodus was from the area known as Perimeter A, which surrounds the zócalo, Mexico City’s large central square.
Relocation of the National Autonomous University (UNAM) around the middle of the last century and the devastating 1985 earthquake both played a role in the depopulation of the city center.
In a less central zone of the downtown known as Perimeter B, Ludlow said, deteriorating infrastructure caused the population to decrease which in turn led to an increase in crime and insecurity.
She said the new administration is inheriting a historic center with problems such as high levels of informal commerce and rising insecurity. But she expressed confidence that things would change for the better because soon-to-be president López Obrador plans to live in the National Palace, located opposite the zócalo.
“. . . Local public security problems will become national security problems,” Ludlow said.
Ludlow also said the government could collaborate with the owners of largely vacant buildings in order to rent as many as 3,000 living spaces to low-income residents.
She explained that there are many buildings where businesses occupy the ground floor but the higher floors are completely empty or used only as storage space.
Ludlow added that in Perimeter B, there is also a lot of interest from the private sector to invest in the renovation of empty buildings.
She added that the new administration, which will be led by Morena party mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, will carry out repair work to improve the city center’s public plazas, sidewalks, and streets.
Mexico City’s historic center is home to many of the capital’s most famous tourist attractions including the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Templo Mayor archaeological site.
Source: El Universal (sp)