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City center primed for high-rise growth

December 27, 2012

With the aim of repopulating downtown Guadalajara, local authorities are set to ease restrictions on high-rise housing.

Buildings in the historic city center have long been limited to a certain height, but amendments backed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Mexico’s Green Party (PVEM) would raise the threshold to five stories.

The height restrictions have long discouraged investment in downtown Guadalajara, with many older buildings left derelict and undesirable to buyers. While Zapopan’s population has skyrocketed in recent years, the number of residents in the municipality of Guadalajara has dropped by over 150,000 from 1,646,319 in 2000 to 1,495,182 in 2010, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).  The major reason for this is that Guadalajara has no space for expansion, being “fenced in” by its three neighboring municipalities (Zapopan, Tlaquepaque and Tonala) and by the Huentitan Canyon to the north.

The reforms would facilitate the sale of abandoned properties in the city center, by increasing the potential for profitable redevelopment. The Municipal Housing Institute would oversee redevelopment projects, stipulating that properties must be located within 350 meters of urban corridors in order to be eligible.

The new taller buildings would also be exempt from existing requirements that they have parking spaces, an amendment that has drawn criticism from some quarters.

“They are talking of authorizing five-story housing without parking spaces, which seems strange and irresponsible to us,” said Salvador Caro, a councilor from the Citizens’ Movement. “They should consider underground parking lots, like they have in Latin America and Europe,” Caro suggested, as a means of overcoming the inevitable congestion that repopulation would cause.

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