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Malecon Construction and Financing: What We Know and What We Don’t Know
Ron Walker - Guadalajara Reporter
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August 29, 2011
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Malecon Construction and Financing: What We Know and What We Don’t Know
Geminis first project, the underground parking lot at Lazaro Cardenas Park is mostly unused and leeks when it rains.

Regarding the ongoing construction of the new Malecon, we have been assured that it is being completed in a professional manner, in accordance with all specifications, in a timely fashion, will improve the image of the town and conserve the traditions of Puerto Vallarta.

In a local newspaper interview, the President of Geminis Internacional Constructora, S.A. de C.V., Victor Zayas Riquelme states that the Malecon will last 100 years. Since I don’t plan to be around at the end of this time to confirm his claim, perhaps we can take a look at some other projects his company has done in Vallarta. After all, we are now 3 months into construction with only 1 month remaining before the stated completion date and… no plans yet.

About 5 years ago, Geminis built the parking structure in Parque Lazaro Cardenas. After discussions at that time, the builder was able to save 3 large parota trees left standing when the park was completed. Well, actually, there were 4, but one of the parotas died, so then there were three. At that time, the Municipal administration of Gustavo Gonzalez Villasenor began to call the remaining green area above the parking structure a “botanical garden.” The remaining 3 parotas (Enterolobium cyclocarpum (Jacq.) Griseb.) can still be seen in Plaza Lazaro Cardenas, however, since the root systems of these large trees are primarily superficial, particularly in mature trees, the foliage on the trees, even with the summer rains, has always been limited since their “confinement”. But, the gesture of leaving these three sentinals as a reminder of the park’s formerly abundant plant growth, was not the only concession to the conservation of Puerto Vallarta’s “natural” environment.

Every summer in the parking structure below the Plaza, it rains just as if you were outside! Kind of reminds me of some of the caves in the Yucatan considered by the Mayas as the entrance to Xibalba…the Underworld.
parking Lazaro Cardenas PV

When I visited Plaza Lazaro Cardenas last week, there were 13 cars parked below in the hundreds of parking spaces available. The bathrooms were closed, but the ecos were incredible! Five years ago, these catacombs were announced as the solution to the traffic and parking problems of Puerto Vallarta. Today, the cavernous underground structure appears empty and little used.

Then there is the 10 story building just to the east of Plaza Lazaro Cardenas. Ostensibly, an empty building that blocks the view of the mountains from the Plaza. For those of you who may remember, there was a rather impressive bronze statue of Emiliano Zapata resting on his 30-30 carbine gazing toward the mountains above Vallarta. A mute image of the mythical Zapata, always somewhere in the mountains, ready, at any moment, to come to the aid of his people. Well, Zapata disappeared when the park was “remodeled” and Tata Lazaro Cardenas was moved from the west end of the park to the east end.

Tata Lazaro now seems to be throwing up his hand at the empty building across the street instead of proclaiming the expropriation of the foreign oil enterprises.empty building built by Genesis

And then there is probably the most well-known of constructions by Geminis, what has become affectionately known as the “Thumper.” Let me explain. The traffic bridge over the mouth of the Estero El Salado, Av. Medina Ascencio on the way from downtown Vallarta to the airport, produces a particular thumping sound as the tires of your car careen over the waterway. While it has always remained difficult to describe the location of the Estero El Salado to visitors, as in, just past the Palomas bullring, or, just before you pass the Naval Clinic, or, in the worst case scenario, just before you get to the Taboo table dance, as you fly over the bridge, your tires will report “Thump! Thump!” (as your front, then back tires go up on the bridge) and then “Thump! Thump!” (as you come off the bridge). Really quite rhythmic, when you think of it. Well, that is the “Thumper.” Has nothing to do with Bambi’s loveable, stuttering little sidekick. Has everything to do with an improper case of compaction during construction. In fact, when the bridge was being built, there was evidence of fissures in the bridge before it was completed, well reported in the local press.

O.K. So there you have some examples of construction projects in the Puerto Vallarta area over the past years by the company in charge of remodeling of the Malecon. The company which won out over more than 20 other competing companies. A company which already has quite a history in Vallarta, consistently wins contracts under stiff rules of competition and has produced some notable Vallartan landmarks.
It would have been better to make some comments on the construction plans of the Malecon, but, as we have seen, plans haven’t been made available on this project. And since the project is supposed to be completed within the next 30 days, I guess we had better look for some other evidence of the competence and experience of the company doing the job rather than expecting a set of plans.

And then there is the financing. How is it possible for the Municipal government, which has repeatedly stated that it has no funds to undertake such a project as the Malecon? Once the remodeling began in May, it was announced that the funds for the construction were coming from FONATUR (National Tourism Department). The federal government. This is no small revelation. I guess we should say that the Malecon is a federal project instead of a city project. FONATUR has a few tourist projects to it’s credit: Cancun, Huatulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatinejo, Los Cabos, among others. Big projects. Deep pockets. One of FONATUR’s most recent projects is just across the Ameca River…Riviera Nayarit. FONATUR becoming involved is what you would call a game changer. Is this good, is this bad? It’s certainly different.
Since Puerto Vallarta came upon the international tourist scene almost half a century ago, it always advertized itself as “a small fishing village at the foot of the majestic, tropical Sierra Occidental overlooking the sparkling waters of the blue Pacific Ocean.” Vallarta became famous as a mixture of gracious locals and international travelers. Proudly financed by small hotel owners, family owned restaurants and shops with an eclectic combination of yearly visitors and a growing number of permanent residents escaping the large cities of Mexico and the world…a hidden paradise.

+ Wexico

FONATUR’s specialty has always been to take pristine beach locations, and then overdevelop them. In a favorite expression of Mexican promotion, FONATUR provides the funds to “explode” (detonar) development. After a half a century of very successful, privately financed tourism in Puerto Vallarta, with the financing of the Malecon, the Federal Tourism Department has now been invited to “conserve the traditions of Puerto Vallarta.” The new kid on the block is bigger than all the rest of the kids who have been around for a while. Why do I get the feeling that the Malecon marks the form of an introduction: “I’m from the federal government, and I’m here to help you.”

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