Walk or Drive on the Malecón?

It has been nearly three years since the completion of the new Malecón in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The Malecón was widened by closing a major throughway during the reconstruction and rerouting traffic so that storefronts that were once street-front became beachfront Malecón real estate open to pedestrian traffic only.

Recently merchants in the area have voiced their concerns that the opening of the new Malecón and the rerouting of traffic has hurt business and they want the road reopened to automobile traffic. The mayor said because of the cost involved the city would need state money to take on such a project, seemingly to say that the merchants would not see the street reopened anytime soon.

Prior to the reconstruction the city developers sold local merchants on the plan by convincing them it would increase their sales and bring more people to the area.

Vallarta Daily News asked readers what they thought, keep the Malecón pedestrian only or reopen the street to automobiles.

What we saw was a collision course between businesses and residents. Overwhelmingly residents and travelers responded with “no, keep the road closed” while businesses made their case that they cannot survive too much longer without the drive by traffic.

“It seems like what we have here is a battle between business and pleasure” says Ian Parker, co-founder of Vallarta Daily News. “What is right for the people isn’t always right for business, and I think that is the argument worldwide when any expansion or business development happens in a community.”

Businesses in the area argue that the Malecón could turn into a ghost town with lower revenues and higher overhead since the completion of the Malecón. Two factors that businesses say they cannot manage for much longer and could be forced to close their doors, joining many others who have already gone out of business in the area.

As one local business man told Vallarta Daily, “How much charm will the Malecón have when all the local small businesses are gone and the streets only have loud flashy Vegas style nightclubs, because of the increased rent and lower revenues those are the only businesses that can afford the real estate along the Malecón any longer.”

Residents on the other hand have a different opinion.

“It would be stupid to reopen the Malecón to traffic! The only place where we can walk without pollution. The shops are not going to get better with traffic passing by without possibility of parking. Walking by the Malecón you can look at the shops and stop to buy. If people don’t buy it’s only because of their economic situation” writes one resident.

“Based on what we know, residents and tourists always get their way in a tourist town, and we don’t think this is any different, don’t plan on driving on the Malecón anytime soon” says Parker.

So for now local businesses will need to be creative in their marketing and work with the city on other efforts to turn tourists into shoppers around the Malecón.

32 Responses
  1. John McCloud

    Opening the Malecon to traffic is not going to reduce congestion, nor is it going to revive Centro. The number of cars in Puerto Vallarta is increasing annually as the population grows and income increases. More congestion is inevitable. Opening a few extra blocks to cars will have zero impact on reducing congestion. Downtowns all across North America suffered as people began moving out from the center and going to malls. The process is just happening later in Mexico. The only way to bring more people to Centro is to create more reasons for people to come there and increase the number of people living or staying there. Oh, and convince landlords to stop demanding exorbitant rents that are far beyond the capability of businesses to pay.

  2. It’s not about the businesses ON the Malecón hurting…it’s about the businesses on the streets just inland from it. Because of the increased traffic pressure on the 2 remaining vehicle routes, Morelos and Juarez and all the streets east and west that access them. They are being hurt by the obnoxiousness of the increased traffic…especially half-empty buses hurtling at break-neck speeds through col. Centro.

  3. Anna

    It should stay a peatonal – many parts of Latin America, Europe and the US have areas peatonales where people go to enjoy the shopping, the cafe’s, etc… we should close Morelos too and make Juarez two ways and really enjoy this area peatonal. This area needs much more promotion by the tourist board than it is currently getting – a show or event at Los Arcos just isn’t enough. We need a real Peatonal area and promotion and ofertas for businesses to thrive!

  4. Ellen Fenton

    While I sympathize with the shopkeepers I don’t understand how passing cars that can’t park on the Malecon anyway will benefit them. It is so much nicer as it is now. Please keep it closed.

  5. Open it back up to cars! That’s the way it was for decades before pinche gringos came down with their whining and forced the change. Keep the busses of but yes to cars!!

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