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.
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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.