Although University of Cuenca architects have delivered revised plans to renovate San Francisco Square, don’t expect to see them any time soon. Cuenca city officials, who received the plans yesterday, say they need at least 25 days to study them before making them public.
The renovation of San Francisco Square has been a political hot potato for more than 60 years, as area residents and vendors have forced the city to abandoned several restoration attempts. The center of Cuenca civic life in the 17th and 18th centuries, the square has fallen into disrepair in recent years and is currently home to dozens of vendors of housewares and clothing, housed in unsightly metal buildings.
Otavalan indians sell clothing and other textile goods on the verandah on the north side of the square.
Renovation plans drawn up during the administration of Mayor Paúl Granda were thrown out by current Mayor Marcelo Cabrera based on complaints from vendors and some architects who claimed they did not fit with the architectural style of surrounding buildings. The Granda plan called for an open plaza with seating and planted areas, with current vendors moved to a basement level.
What is known about the new plans, according to Cabrera’s staff, is that it eliminates a parking facility included in previous plans and will try to keep vendors on street level, although in a new location. Emphasis will also be on developing pedestrian malls around the plaza.
Some of the renovation is already underway, as a former bank building on the south side of the square has been restored and is ready for occupancy, and restoration of the Cemuart artisan mall is ongoing.
As with the plans developed during the Granda administration, vendors in the square are complaining that their opinions have not been adequately incorporated into the process.