Changes planned for San Francisco Square project

Oct 29, 2014

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San Francisco Square is dominated by metal buildings housing vendors of imported merchandise.

There will changes to the renovation plans for Cuenca’s San Francisco Square, the city says. The original design, developed during the administration of former Mayor Paúl Granda, had been criticized by vendors who work on the plaza and by some architects.

Vendors in the central part of the plaza who sell mostly Chinese clothing and household goods, complained about the plan to relocate them to an underground mall, claiming it would hurt their business. They had appealed to Marcelo Cabrera, who defeated Granda in the mayoral election in February, to scrap the original plan.

At the same time, faculty from the University of Cuenca school of architecture claimed that the design, which featured a large, open plaza, did not reflect the historic nature of the neighborhood. They claimed that suggestions made by a UNESCO advisory team had been ignored.

Nancy Quezada, Director of Cuenca’s Historical and Heritage Areas Office, said the city will work with the University of Cuenca to develop a new design, incorporating recommendations from the  International Council on Monuments and Sites, (ICOMOS), which advised UNESCO.

Quezada did not say how long the redesign would take or how much it would cost. She said that the focus of the redesign is on the underground mall.

The 150 vendors in the central plaza area say they are being discriminated against because of the imported products they sell, saying that sellers of handicrafts and locally produced clothing are receiving preferential treatment.

Quezada said that the $8 million appropriated for the project will not be affected by the redesign.