City officials and University of Cuenca architects presented their plans for the redesigned San Francisco Plaza Wednesday and vendors who currently occupy the plaza announced they are ready for a fight.
The plans were unveiled in the Chamber of Industries auditorium to an audience that included the vendors, Chamber of Commerce officials and city planning personnel.
As presented, the new plaza will be an open mall that will be occupied during the day by movable sales stations where vendors can sell their wares but that can be removed at night or on special occasions when the plaza will be used for public events. The city says space has been allocated to vendors in the Cemuart and recently renovated Pasaje de León buildings to store their goods at night. The city said it would allow 112 mobile sales carts in the square and along its sides during the day.
Leaders of the organization representing the vendors are demanding a private meeting with Mayor Marcelo Cabrera and say they consider the new plan “an insult.” They repeated their threat to go to court if changes are not made that meet their approval, which include the right to have permanent sales space in the plaza.
Pablo Barzallo, director of the municipal historic preservation office, says that San Francisco Square is a public area and should be available to citizens and tourists as well as vendors. “This is a space for everyone, not just those who currently occupy it. Our plan is to restore it to the purpose it served 100 and 200 years ago, when it was the center of public life in Cuenca.”
Barzallo and the architects say they envision concerts, food and crafts fairs, and other events in the plaza.
City officials say that work on the plaza will begin in March 2016 and will take about a year to complete. Eight million dollars have been set aside for the project.