Six historic district redevelopment projects are scheduled for 2017; part of the plan for a pedestrian friendly downtown
The Cuenca municipal council has named the first projects of the city’s plan to reduce vehicular traffic in the historic district. The projects, which will cost $15.5 million and will begin work in early 2017, were recommended by Spanish urban planning consultants, Ecosistema Urbano.
Among the projects are the rejuvenation of Parque Mary Corilé, located in the Luis Cordero neighborhood between Calles Miguel Angel Estrella and Juan Jaramillo, and Plazeta Pedro Toulop, behind the San Alfonso church. In addition, the Febres Cordero and Ezequiel Crespo School on Calle Vargas Machuca between Calles Sangurima and Vega Muñoz will be renovated for public events.
Funding for the work is provided by the International Development Bank.
According to Pablo Abad, Secretary of Planning of the Municipality, the projects are designed to restore life to public spaces and buildings for cultural, commercial and urban uses. “The first step in rejuvenating El Centro is to offer the amenities that attract residents and tourists and will, ultimately, help us reclaim the area from vehicular traffic,” he said. “This is part of a 15-year plan of 120 projects to transform the city center,” he added.
Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera said that Ecosistema Urbano’s plan emphasizes redesign of the traffic patterns. “The tranvía is the cornerstone to get people in and out of El Centro efficiently and without pollution,” he said. “Then we need the public spaces and facilities to engage the public in a variety of cultural and commercial events and enterprises.”
Ecosistema Urbano’s master plan designates several pedestrian-only streets in the historic district, in the area between Gran Colombia and Rio Tomebamba. It also envisions tranvía spur lines running south out of the historic district to hospitals and shopping malls.