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City may demolish more abandoned Centro homes

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A house that partially collapsed on Calle 44 last June was only partially demolished. Photo: La Vieja Guardia

Mérida, Yucatán — Five more abandoned Centro homes are at risk of collapse, forcing the city to intervene and possibly demolish them.

The municipal director of urban development Director Aref Karam Espósitos, said the homes will be inspected and their land records will be searched.

Two properties identified as an imminent risk were attended to immediately: one on Calle 65 at 44, and another at Calle 47 between 60 and 62, whose owner is unknown.

The Public Works Department has been empowered to carry out basic steps such as cleaning, removing invasive vegetation, and boarding up the sites.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, will determine if the homes are worth saving, and could allow their demolition.

The City Council has been in close contact with the owners of the other four abandoned buildings, said Karam Espósitos. The current municipal administration concludes after the July 1 general election, so whatever happens has to happen soon.

Last June, heavy rains brought down a historic home on calles 44 and 65 as well as the abandoned Sidra Pino bottling plant on Calle 63 in Santiago. The city boarded up those remains, but partially demolished a stone-front home that stood empty for decades on Calle 47.

The City Council is carrying out a housing census and a cadastral census. The former is practically finished. The database is being refined to make it public. The census will determine the number of abandoned houses and their state of deterioration.

Related: 2014 crackdown on crumbling Centro properties

A cadastral census is also being initiated to obtain information on usage, furniture and equipment. Karam Espósitos stressed that this process could take several years, but by the end of the administration there will already be “valuable information” about it.

Mérida’s Centro Histórico contains more than 20,000 properties, half of them houses and the other half commercial properties.

Of them, between 400 and 500 properties are abandoned at some level, said Karam Espósitos.

In 2016, 29 properties were targeted, mainly between calles 65 and 54. Intervention has been difficult because the legal status of each property is difficult to ascertain.

The city started boarding up derelict properties three years ago, at calles 44 and 51.

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