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Hundreds of buildings in Mérida’s Centro Histórico are unsound, says a new report

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Abandoned homes in Mérida’s Centro are not just an eyesore, they are outright dangerous. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Despite efforts by state and municipal governments, Mérida’s Centro Histórico is home to hundreds of abandoned and dilapidated properties. 

According to the city, of the 6,000 structures in Mérida’s historic center, 300 are structurally unsound.

Although the poor state of several of these structures is evident at first glance, others are less obvious.

Aside from being an eyesore, many of these buildings pose a safety hazard, as cave-ins are liable to result in injury or even death.

Reports of structures collapsing are a relatively common occurrence, especially after particularly heavy storms. Earlier this year a section of the roof at Fantasias Miguel on Calle 58 collapsed while the store was open. No one was injured.

Even on major streets such as Calle 60, once gorgeous homes have been allowed to deteriorate. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht.

In an effort to improve the cities image, for well over a decade, Mérida’s government has run restoration programs to address this issue.

Earlier: Building in Yucatán, Part 2: Permits and contracts for the beach

But critics of these programs note that most restorations spearheaded by the city are merely cosmetic and do very little to improve structural integrity. 

“The viability and safety of these structures is ultimately the responsibility of their owners. The city can help, but we can’t be expected to bear the responsibility of keeping up every single structure in Mérida’s downtown, which is the second largest in all of Mexico,” said Enrique Ancona Teigell of Mérida’s city hall. 

While many newcomers to the city fantasize about restoring homes in Mérida’s historic center, many of which have been abandoned for decades, they often come to realize that it would be far cheaper to start again from scratch.

But it is important to keep in mind that when building downtown, you will not be allowed to alter your facade and other elements that will be pointed out to you upon inspection from INAH. 

For more information on permits and buildings in Mérida’s historic center, check out our handy guide.

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