An elaborate effort to bring street vendors indoors has proven to be a flop.
Last year, the city spent 5 million pesos to build an indoor mall in the heart of the downtown shopping district, where vendors and pedestrians struggle to share crowded sidewalks.
The Centro Popular de Comercio has free-of-charge spaces for 80 vendors, plus sanitation facilities, under the shelter of a roof. But the vendors are not impressed, and neither are shoppers. Today 75 percent of the market stalls are empty, and foot traffic is sparse.
The indoor market opened under the previous city administration in early summer 2015. Its location is prime: at Calle 61 between 54 and 56, a few blocks east of the Plaza Grande.
The current administration has proposed ideas to attract shoppers: anchor stores, a booth to pay electric bills, a “one-stop town hall,” radio and TV ads, and a CENDI daycare center that was promised when the mall was built.
The unpopular Centro Popular de Comercio is strategically located in the center of the city, and politicians have urged the city not to give up and close it down. PRI Councilmen have publicly asked the mayor, a PAN party member, to introduce a plan to make the mall live up to its potential.
The mall was build under the previous administration, whose mayor was a PRI party member.