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A look at Mérida’s new convention center

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Mérida, Yucatán — El Centro Internacional de Congresos de Yucatán —The International Convention Center of Yucatán — has broken ground and is on track to book functions in the second half of next year.

This is a massive project on the corner of avenidas Cupules and Colón, with the potential to revitalize Mérida’s hotel zone as it brings millions of dollars into the local economy. The region’s capacity for lucrative convention contracts, for which the state has been campaigning since 2012, will have doubled once the complex is completed.

The next 18 months of construction, in the meantime, will generate 600 direct jobs, the state estimates.

The facility has been praised for its versatile architectural design, combining the efforts of Mérida architect Alvaro Ponce and Elias Estudio, an architectural firm from Guadalajara that specializes in conference and hotel spaces.

conventionmap2The new space will accommodate up to 22,000 attendees. It will have two terraces upstairs for additional conference functions, 10 offices, and nine bus bays, allowing for the simultaneous arrival of 500 people every five minutes. Underground parking will accommodate 467 cars.

With generously proportioned terraces facing the street, the building was designed to integrate with its surroundings, including a cenote discovered on the parcel, and several species of trees.

The city’s existing major convention center, Siglo XXI, which was built 7 km to the north in 1997, will remain in operation to complement the array of business offerings.

A half-dozen hotels surround the new site, which is just north of the city’s historic center and a stone’s throw from the Paseo de Montejo, and speculation has already surfaced that more brand-name lodges, and some high-end restaurants, will be built aside the convention center, on Calle 62.

Business leaders had lobbied for a more centrally located, and up-to-date convention center to attract larger trade shows and fairs.

“It is one of the most important investments the state has had in a long time, if ever, along with the construction of the new brewery,” said Carol Kolozs, owner of the hotel Rosas & Xocolate and head of a business group overseeing the Paseo de Montejo’s renaissance. “This new convention center is a very different investment in a good way … it’s something that will endure and will generate a permanent economy.”

Sources: State government, news agencies

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