The rejuvenation of Guadalajara’s historic center has become an obligatory commitment made by all candidates running for the job of city mayor.
But little has been done in recent decades to fulfill these endless pledges.
Periodic street beautification projects represent the tip of a very large iceberg. Dozens of historic buildings languish is various states of disrepair and only an unplanned fire obliged the city council to replace the tumbledown Corona Market with a new version. Projects are piecemeal, and vary at the whim of city governments, which change hands every three years.
Perhaps most damming of all is the fact that the greater part of the metro area’s new retail investment is now earmarked far from the center, in ritzy malls dotting the burgeoning western suburbs.
In addition, while the downtown core boasts a good number of lively bars and night-time hangouts for the young, it lacks any culinary tradition and is the last place any serious restaurateur would choose to locate an eatery looking to build a discerning and loyal clientele.
That’s something that Ricardo Villanueva, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate for Guadalajara mayor, says he is keen to rectify.
One of his ideas to detonate tourism and the city center’s sluggish economy is to develop a “corredor gastronómico” (gastronomic corridor) running from the Plaza Fundadores all the way down to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas. Villanueva believes more should be done to promote the “cultural combination” of Mexican food, tequila and mariachi – brands he says “give Guadalajara its identity.”
One would hope that if such as plan became a reality, the “gastronomic corridor” would offer more than just a string of carne asada joints packed with equipal furniture, but include a varied selection of quality eateries that reflect Villanueva’s stated aim of making the historic center “a modern, first-world attraction.”
While Villanueva is not exactly breaking the mold with his proposals, at least he is offering a concrete plan to do something about decades of wasted potential.
And if it means getting a better choice of meal in Guadalajara’s charming city center, that would be a feather in his cap!