Dreaming Downtown into a New Existence
Published Oct 31, 2007 - (Updated Dec 5, 2012)
Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Fall/Winter 2007 issue.
It takes a visionary to conceive a new reality for a space long taken for granted. We’ve all appreciated an evening or morning stroll on the Malecon, bumping into friends or acquaintances and exchanging a few pleasantries, if not salacious gossip. As the city grows and its features mature, we take a look at conceiving a Vallarta that will march confidently into the future.
Architect Cachi Perez grew up in the streets of a Puerto Vallarta very different than what we know today. He dreams of an earlier time that he believes we can recreate again, not only in our downtown but all along the coast. “In this plan for the renovation of Puerto Vallarta, I want to promote contact both with people and with nature. It’s what we miss most as the city grows up around us. I included elements that will allow us to have that contact not only with the sea but with the jungle, the rivers, the beaches and even the air above. Best of all, we can spend more time together around the activities that we all enjoy so much: music, dance, sports and time together.”
Imagine a much wider malecon that not only extends farther along the coast but also into the sea, the possibility conceived by fashioning a series of reefs off the downtown area. Designs for this malecon include a classy outdoor theater at the edge of the sea; performance areas with shade and public services such as bathrooms and outdoor beach showers; thematic parks for the entire family, including a focus on the sea, marine turtles, fishing and more; kiosks, fountains, water play areas and, finally, a number of small, secure beaches for family fun. The new malecon, extending to the Sheraton Hotel, would provide walking access via an overhead ramp to the sports stadium. Lanes of trees would provide shade for walkers in both directions: south to Playa Conchas Chinas and north to Marina Vallarta.
Physical activity will be the focus of bike routes leading from pedestrian areas into the mountains via trails following the winding path of the river (Pitillal, Cuale, Ameca), a pilot project that will be easy to duplicate anywhere along the coast. The space above will feature an elevated gondola, also following the river. This combination of transportation and sightseeing would benefit the areas inland along the river without adding a highway that could endanger the naturally lush jungle. Viewing points would be erected to encourage tourism, with local homes selling products, fruit and other merchandise along the river and restaurants and cafes in safe zones. Bridges crossing each of the rivers would allow pedestrian access, with service areas included in the underpass area.
Transportation would also be the incentive to construct a series of reefs along the coast. While eventually used to connect a system of piers that could handle marine ferries, the water highway would allow for a regular transportation network not only within Banderas Bay but beyond. Plans include a pier at the airport to allow marine connections for those arriving by air. A transfer would help bypass the growing traffic along the main arteries to the coastal resorts and hotels. Smaller water taxis could complete the transfer by handling pick-ups of passengers with luggage.
“This plan,” adds Cachi, “is an ambitious one that will bring Puerto Vallarta back to the level of the people. We not only want to enjoy it ourselves, but we want our visitors to appreciate the qualities that keep us here or brought us here in the first place.” Having been accepted by the downtown renovation committee, the next hurdle is acquiring funding for the project. While some assistance will be requested from state or federal levels, it basically comes down to private funding to create the Vallarta of our dreams.