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Heritage Preservation or Simple Gentrification: The Case of Quito-Ecuador

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Juan Ignacio Burneo

on 14 January 2015

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Transcript of Heritage Preservation or Simple Gentrification: The Case of Quito-Ecuador

Patrimony Preservation or Simple Gentrification:
The Case of Quito-Ecuador

Quito-Ecuador Short Facts
The city is geographically locates in the high central Andes
It sits at 2,850 mt above sea level (Almost 10,000 ft)
It is strategically located right on the equator
It was founded by Sebastian de Benalcazar in 1534
Regiona political center since colonial times
Quito is the capital city of Ecuador and the second most populus city in the country
It has over 2, 239, 199 as measured by the lastest national census in 2010
The city is also an industrial, academic and political center for the whole country.
It concentrates a great cultural and historical backgound
It holds an strategic and importnant political location in the region.
The Historic City Center
The city, together with Krakow in Poland was the first city to be listed in the World Cultural Heritage Sites of UNESCO in 1978
It has the largest and best preserve colonial historic city center in the Americas.
Patrimony preservation as an urban strategy
A strong public investment in private and public spaces in this area.
Historic colonial houses
Churches
Plazas
Streets
Markets
Governmental buildings
The discourse of "urban regeneration" and "urban rehablitation" is very strong and key for these investments.
Before the Decline...
The historic city center was the center of power, culture and society of the whole country.
The upper classes lived in this neighborhood, inhabitting the colonial houses that had been with their families for centuries
Where is it?
Historic City Center in the Quito
Plaza Grande (Main Plaza)
The banks, govermental officies, embassies and high end boutiques where all located here.
The cultural sites (theaters, musueums, and social clubs) where all concentrated in this neighborhood.
This was the core and the poor and middle classes lived in the periphery of this negihborhood.
The Cathedral
High Society
The Decline
The development of a new financial and social center in the north end of the city pushed people out of this neighborhood.
The 1940s, 1950s and 1960s were important transitioning years.
New streets, new neighborhoods, new public spaces (parks), new cultural spaces
They all pushed new generations out of the colonial center
The old residences were sold, rented or abandoned to decay through time
A new social construction of the neighborhood
From high class to working lower class
New shops
New neighbors further pushed the remaining residents out
A rapid decline in rent
Increased levels of
insecurity, crime, illegal activities, prostitution, drug market, etc
.
Less police vigilance and a negletion from the local & central goverment that refocussed time and resources into the new city center.
Reinvestment and Public Interest
After the UNESCO declaration in the late 1970s, the neighborhood began to experience a gradually, growing and sustained reinvestment
This has gradually transform its social nature throughout the years
The city implemented a series of city policies and bylaws that aim to improve the existing bilt environment of the neighborhood.
More on those early gentrifying years....
From 1978-1993 the city recieved $201, 800 from UNESCO for patrimony conservation and expert consultations.
The conservation of buildings and the municipal programes for patrimony protection began to gain force in the late 1980s and the 1990s.
A major problematic that the city had to face was that the "rehabilitation" of the neighborhood did not matched the current residents of that space.
More expensive hotels, renewed houses, expensive boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and govermental offices have displaced a whole segement of the population who cannot afford or enoy these luzuries.
The rehabilitaon projects laked an afordable housing componant and as a result of this people who live there are now unable to afford doing so.
The prices of rensidences have grwon exponentially and so have rent prices
Phase II
Creating Public Spaces
Second Half of the XX Century
Some of the
important
organizations
Embassies in the Historic City Center Proyect
There was an influx of both national and international funds to work on projects that dealt whith the restoration of buildings and patrimony in the city.
The first set of funding was directly linked to the strengthening and development of an institutional orgnaization to support those changes
Many international consultors were hired to help evaluate the conditions of the buildings and to help develop the institutional framework needed.
This is how city departments, organizations and public enterprises were created
Public-Private partnerships began to be a nom in this process of rehabilitating the old town.
Plan for the Rehabilitation of the Historic Center
This macro project to "recover" the city center was divided into two phases (Phase I and Phase II).
The project officially started in 1994
Before this, conservation efforts were based on emergency interventions to save structures and working towards intstitutional building.
Phase I of the project run until 2004 and it had an initial budget of $43.2 million USD.
The project was funded by the IDB, the municipality, private sector and the central government.
Five main focus areas:
Urban development and Public Space
Parking Buildings
Urban Equipment
Public-Private Partnerships
Institutional Strenthening
The case of Teatro Sucre
Before...
Decline years...
After "Rehabilitation"
From 2005-2009 and it had an operating budget of $10 million USD
It aim to tackle social problems
High destitution levels in the area
High levels of informal commerce
Prostitution and drug trade
Petty and violent crimes
A "zero tolerance" policy was implemented since 2003 to address these issues
A strong police presence (Tourism Police Division)
They pushed informal traders, homeless and sexual workers towards the margins of the neighborhood
Displaced from the "regenerated" and touristic areas.
This phase had no affordable housing component.
The ongoing project...
The process of gentrification of the neighborhood has not yet completed.
In the eyes of both the local and central government there is much left to do.
A new project for rehabilitation of the historic city center has been drafted and is currently in place.
It is embeded within the urban development objectives of the city for the next twenty years.
Millions of dollars have been promised as investment and are targeted directly to this neighborhood.
One of the big ongoing projects is the construction of public spaces through the demolition of buildings that do not match the colonial character of the neighborhood.
Project of the Concepcion Plaza
End result...
A hidden gentrification
The current project of patrimony conservation of the historic old city center in Quito is a disguissed gentrification project.
As mentioned by Neil Smith, gentrification has become a global urban strategy.
The gentrification process in Quito comes at a high cost of displacement and loss of public space
The new buildings and areas are targeted to the local elites and a growing in importance inteational tourist elite.
Juan Ignacio Burneo
jburneomontal@trentu.ca
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