May 20, 2024
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By Daniela Moina

The Historic Center is a prime example of this. It has become uninhabited because of lack of mobility, security and safety.

The abandoned assets of Quito, including the squeaky floor, damp smell, and worn paint are all causing concern. They are a reminder of Quito’s rich history but are on their way out.

According to the spokesperson for the municipality, there is no consensus on what number of abandoned properties are in existence. Diego Garrido, member of council of the Historical Areas Commission explains there is no updated inventory of heritage property, but Emilio Uzcategui the president of that same commission says there are over 500 abandoned properties.

Quito’s heritage, recognized in 1978 by the United Nations Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organization, is slowly eroding. Although it isn’t imminent, if Quito continues on this path, this designation could be lost.

Garrido explains, “It’s not easy that it happens. But we must do something about maintaining the historical and cultural assets.”

Quito residents don’t care about numbers because they are dealing with abandoned property head on. There are houses in La Recoleta that have been abandoned for more than 20 years. On Maldonado Ave., one house in particular has been a source for insecurity because, despite being closed, homeless people find a way to get in. They come there to smoke and drink. It’s full of garbage. Freddy Pazmino claims that the problem is real.

The main problem with older assets is when their owners pass away, there’s a dispute over inheritance or the owner simply no longer exists. We know this house is owned by heirs who live in Riobamba. He says, “There is no-one to be in charge.”

The subject who is ‘occupying’ the abandoned site approaches. Then he leaves. He prefers not to see the EXTRA crew when he passes by. The resident explains, “I would rather have an empanada stolen from me than to be treated badly.”

Elizabeth Roldan owns a heritage property. He claims he’s done all he can to maintain it. He says, “We are aware that we have a responsibility to keep it in good condition. However, dealing with the Municipality can be cumbersome.”

If you want to repair your roof, for example, you will need a written request. This isn’t always accepted on the very first attempt. They must only be made from tile. He claims that they could have been a bit more flexible.

Emilio Uzcategui, a councilor in the city of Madrid, acknowledges “that owning a property with heritage value is an inconvenience. It is therefore necessary to simplify the procedure.”

In order to achieve this, the Heritage Commission is currently drafting a new ordinance in which its members are seeking greater flexibility in certain procedures related to historical spaces.

Elizabeth feels proud that she lives in a home listed as heritage. He laments that not all cities are listed in this category.

She claims that there are at the very least 380 properties abandoned between Chimbacalle in the south and 10 de Agosto Avenue in the north. Uzcategui says there are 500 abandoned properties, not just in the centre of the city but in other rural parishes like Alangasi or La Merced. The mayor explains that the heritage can be found throughout Quito’s Metropolitan District, but the majority is in the colonial centre.

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