Many people have been asking what is happening at Centro Comercial y Civico Puerto Rico as there have been various videos and images emerging of serious construction work throughout the centre, that nobody seems to know much about.  Almost all of the images being shared are around five years old. We first covered the renovation plans in our print edition of September 2015, and while some minor parts of the rennovations had begun some months ago, it seems the centre’s management have cleverly taken the opportunity, provided by #Tourism0 and the national State of Emergency, to drive forward long overdue plans for much more fundamental works that were first announced back when this was the only commercial centre of its type on this side of the island.  This will give them the unusual advantage of being able to take into account new social distancing rules which are likely to remain with us for several months or even years while the global Covid-19 crisis is brought under control. Well played, Shopping Centre Puerto Rico!

The original Puerto Rico shopping and civic centre, located in the south west Gran Canaria municipality of Mogán, first announced in 2015 that they would be renovating and updating the 40 year old tourist space with an ambitious plan to replace the shabby, ageing facades and walkways of this well-known commercial centre in the popular tourist town of Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria.

The operation was to be carried out with a private investment of €3 million, which the owners of the commercial premises were to contribute, which would allow for the complete renovation of around 65 percent of the building.

The renovation process first began back in April 2014, when architect Francisco Román won a public tender for ideas to modernise the busy centre, at the time the only one of its kind in the area.

The management of the centre described the announcement as an “historic milestone” having apparently reached a consensus between so many small business entrepreneurs to “join” forces in pursuit of a common project.

The centre was first opened in the mid-seventies, with investment from various proprietors who formed the first Community of Owners (comunidad de propietarios), and today it boasts 200 commercial and leisure establishments. Although it appears as a single large building right in the heart of Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, it is in fact divided into four sections, which reflect the modular manner in which it was constructed, having started with Fase 1 (phase one) and then grown over the decade through to around 1986 with Fase 4. The original plans announced in 2015 specifically focused on the first two, more southerly, sections of the shopping centre as they represent the most visible facades as seen from the main road Avenida Tomas Roca Bosch.  However it is expected that the entire outer facades will get a make over and extra bridge work is to be completed to join the upper walkways, which until now have remained separated.

Since those first hopeful announcements the project has been beset by delays and disagreements over financing, perhaps reflecting the difficulty in trying to get four separate comunidades, and more than a hundred owners, and their tenants, to all agree on the details of how and when the renovations were to be conducted.  In the five years that have passed, two brand new shopping centres have since been constructed in the town providing the offer of brand new infrastructure and major brand names to this sunny little corner of Gran Canaria, so popular with British and Nordic tourists, creating real competition for the original centre for the first time in its history.

Spain and The Canary Islands have been in a declared State of Emergency since March 14, with all businesses shut for several weeks, and borders closed to non-resident foreign visitors ,it seems the community management of the centre have decided to take advantage of the fact that outdoor construction work has still been allowed, and so have moved quickly to try to put in place the long planned infrastructure.  With foreign tourism looking less and less likely to begin again before August, and with many experts suggesting that even October may be the most optimistic we can hope for, the management of the centre have done well to use this time wisely and unstick a project that has been promised and delayed for more than 5 years.