The historic center of Mazatlán has many beautiful homes. Some have been restored to modern standards with new plumbing and updated electrical and some have been maintained by their original families.
There is a historic commission that oversees the district and there has been a pretty successful effort to make Centro an appealing place with a program for placing utilities underground and installing curb cuts for wheelchairs and lighting in the sidewalks. I love living here.
There are a lot of buildings here in Centro that would be wonderful homes if people with energy and money were to take on the challenge. The vigas (roof beams) on many have fallen in – but these old concrete and brick buildings will stand for a long time even without any protection from the weather.
Many people lament that (I have read this about other cities with historic cores, too) too many gringos move in to take on challenges like this and “force out” the locals. I don’t believe that this is exactly true, since all of the ruins I am talking about are unoccupied or barely occupied.
Real estate prices are being driven up, but taxes are still low so there isn’t the same effect like there is when gentrification happens up North.
Here in Centro in Mazatlán, I feel that gringos have upset the balance a bit…or maybe we do at first. For example, it took Paul and me a while to figure out that our block has kind of a pet crazy guy. He taps a coin on our gate and grins vacantly at us. We figured out to give him a peso or two. But it did take us a while and I imagine people wondered if we would ever “get it.” I know it’s a little frustrating for our neighbors to try to communicate with us. But overall I don’t think there are bad feelings towards gringos here.
I just thought for a minute and in our immediate vicinity there aren’t more than two gringo households on any block, and many blocks none.
Many of these houses will probably never be brought back to life since they are probably owned by families where a whole bunch of siblings owned a piece many years ago and through deaths, etc. the project of even tracking the heirs all down to see if they did want to sell would be a daunting one. So they sit, old and beautiful, but they sit.
I have been collecting pictures of ruins on my Flickr page, here.