A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article titled “Airport Land Grab” reflecting the debate that broke out between Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera and Secretary of Transportation and Communications (SCT) Gerardo Ruiz Esparza.
The two officials differed on their view on the future of the 570 hectares of that piece of prime real estate to be emptied once the Mexico City International Airport operations in 2022 at the latest. In my writing I had put it at 2019 according to the info I had at the time.
Given the importance that property will have when the time comes, and the difference of opinion not just of the above mentioned officials, but of a crowd interested in participating in the future of the property, the SCT press department sent The News a statement in which “the government of the republic of Mexico outlines its positioning regarding the land now occupied by the Mexico City International Airport.”
It makes it clear that the current airport will continue operations “at least for the next five years” and long after the new airport opens up in 2022 at the latest. It will be only then that the “reconversion procedure” of the land may start being considered in terms of whatever impact a new use may have on the surrounding area, which has 6.4 million inhabitants, not three million as I had pointed out in my article.
When the moment comes, SCT, the current airport operator, along with the Secretariat of Agrarian and Urban and Territorial Development (Sagarpa) will issue a “technical diagnosis” for the best use of the land.
“The land represents a vital space for the federation, for the State of Mexico and Mexico City, reason for which millions of people will be affected by the social, environmental, cultural and economic endeavors that are carried out on it.”
At present, the land is highly valuable given the operational airport facilities two terminals, national and international, and big plane landing strips have a great value given federal monies invested in them.
It is important for the SCT to oversee the old airport continues to be operational as it may still be of service to the 21.1 million people living in the metropolitan basin – described as the Valley of Mexico – who represent 18 percent on the nation’s population. Foreseeing an alternate airport is not a farfetched idea.
Whatever the future of the land of the current airport may be designed, says the SCT clarification notice, according to Constitutional Article 115 that says that in cases like this one the use of the land must be done in tandem by the federal, state and municipal governments in the area which involves 12 State of Mexico municipalities and three Mexico City boroughs, plus the federally controlled land.
A feasibility study, says the SCT report, has already been carried out by the Metropolitan Autonomous University under architect Roberto Eibenschutz which outlines some of the possibilities for the use of the land.
Previous studies have also been made by the Mexico City Airports Group which is also serving as a reference framework for the area’s future urban development. They foresee a regional, rather than a local project to clearly articulate the area’s heavy vehicle traffic mess at the present time.
Yet, says the document, “the government of the Republic has an inalienable duty on the subject that the land is vacated in due time and that its future must be defined from a national and metropolitan perspective.”
“Therefore,” says the SCT notification, “we will continue working in coordination with the Mexico City and State of Mexico administrations to coalesce a planning effort that yield exemplary results.”
In the end, says SCT, the land will be a legacy for future authorities to make the pertaining decisions according to their authority and timing.
Summing up, it is still too early for anyone to start speculating on what will be of the 570 hectare prime piece of land.
This clarification should end arguing among officials over the destiny of the airport at least for the meantime, but for sure, the eyes of many a politicians are winking with what they could do with the yet to be vacated property, if they could get their hands on it.