Sellers of the Coffee Shopping Center still do not see a direction for the place –

Author: Natalia Trujillo Varela

Since 2017, when it opened its doors to the public, it has lacked a clear strategy to attract buyers.

The Coffee Shopping Center, with the motto “Everything is one place,” was the property that the municipality of Armenia built with the purpose of providing a safe space to informal merchants, thus reducing the invasion of the streets of the center. from the city. However, since it opened its doors in 2017never had the expected reception, neither from the merchants, some preferred to use the premises as warehouses to continue working on the street, nor from the buyers, since they see it as the place to go pay the water bill, but few Sometimes they see it as a safe or pleasant place to purchase a product or service.

To date, there are 163 locations available for rent, but expectations of success there are low. The same merchants who have remained there for seven years, by dint of perseverance and thanks to the clients they have built, believe that the place has lacked the support of Armenians and a true promotion strategy on the part of the different administrations.

Joaquín Vargas, a local merchant, described the economic and commercial activity that takes place there as very poor and terrible, and even mentioned that this is the third time it has failed.

“The truth is that I no longer feel like investing here anymore, what I have invested here I have lost, this lacks good administration and a good strong hand from the mayor’s office in terms of the management of public space, third, it lacks tough hand from the mayor, the Secretary of Government, Edua and the Police to improve the environment and look at the needs of us sellers,” he said.

The shopping center, according to the tenants of the premises, needs some representative or leader to organize them. “The truth is, here almost all of us are in debt because there is no trade movement, the economic situation here is tough, and from Edua they tell us that to be a member of the board those who apply must be up to date. Who is in charge? day? Here, not even the pensioners are up to date,” Vargas said.

Gildardo Hernández, another merchant, 66 years old, who is dedicated to selling hats, ponchos, backpacks and leather goods, canes, covers and crafts, described the sales he makes as regular, and even mentioned that it has been up to four days followed by not selling anything.

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“The problem we have here is the front part, the one that overlooks the CAM park, because the mayor knows, the Police know and everyone in general knows that there are other illegal activities and people no longer come here because they are afraid. ”Hernández said.

He added that very few people come in to buy, the clientele they have is small. “I have been relocated since 2000, we were from the street, then they brought us from the gallery, after the earthquake they placed us in the El Oasis shopping center on Carrera 18, and then they brought us here they told us that they were going to help us and to collaborate, but no administration has ever done anything, they only raise our rents. At my age I’m going to finish here as long as I can, but one survives here if one has extra help or from one’s family, because otherwise, it’s not possible, here one doesn’t earn enough to eat,” Hernández stressed.

Liliana Villalba, another merchant relocated to the Coffee Shopping Center, said that the conditions of the infrastructure are deplorable, which diminishes the attractiveness and discourages the entry of potential customers.

“Apart from the lack of maintenance, in lighting, in the facilities in general, the lack of cleanliness, and the replacement of the railings on the outskirts, there is very little security here, there is only one guard for the entire shopping center, He has to stay at the entrance because he cannot move from there, as there are almost no occupied premises, people do not enter, some corridors are completely empty, the inhabitants living on the streets relieve themselves on the outskirts, this keeps the smell bad, “Nobody is going to want to enter those conditions,” said Villalba.


The manager of the Armenian Urban Development Company, Edua -responsible for the place-, Marta Inés Martínez Arias, explained that inside the Coffee Shopping Center there are 490 commercial premises, 327 leased, 163 available premises and of which 102 correspond to the popular action of 433 of 2010, where the Fourth Administrative Court of the Circuit of Armenia ordered the census and relocation of street vendors in the city with the intention of giving control to the problem of invasion of public space in the city; However, outside of the people who were protected by the popular action, there are a total of 61 premises to rent to whoever wishes.

“The stores have a fee of $101,000, and we have seven anchor stores, two of them still available, we have a parking lot currently in operation and a parking lot that is not finished and we are trying to rent it, but we already have the construction license for the shopping center. It has expired so the person must take it out to finish the second parking space. Likewise, we have two LED screens, two public bathrooms on the second and third floors, and we finished the ones on the third floor just two months ago,” said the manager.

As strategies to implement, the cubicles that have brown walls will become glass to have better visibility of the merchandise to be sold, however, Martínez Arias mentioned that the shopping center has a problem related to insecurity and the population in conditions of street, therefore, despite the joint work with the EPA and the Government Secretariat, and sometimes Firefighters, cleaning and cleaning maintenance has been carried out on the affected outskirts.

“Despite the work we have been doing, it is insufficient because we would have to have a CAI or a police officer standing there all the time trying to lift up this street-dwelling population there or trying to prevent stolen things from entering and others leaving that are not. “they are”, mentioned Martínez Arias.

He explained that strategies have been carried out to promote commercial activity. “Since the last municipal administration we have made discount strategies on special dates, in alliance with Economic Development, with the Chamber of Commerce and with Fenalco, but, despite the fact that we did several activities, the environment does not help us at all. We are interested in the occupation of the anchor premises because with the occupation the sector could improve a lot because each tenant could maintain more order and care in their workplace. We have spoken with Economic Development to implement commercial strategies there,” explained Martínez Arias.

He mentioned that, despite the fact that, on a daily basis, applications arrive at the EDUA from people aspiring to occupy one of the premises, likewise, every week people vacate premises, the locations that are currently available do not interest them.

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“The requirements that we demand here are the same for any person who is going to contract with the state, such as the Public Service resume, photocopy of the ID, judicial and fiscal records and corrective measures, we ask for a co-debtor, declarations of assets and rents and what happens is that the best located premises are already occupied, so people do not want premises in the back or on the third floor, but access is immediate when people make requests to us.”

The Edua manager also explained that there is a very large delinquent portfolio, since there are people who since their relocation to the place have not paid their rent.

“We have carried out processes of those that have been abandoned as warehouses and that have not reopened, we have already recovered several of those. Even since the relocation, 102 people never attended and who were destined to occupy the premises and stayed on the street, the majority of the merchants do not come from the popular action, but from the street,” he explained.

He said that the municipal administration will seek the implementation of strategies that recover and put this important asset of the municipality into operation. “The merchants want people to come in, but the environment must be improved with the Police, Government and citizens so that each one contributes to improving this shopping center and the sector in general. Meanwhile, we continue working with Economic Development looking at what strategies implement to reactivate the shopping center,” said Marta Inés Martínez Arias, manager of Edua.


The Little Peasant Square, inaugurated in 2018, with the intention of collecting and including all the fruit and vegetable vendors around the Coffee Shopping Center in one place, is still adrift today and is used by homeless residents to sleep, perform their physiological needs, hide drugs, throw garbage and it is even a place that has been the target of theft in its infrastructure.

It is currently in the care of a caretaker, who tries to mediate and promote the care of the place; However, the outlook is discouraging, even more so when the sellers state that the place was not as promised. but they feel that they were left in a ‘hole’ or hidden, which also loses the interest of citizens to buy. Likewise, the sellers stated that not everyone fits there and the cubicles are very small.

Regarding the Placita Campesina, the manager of the EDUA, Marta Inés Martínez Arias, said: “Forcing people to move to the sector is impossible, from Bienes y Suministros and the Edua we have done work on the little square because the street dweller enters a lot, what we are doing is trying to conserve the space while deciding what to do.”

For its part, from the Government Secretariat, headed by Jorge Andrés Buitrago Moncaleano, it was explained that actions will be coordinated with the Police, which is currently in charge of the recovery of public space: “We continue to request the Police to intervene in space. public, but we must understand that there are people with complex situations, there are older adults, people with disabilities, we will continue generating campaigns to raise awareness among people, because our problem is with street shoppers and what we have is a problem of citizen culture. in the city, because if there is still someone who buys then there is someone who sells,” said Buitrago Moncaleano.

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