By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Barra da Tijuca in Zona Oeste (West Zone) is a sprawling neighborhood that hosts many of Rio’s events with Riocentro, HSBC Arena and Citibank Hall to name a few venues. In September it will attract hundreds of thousands for the Rock in Rio 2013, and will look forward to the bulk of action in the 2016 Olympics.
Real estate development has followed the increased attention in recent years, and many Rio residents shifted their homes to the new area in favor of the spacious apartments and calmer streets.
Leaving Zona Sul, Barra da Tijuca is located in the bay after São Conrado, south of Jacarepaguá and shares its beach with Recreio dos Bandeirantes to its west. It is one of the only neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro that was planned with developments starting in the 1970s.
Since then Barra has gained in popularity among the Rio residents, and will likely continue to do so in the future. The population of the neighborhood is estimated to grow by 125 percent by 2020, according to a 2013 study by Instituto Pereira Passos.
“Many of the families who attend [here] enjoy the slower, family friendly, and more open feeling that Barra has. Be warned though that a car is certainly beneficial in traversing the suburb,” Michael Lindsay, American expatriate and director of the Rio International School told The Rio Times.
Swedish expatriate, Johan Jonsson, of Agente Imóvel and also a Barra resident, explains that Barra has changed a lot in the last five years. “When I first came here Olegario Maciel was a quiet street with only one padaria […]. Today Olegario is boiling with bars and restaurants that fill up every day of the week.”
With its late construction boom, vast space and wide streets that have led to the neighborhood’s nickname as “Miami of Rio”, Barra is also attractive for business offices. It houses the headquarters of many international firms, such as Shell, Nokia and Michelin and has the highest concentration of shopping centers and supermarkets of the city; among them the largest shopping center in Latin America: BarraShopping.
Barra will also be the main hub for the 2016 Olympics, as it hosts the main Olympic Park with fifteen venues and will be home to the athletes in Barra’s own Olympic Village.
By 2016 further BRT lines will link it with the Olympic site in Deodoro and Galeão airport, while the new Metro Line 4 (subway) will take passengers to Zona Sul (South Zone).
With the boom in real estate development in Barra da Tijuca in the last years, most residential buildings are fairly new and modern. In many cases, they are built as large condominiums with several apartment buildings and amenities such as swimming pools, balconies, playgrounds and gyms.
“My family and I have enjoyed the suburban lifestyle Barra provides. Moving here from a house in Arizona, the ability to reside in a home or an apartment with amenities has been truly beneficial for our adaptation to Rio,” Mr. Lindsay shares.
Although until the metro is in place the commute can be difficult, being away from Zona Sul also means getting more space for your money. In July, purchase prices were at R$8,918 per square meter and had risen 12.7 percent in the last twelve months.
Rent prices have even stagnated this year at R$38 per square meter and have only risen 4.7 percent in the last twelve months, as the main price increase in Barra took place in 2011. Today, a two bedroom apartment with around 70m2 costs between R$1,800 and R$2,500.