By Jaylan Boyle, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Nowhere is this frenetic changing pace of real estate renewal more apparent than in middle-class neighborhood Botafogo, nestled at the bottom of the valley that has the Lagoa Rodrigo da Freitas at one end and Praia Botafogo at the other. Soaring prices have already put it out of reach for many, and at the same time, making it more attractive to the affluent.
For better or worse, Botafogo’s geography gives the neighborhood a degree of isolation, located between several mountains separating it from Laranjeiras and Copacabana. This can make transportation problematic, although the Metro station helps.
Sadly, on the sands of Praia Botafogo, all you can do is admire the stunning view across the bay: it’s not recommended that you don the swimsuit for a dip, as the water is polluted to a hazardous degree.
Botafogo was named after the Portuguese settler João Pereira ‘Botafogo’ de Souza, whose nickname means ‘to set on fire’. However it was when Dom João VI’s wife Carlota Joaquina requested a country villa there, that the area secured it’s status among the affluent, as attested today by the many museums and galleries housed in the royal old buildings.
Now, urban renewal is being showcased here on a significant scale: a new through-road (Rua Nelson Mandela) that links the suburb’s main arterial streets Rua’s Sao Clemente and Voluntarios da Patria has recently been completed. The new street will hopefully make a significant difference to the congestion that has plagued the area.
Rua Nelson Mandela has paved the way for something not often see in the Cidade Maravilhosa: an American-style strip mall. Boasting everything from up-market botecos to dentists, not all the spaces on offer are filled yet, but space is going fast.
Utilitarian improvements aren’t all that are currently underway in the area: Directly next to Rua Nelson Mandela, a new as yet unnamed public park is under construction.
And yet while we can celebrate the beautification and greater ease of movement around the Botafogo area, there are other well-loved institutions that unfortunately must make way.
Known as a hub of live music nightlife, Botafogo recently said goodbye to the venerated Cinemateque Club, a stable venue and hang-out for aspiring musicians. Fortunately for Rio, Botafogo venues like Casa Matriz don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Comparing prices with last year, Botafogo is also predictably getting less affordable. In many categories prices have more than doubled. If you’re looking to rent, a one-bedroom apartment starts at R$1,300, and you will definitely be paying around R$2,000 for a reasonably comfortable two-bedroom.
A recent search of real estate prices in Botafogo showed that a “standard” 1 bedroom apartment realistically starts at around R$200,000 though bargains (and all the trappings therein) can still be found for less (the same search turned up 1 apartment for R$150,000). If you’re looking for a 2 bedroom apartment, expect to hand over more than R$350,000, though again a determined handyman might turn a profit after toiling over something cheaper.