By Helen Trouten Torres, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The meaning of Leblon in Tupi Gurani, the language of the Brazilian native Indians who were the first to inhabit the area, is literally ‘island between waterways’, named because of the two canals that define the boundaries of the neighborhood from the Lagoa in the North, to the famous beach-lined Atlantic Ocean in the South. The canals are much smaller now, but to this day they mark the boundaries of one of Rio’s most exclusive neighborhoods.
Staggeringly, according to realtor Conrado Gracia of P+ Desenvolvimento Imobiliário, virtually anyone who owns a property of more than 75 m2 in Leblon can now be considered a millionaire. This brings to question just what is the attraction of this small but well located neighborhood.
Local resident Cota Kos has lived in the area for 33 years and loves the proximity to great schools, restaurants, shops, banks, doctors, dentists, cinemas, theaters and of course the beach. “I like to go everywhere on foot, even at night” she adds, pointing out the safe reputation of Leblon.
Leblon begins where Ipanema ends, at Jardim da Alah. Built in 1938, it was named as a reference to the 1936 film starring Marlene Dietrich “The Garden of Allah”. Perhaps it is fitting then that these canal gardens mark the entrance to the neighborhood that many of Brazil’s top actors and actresses call home.
Current average listing time for a property in Leblon is 120 days according to Agente Imóvel. The steep real estate prices in Leblon are due to popularity of the area and the value of the land. “Sea front property prices reflect at least 80 percent the value of the land and 20 percent the value of the building”, informs Conrado.
Former resident of a three story house on Jardin de Alah (which is now a chic apartment block) Dr. Max Andrade remembers when he used to fly his kite in the fields behind his house in the company of parrots and monkeys. Needless to say those fields have now been replaced by smart addresses though you might still be lucky enough to spot some tropical fauna in Leblon’s many charming gardens.
The leafy streets have a relaxed feel as flower and fruit sellers pitch up alongside boutique shops, high-end restaurants, delis and stylish bars.
The beach in Leblon, while not as popular as Ipanema beach, offers the same view and a variety of activities for health conscience residents, including yoga classes, tai chi, running groups and of course beach volleyball and foot volley.
Leblon stands as Brazil’s second most expensive real estate in the entire country. In the last year, the average listing price has increased by 25 percent. The current average price per square meter of a property in Leblon is R$14,500, according to Johan Jonsson of Agente Imóvel.
The average price to buy a one bedroom apartment in Leblon is R$818,500, two bedrooms are on average R$1.3 million, three bedrooms R$2.4 million and four bedrooms R$4.4 million. Penthouses in Leblon begin at R$2.5 million.
Rentals advertised in O Globo newspaper average R$2,975 per month for one bedroom apartments, around R$3,600 for two bedrooms and R$5,200 for three bedroom properties.