By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Infrastructure investments for the Olympic Games and vast, underdeveloped swathes of land have led Rio de Janeiro’s lesser-known Zona Oeste (West Zone) into a construction boom in recent years. Barra da Tijuca may have been on the radar for some time, but other neighborhoods in the area are now catching up.
The Zona Oeste of Rio de Janeiro consists of more than just the beach neighborhoods of Barra da Tijuca and Recreio, stretching on until Guaratiba further up the coast and Jacarepaguá, Realengo, Bangu and Campo Grande further inland.
The area has received massive infrastructure investments in recent years, the undeveloped space feeding the city’s need for more residential and commercial buildings as more and more people flock to Rio and the city’s sought-after South Zone becomes saturated. Together with the developments for the 2016 Olympic Games, 51 percent of which will take place in the ‘Barra’ Zone, Rio’s real estate focus is gradually shifting west. In 2012, Freguesia and Recreio dos Bandeirantes topped the list of new real estate projects getting the green light.
“If you count a single building as a project, we for sure have several hundreds in construction in Zona Oeste. Major constructing sites that span over dozens of condos [are], I would guess, in the fifties,” Agente Imóvel founder Johan Jonsson estimated the current status of development.
The focus of residential, as well as commercial buildings is centered around the future Olympic Games sites, which is also the site of huge investments in transportation infrastructure with the Transoeste, Transcarioca and Transolimpica Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) gradually coming online.
“Now, when the huge developments in Peninsula are about to reach the finish line, most of the action takes place in the Autódromo area [next to the future Olympic park], where we can see kinds of mini cities with shopping malls and so on being built,” Jonsson continued.
Avenida Abelardo Bueno, the main street north of the lake, is seen as the new commercial axis in Rio de Janeiro’s future. Today, already 20,000 people live there in 9,000 houses but numbers which are set to double by 2023 according to Secovi Rio’s latest predictions. The avenue is also home to “the City”, an entire new business district that is being built modeled after London with three towers including 1,033 offices plus a new 5,000 square-meter shopping mall.
Construction projects in the area tend to be large in scale, with much of the residential development consisting of super-condominiums with several apartment towers and amenities such as gyms, swimming pools and playgrounds. In Freguesia, the number of individual houses has fallen by three percent in the last ten years, while the number of apartments has grown by 47 percent.
“I’ve lived here since I was born and I think it’s a very calm neighborhood to live in. There is no noise and where I live it’s mainly a residential area,” Bruna Mazzoni, who lives in Anil, next to Freguesia, told The Rio Times. “A couple of years ago, construction increased a lot. The area is no longer as calm as it used to be and traffic increased a lot as well.”
The boom in the Zona Oeste has also had an effect on prices. The area is still far from the sums charged in Ipanems and Leblon, but the real estate appreciation has, according to Secovi, been “substantial”. Campo Grande saw prices rise 15.3 percent in the first semester of 2013, more than any other neighborhood.
With prices in Campo Grande currently at R$3,400 per square meter and R$5,549 in Jacarepaguá, Rio’s Zona Oeste offers a great alternative for those looking for a modern home without the price tag of the Zona Sul, and with considerably more space to show for it.