By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – New licensing laws will aim to prevent Ipanema’s main shopping street, Visconde de Pirajá, from being dominated by banks and pharmacies. In an attempt to preserve the character of the neighborhood any store hoping to open in Ipanema must, henceforth, apply directly to the Subsecretaria de Patrimônio Cultural (Secretariat for Cultural heritage) for a license.
A similar decree was enforced in Leblon last December, and like Leblon, the secretariat are working to ensure Ipanema remains varied a place that continues to attract locals, families and tourists.
According to Washington Fajarido, member of the secretariat for Cultural Heritage the reasoning is simple, “We need a sustainable balance of trade [in] the neighborhood.”
Nevertheless, despite these good intentions, opinions of those in Ipanema’s shopping district are divided. Demetrius Queirós owner of restaurant Fazendola, situated around the Praça General Osório, believes the Government’s intrusion is unnecessary.
He argues “The market is free. [At this] moment, you have a product that is successful, then [it] evolves into something else. The less interference in the private sector, the better.”
Plá Daniel, director of the Commercial Association of Rio, agrees with this view, adding “[Controlling] trade is not the solution. Ipanema brings together the residents of Vieira Souto and Cantagalo. The arrival of new stores is part of the dynamics of trade, popular or not.”
At the same time, there are residents who are in favor of the new regulations. Pedro da Luz, is Vice President of the Institute of Architects of Brazil (IAB). He believes the government is within their right to monitor Ipanema’s trade, stating, “A street with only banks has no nightlife. With a balanced mix between trade and housing, there is vitality; the occupation of the street is not seasonal.”
Mayor Eduardo Paes wishes to reassure residents and traders that the move will not impinge on any party, claiming “The aim of the decree is not to create disorders or disable the commercial activity, but we cannot let Ipanema lose its cultural identity.”
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