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By Oliver Bazely, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Residents of Leblon met on Wednesday, August 4th, to discuss the proposed Bossa Nova Park construction set to be built on a site currently occupied by the 23rd BPM (Military Police Batallion). Once vacated, the site will offer no less than 40,000 m2 for redevelopment, under the control of the state government.

The Parque Bossa Nova with surrounding buildings, photo by Governo do Estado de Rio de Janeiro.

The space was initially earmarked for commercial and residential redevelopment, but the plans were not popular with residents and their legality under the ‘Rio Master Plan’ was debatable. Now, after more than two years of consultation, the Bossa Nova Park plan appears to have gained momentum.

The park’s plans include 25,000m2 of green space and just two buildings in an area where real estate is at a premium. The first of these will house a museum with 3000 m2 of exhibition space, while the second will include a 250-seat theater and a 200-seat auditorium. The theater building will also be home to a café, bistro and bookstore. It is hoped that the park will become a focal point for Bossa Nova music in the city, eventually hosting major musical events.

At the request of the local residents the 23rd BPM will maintain a presence at the site, being allocated a new purpose-built facility. One of the authors of the plan is the celebrated urban designer Jaime Lerner, whose innovative work in the city of Curitiba was highly acclaimed.

An aerial image of Parque Bossa Nova, showing the 'piano' design, photo by Governo do Estado de Rio de Janeiro.

The development of the Bossa Nova Park has not been straightforward, however, and some contentious issues still remain. Members of the Residents Association of Leblon have pointed out that there are already several cultural centers in the vicinity of the proposed park, such as the Casa Grande Leblon.

They had hoped that the site would be converted entirely to green-space, citing New York’s central Park as a model development. Specifically, the residents would like to see cycle-paths and exercise equipment installed. The residents also aired their fears that the park would become a ‘white elephant’ project. As an example, they drew attention to the underused Dois Irmaos (‘Two Brothers’) park in Upper Leblon.

The idea of a larger park may be a popular one with residents, but the financial burden of this project is less appealing. Some critics argue that the park would be difficult to properly maintain, and that the revenue from the commercial elements is crucial for the financial health of any development.

The next stage will be to find a construction firm to turn the plans into reality. The bidding process is in the early stages, and it is thought the successful bidder will be announced in the coming weeks. The principal building work is set to take approximately nine months, with the rest of the project to be completed within eighteen, and the estimated total cost of the project is in the area of R$68 million.

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