By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – From mega project Ilha Pura (Pure Island) to entire new neighborhoods, construction in Rio de Janeiro’s Zone Oeste (West Zone) is in full force. While the focus had long been on Barra da Tijuca, the center of new residential and commercial buildings has already moved deep into Recreio dos Banderaintes.
If one currently visits Recreio there are construction sites everywhere, from Macumba beach all to the Grota Funda Tunnel in the West and up to the Olympic sites in what is already Jacarepaguá. Barra da Tijuca, Recreio and Jacarepaguá together made up sixty percent of all construction in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.
Most of the new residential buildings in Zone Oeste are joined together in condominiums, offering not only a place to live, but also one to work out, play with the children, eat out and even go to the cinema.
Mega project Ilha Pura is one example of the new trend for condominiums that boost themselves as an entire neighborhood. The project, which is currently under construction and will serve as the Athlete’s Village during the 2016 Olympics, consists of seven condominiums with 31 buildings and 3,604 apartments in total on around 800,000 square meters.
Another example is “Pontal Oceânico”, a union of several condominiums that form an entire new “bairro” (neighborhood) on 600,000 square meters, which is around the size of Leblon. Pontal is set at the very west of Recreio just in front of the newly renovated Grota Funda tunnel that connects Recreio to Guaratiba.
In the around five square kilometers north of Avenida das Americas from the Sernambetiba canal to the Estrada Benvindo de Novaes more than twenty residential buildings have been announced or are already under construction. All of them are offered as state of the art condominiums with all facilities imaginable.
The boom can be seen in the entire neighborhood, not only in the sections close to the Olympic facilities. “In my opinion demand in Zona Oeste is not driven by the Olympics, but by macro factors such as middle class growth. Barra and its surroundings will continue to grow for many years to come,“ Johan Jonsson of Agente Imóvel, told The Rio Times.
So far however, prices have remained reasonable and approximately on the level of Tijuca. “The price development has been pretty stagnant on a rolling twelve month basis. The nine percentage increase we [have] seen here is only a few percentage points above the inflation,” he explained.
However, for others this is only a matter of a few years, “Recreio was the record neighborhood, both in number of new ventures and units launched. It is likely that in five or ten years the average square meter will increase as well,” predicts Fábio Pacheco, director of Lopes Imobiliária Rio, in a Secovi RJ report.
The construction of only middle and upper class residences in the area has drawn criticism to the projects, as the huge, fenced condominiums exclude everyone who doesn’t live there from an entire area. Mega project Ilha Pura specifically was criticized by Rio on Watch for its lack of social inclusion.