By Jack Whibley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday (June 2nd), the streets of Tijuca will once again fill with football (soccer) fans on their way to watch Brazil versus England at the newly re-opened Maracanã Stadium. The renovation of the stadium, and the designation of the Maracanã Zone for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have helped to ensure that Tijuca remains a popular neighborhood for Cariocas with property prices continuing to rise.
Tijuca, meaning marsh or swamp in the Tupi language, lies in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) between the Maracanã and the Tijuca National Park. It is popular with commuters who are able to take the metro from Saens Peña station into Centro and on to the beaches of Zona Sul (South Zone).
Tijucanos, as the locals are known, are proud of their neighborhood and with good reason. The area has a number of famous musical sons including Tom Jobim, Tim Maia and Milton Nascimento.
Some of Rio’s top samba schools have their homes in Tijuca, including Unidos da Tijuca, 2012’s Carnival champions. Tijuca has also turned out sports stars including Mario Zagallo, the first man to win the football World Cup as a player and a manager.
The Maracanã was closed for renovations in 2010, and although originally due to be ready in December 2012 has just reopened in time for the Confederations Cup this month. The neighborhood had long benefited from the stadium, and now once again many of the fans going to the matches will be lining their stomachs at the bars near the stadium in areas such as Praça Varnaghem.
While the area is going through new changes, Livia Jatoba, a Carioca explains. “In my opinion the changes started in the late 90s, when the Tijuca Shopping was built. My friend that lives in Tijuca too says that everything got much better in the last five years, specially with the UPP [Police Pacification Unit].”
“My neighborhood in Tijuca got really better after the UPP, but [...] nowadays, the police rounds during the week days are not as frequent as it used to be in the last two years… and I see Tijuca with more people living in the street and burglars waiting for an opportunity. I hope it does not go back to what it used to be.” Jatoba shares.
Certainly in 2016 Tijuca will be buzzing, when the Maracanã hosts the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics. As part of the Olympic legacy, the Maracanãzinho arena (next to the Maracanã) will continue to be used as the premier volleyball facility in Brazil. It will also be improved through the rebuilding of its warm-up halls, which will provide training facilities for local, regional and national teams.
All of this means that Tijuca remains one of Rio’s most popular neighborhoods outside Zona Sul with property prices continuing to rise. Livia Jatoba tells The Rio Times: “I think it will get more expensive, specially for rentals. And the Maracanã area was always known for a lot of people living in the surrounding streets.”
In July 2011, one-bedroom properties averaged around R$215,000, two-bedrooms R$343,000 and three-bedrooms R$467,000. Current online listing data shows that those looking to buy in Tijuca can now expect to pay around R$368,000 for a one-bedroom property, or R$550,000 for two-bedrooms, with three-bedrooms setting them back R$750,000.
The the average one-bedroom apartment now goes for R$1,550 per month (excluding taxes and condominium fees), compared to an average of R$1,000 two years ago. A two-bedroom apartment is likely to cost around R$2,200 per month, up from R$1,500 in 2011, and a three-bedroom apartment is likely to be around R$2,600 per month, as compared to an average of R$1,700 in 2011.