By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Bordered by Botafogo, Catete and Laranjeiras, Flamengo represents a different aspect of Zona Sul. This little corner of tradition and tranquility is well worth considering as an alternative to the ever-popular neighborhoods just to the south.
The roads Marques de Abrantes and Senador Vergueiro are the two main arteries through the district, with the former running along the line of the Metro on which both Flamengo and Largo do Machado are the local stops. Rua Paissandu dissects both roads, a historical route lined with imperial palm trees that once provided the frame for the Emperor’s view from the balcony of the Imperial Palace at one end to Guanabara Bay at the other.
Large beautiful, colonial homes can still be found along the road in various stages of restoration. Apartment buildings dominate though, and three new constructions will be available for viewing soon near the corner of Rua President Carlos de Campos and Paissandu.
Largely middle class and with a relaxed family-orientated atmosphere, Flamengo lacks the student nightlife of nearby Botafogo and the history of Laranjeiras, and is often overlooked as a place to explore.
This suits most residents though, who are happy to take advantage of the ten minute Metro commute to Centro’s business district, and so the fashion and youth have been largely ousted in favor of safety and convenience.
Rentals in the area are hard to come by, with many apartments having been in the same family for generations, and there is hardly anything in the form of seasonal availability. As a rough guide expect to pay around R$500 per 25 square meters but considerably more along the ‘noble’ roads such as Paissandu.
Praia do Flamengo is the neighborhood’s most important landmark and the focal point for leisure and recreation. Now a green oasis, the marshy bay once reached right up to Rua Praia do Flamengo and the entire length of the park up to and including the Santos Dumont airport is built on landfill.
Traditional and often beautiful tenement buildings line the original road, and the price of a two bedroom in Ipanema could afford a substantial open-plan Flamengo apartment with stunning views across the bay, for around R$400,000. The park (also referred to as Aterro, literally landfill in Portuguese) was designed by legendary Carioca landscaper Burle Marx, and its plethora of exotic trees and birds and the stunning, curved layout offering views of Sugarloaf and Niteroi make it a major attraction to the area.
A little further inland where Largo do Machado meets Catete at the edge of Flamengo is an enormous complex of apartments looming over Rua Bento Lisboa by the name of Quartier Carioca (above), completed last year. With some 800 apartments in total the investors were banking on taking advantage of falling interest rates and an increasing desire from the emerging middle class to own property.
As such an off-plan two bedroom cobertura would have cost just R$290,000, in 2008 and could now fetch nearer R$400,000. With a variety of family-friendly amenities offered including a pool, gym, bar and even a cinema and recording studio, it has proven popular with young families. Although due to the sheer size, there remain a large number of units still on the market.
The main drawback remains that while Flamengo Beach itself is a great place to relax, the Prefeitura does advise against swimming in its water. A quick look at its color on a bad day would be enough to put off the majority of intrigued visitors, though apparently not the locals who still flock in to it on weekends and holidays.
Never-the-less, as one of the safer neighborhoods in Zona Sul with a genuine sense of old-Rio community, it is well worth a look for anyone looking to buy and hoping to get a little more for their money.