By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – At the east end of Ipanema, bordering Arpoador and Copacabana, lies Praça General Osório, an unofficial entry point to the neighborhood. As the area is a transport hub bordered by busy streets, it has been known more as a thoroughfare than a destination, but that perception is starting to change.
In year’s past it was Shenanigan’s and the Irish Pub that drew Ipanema nightlife to the praça (square), which is named after a military hero from the nineteenth century. Now some new bars, restaurants and shops are continuing to change the face of it and are attracting a new crowd.
“This area has a huge potential, it is the heart of tourism in Zona Sul (South Zone) and nothing much happens in it, except at Carnival,” says Guillaume Humphry, a co-owner of the recently opened Bar 48. “The Osório square is ideally located, not far from the beach and very close to public transport.”
His bar, on Rua Teixeira de Melo, was previously an open-fronted Cross Fit gym and before that a garage. Now, with an industrial interior design, wooden stools and barrels for tables, it is a buzzy bar, often with live music, where people spill out on to the sidewalk.
“We are open till 3AM which makes the street safer, people are not afraid anymore to cross it at night any more. The neighbors are also very happy because the increased security – and we are doing our best not to annoy them. This area of Ipanema is getting better month by month,” he adds.
Also Canastra, a boteco-style bar one street over, has seen great success with its simple formula of simple, good quality local food with imported wine. It operates from a small space that was once a building supply shop. Now its customers, who are a mix of Cariocas and expatriates, fill the street almost every night of the week.
Big Nectar, a typical Carioca juice bar on the square between the two bars, has just recently been refurbished. Along the road, the cartorio, where officials notarize documents, has moved into one of the shopping centers and been replaced by a new pharmacy. On the south side of the praça, Makis Place, a sushi restaurant, now operates next to açaí shop Amazonia Soul and B de Burger runs a busy burger joint on the next block. These new additions and cosmetic improvements are improving the area.
“The commercial prices of the area will have been revitalized by the new bars and shops opening,” says Juliana Guzman of real-estate company, Rio Exclusive. “Residentially it was never an exclusive area, it was relatively cheap, but prices in Rio can vary from building to building.”
Rio Exclusive currently has a three-bedroom penthouse for sale on the edge of the square for R$7,200,000 or nearby a smaller apartment, which also has three bedrooms, for R$1,850,000. Given the strength of the dollar and the pound against the real, many of the company’s customers are coming from abroad.
Rio Exclusive has chosen to open a second office on the square ahead of the Olympics. They have another location in Copacabana but hope to attract foreigners passing through General Osório and open the shop there on Sundays for people who come to visit Ipanema’s famous hippie fair which happens every Sunday.
Currently Rio’s Metro Line 1 ends in General Osório. It is due to be connected to the new line extension in June, before the Olympic Games. When the work is finished the square will be connected to the rest of Ipanema and Leblon all the way to Barra and will be a main transport artery for Olympic visitors. It will, no doubt, further increase the footfall in the area.