10 November 2017 – Expansión
On 4 April 1910, King Alfonso XIII seized a silver pick to symbolise the start of the construction of Madrid’s Gran Vía. It took 21 years to finish the 1,306m long thoroughfare, which, as well as connecting the east and west of the capital, became a showcase for large department stores (today’s multi-nationals fashion chains), cinemas and theatres (of which less than half of the original spaces are now left) but, above all, a catwalk for passers-by of every kind; because Gran Vía is a concentrated example of the 21st century society.
And this road is going to be subject to construction once again from February next year, with the aim of restoring value for two of its major stars: the pedestrians and the historical buildings that stand tall on this street, which we barely have time to appreciate given the frenetic pace of life today.
This change will undoubtedly have consequences for the real estate market in this area, which is already quite unusual. “It is a neighbourhood with just a few, very special homes and so logically, they are going to go up in value significantly”, says Julio Rivero, real estate consultant for the central region at Engel & Völkers.
For Daniel Díaz, architect and agent at Lucas Fox in Madrid, “giving pedestrians more space is something that is being done in all of the major cities in Europe. It makes a lot of sense on Gran Vía because it has more people walking along it nowadays than it does vehicle traffic”. Díaz recalls the case of Serrano and how the reduction in the number of lanes and the widening of the pavements there has been a revulsive, improving trade in the area.
Gran Vía has so much force that it magnetises the area, and almost twenty streets flow into it, with a lot of life of their own, such as San Bernardo, Valverde, Fuencarral, Hortaleza and Barquillo. The manager at Lucas Fox predicts that this reactivation will have a porous effect: “The benefits of pedestrianisation are going to expand to the adjoining streets and squares, such as Plaza de Pedro Zerolo and Calle Fuencarral, which have more homes that are going to go up in value”. For Díaz, this will attract the domestic market to the area once again, which has been dominated by tourists and young people in recent times.
Although none of the experts consulted doubts that the quality of life will improve, it is clear that some people will inevitably lose out. Ana Calderón, Director of Real Estate at Home Select, the real estate consultancy that manages several tourist apartments in the area, indicates the damage that the limitations on traffic will have for properties owners in buildings such as Gran Vía 48; they also purchased parking spaces in a large underground car park there (…).
The Town Hall’s future project has been explained in several different ways (…) and the details of the plans have not been completely defined, but it seems certain that the current six lanes will be reduced to four. In this way, the 55,000 vehicles that currently travel on this thoroughfare every day will be reduced to just 10,000, according to the Town Hall’s forecasts (…).
According to Sergio Fernández, Director of Retail at JLL, the changes will have a clear beneficial effect for shops, above all due to the plan to widen the pavements, which will be undertaken to resolve the severe pedestrian (traffic) jams that the street suffers from on the weekends and during peak shopping times (…).
The new face of Gran Vía will require an investment of €9 million and is likely to be ready by the spring of 2019.
Original story: Expansión (by Loreto Ruiz-Ocaña)
Translation: Carmel Drake