A worker with the air of a foreman answers that he doesn’t know if they are carrying out the most hectic works in Barcelona. “What I do know is that we are going at full speed, that we will meet the deadlines.” “We already have more than half done,” says another worker. “We are a barbarity of people working…”. “Sorry, I can’t stop, I have to…”.
Work on the new Eixample superblock is advancing so fast that this weekend one could already find citizens strolling through some of its incipient new sections on Consell de Cent street. In fact, one can already get an idea of what this side of the district will look like very soon. Surely the use of several very different pavements from the one shown in the virtual videos will unleash harsh confrontations on social networks between detractors and supporters of this controversial project. Sources from Mayor Ada Colau’s government confirm that these intense works, already halfway through, will meet the schedule: everything will be ready before the May elections.
Many complain that this project is not carried out in phases, like the ones on La Rambla and Via Laietana
And people will appreciate it, no doubt. Many wonder why they are in such a hurry, why the works are not carried out here in phases, as in the Rambla, the Meridiana, the Via Laietana –there the works will last for years in order to minimize their impact–… You enter in a bakery with a tasting service between Consell de Cent and Urgell asking how it is to live with so many noisy machines and they invite you to a coffee so you can listen to everyone. “They are going so badly that they have already left us without electricity a couple of times, a few hours each time – detail a woman and her son -, because they touched some cables that… and you call the City Council and they tell you to call the company ”. “And I get up at five in the morning –says the son–. There’s no way to take a nap like that.”
The works are carried out even some weekends. “Man, the works are a nuisance, that’s true,” intervenes a young man who is having a coffee, “but the result will be worth it, superblocks are a great invention!” “Look –a middle-aged man interrupts–, I have driven for more than 40 years and now with so many mandatory detours I don’t know how to get to my house”. This disparity of opinion on the suitability of superblocks is well reflected in the Ipsos survey published yesterday by The vanguard . “What bothers me the most is the noise and dust,” they say from the other side of the bar. Nobody wants to sit on the terrace. The fish restaurant across the street moved because it wasn’t worth working for so many months with so few tables”.
“It’s that older women no longer want to go out into the street –adds the greengrocer across the street, with a very frown–, not even to have a cup of coffee or to do the shopping, between the mudslides and the walkways they feel very insecure, they feel very insecure! these works will be my ruin! Do you know what happens? That the people who came, parked and did their shopping for the weekend in the tower no longer come, because they can’t park, and a lot of people prefer either to go to the Ninot or Sant Antoni markets, of course! They don’t even come close here! And whoever lives closer then makes the purchase online. Do you think you can get around here with a cart? Supermarkets are getting rich with all this! If it weren’t for the fact that I also serve wholesale, I would have had to close… fired my saleswomen. But come on, loading the van is a show, a horror. Is all this mess really necessary? Couldn’t they do things differently?
The carriers are perhaps the most exasperated. A couple of them, unloading a bunch of soda cans from a speeding van, grumble that they’ve run out of chamfers, now you either have to park far away or do it anyway anywhere. “And, well, taking things out at full speed… The truth is that with nonsense we are contaminating more than ever. We’ll see what happens once the works are finished, but in the meantime this is a drag. I am fed up, up to my nose ”.
And discomfort with the present and concern with the future spread as one advances between the fences of Consell de Cent. The Gayxample merchants regret that the Christmas campaign was not as profitable as they had hoped. Sales fell by a quarter. And unfortunately the situation has no sign of improving in the short term. “We will see how everything turns out. But for now this is all a bit gross. The garbage containers are super close to the facades. Mud, dry leaves, puddles everywhere, workers yelling all day, those things scare people away! He prefers to go to another part of the city.”
Municipal sources, however, defend this intense and tight calendar of just eight and a half months. “The difficulty of these works is less compared to others. In Via Laietana the works in the subsoil are more complex. In addition, here the works are also carried out in phases. The first is this, which contemplates the first four green axes. In total, it is planned to open 21 green axes and 21 squares. The current rhythm wants to avoid affectations as far as possible. The City Council deployed a device for information and citizen attention on the occasion of the start of these works. Since then there has been a decline in notifications. In summer, one quarantine was received, and in December, nine.
fear of gentrification
The ghost of the Orsola house flies over the new green axes
The ERC councilors want the government of Mayor Ada Colau to make use of the right of first refusal and retraction in order to prevent the opening of the new Eixample superblock from fueling the expulsion of its residents from the city, to prevent them from new cases such as the Orsola house, a modernist estate between Consell de Cent and Calàbria streets. Many of the tenants of this building and their new owners have been in a bitter conflict for more than a year, since the new owners took over the property and sent burofaxes to most of the neighbors to inform them that they would not renew their contracts. The tenants decided not to leave in any way and, like many neighborhood entities, they accuse the investors of wanting to throw them out to reform the flats, turn them into seasonal apartments and rent them at prices much higher than what they had been paying, of trying to take advantage of a public work such as the opening of this superblock to obtain huge private benefits. Mayor Colau has already sided with the tenants. And the new owners replied that the City Council was aware of the operation to purchase the property before it was carried out, that it had the opportunity to exercise the right of first refusal and retraction, which has already been done with other buildings in the city facing investments. more expensive. “Promoting transformations without anticipating negative externalities is irresponsible,” says Republican mayor Eva Baró. We have already seen significant increases in homes and premises in pacified areas. The municipal government is not doing anything to anticipate”. Many residents of Sant Antoni still remember the increases in their rents caused by the opening of the superblock in their neighborhood. Most of those increases did not occur before the works, nor during their development. In reality, the increase took place after the inauguration, little by little, as the contracts came to an end.