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Housing PPP proposes mixed reoccupation of central SP

05/04/2013 | 08h37
By Guilherme Soares Dias

The intersection of Ipiranga and São João avenues are a hallmark of the city of São Paulo. This area became the symbol of the city’s strength in the 60s and 70s - and inspired "Sampa", one of the most famous songs about São Paulo - but has given way today to a scenario of degradation and underuse of properties.


The area is one of the targets of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for the construction of 20,200 housing units. The project of the state government of São Paulo, in partnership with the city of São Paulo, is an attempt to bring new residents to the city center, which lost nearly 100,000 inhabitants in the last 30 years.


In addition to migration, the region has sheds, old abandoned factories, vacant lots and unoccupied buildings that will now become areas that will house, in the same space, retail and residences for low and middle income families. The reoccupation of the center is based on a model of "joint occupation". In addition to mixing retail and residence in the same building, families earning up to three minimum wages, and others up to 16 minimum wages, will share the same condominium.


This unique action is the first PPP for housing in the country, and will be implemented in a region that has received only 7,000 houses from the government in the last ten years. Coordinated by Casa Paulista, sponsoring agency of the state of social housing, the project will cost R$ 4.6 billion, of which R$ 2.6 billion will come from the private initiative, R$ 1.6 billion from the state government and R$ 404 million from the city of São Paulo.


The goal, according to the State Secretary for Housing, Silvio Torres, is to motivate the occupation of the center and induce other companies to invest in the surrounding buildings that will be constructed or renovated. "Soon the center will have new residents. We are encouraging the construction for low income residents, since other income levels can have access to the region," said the secretary.


The borough of Sé accounts for 17% of the jobs in São Paulo but only 3% of city residents, which justifies the "necessity of occupying” the region, says Torres. Most interventions will be made along existing rail lines in the region and large central avenues, which in the past housed factories. The housings will replace unoccupied, abandoned or underused spaces.

The municipal administration decided to support this housing PPP after the mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad (PT), archived the Nova Luz project, prepared by former mayor Gilberto Kassab (PSD), which intended to intervene in the region of Santa Efigenia through the creation of concession spaces for businesses.


The intervention area of the Nova Luz project was not part of the studies ordered by the state government for this PPP of housing, since that area would have been considered by the municipality’s project. The change must come in the public consultation period, when the new municipal administration will request the inclusion of the area, according to the Secretary of the Casa Paulista, Reinaldo Iapequino.


The project’s official announcement will be published in the upcoming weeks, but property expropriation will likely already be underway in order to accelerate the construction of new homes.


Thus, in October, when the government is expected to sign the contract with the winning firm, some of the works may already have been initiated. Under the bill, the property must be completed between two to six years. About 95% of the projects will be constructed in Special Zones of Social Interest (ZEIS), defined in the Master Plan prepared in 2002.

Today, the housing PPP will be discussed at Arq. Futuro, an architecture and urbanism forum that will count with the presence of the mayor of São Paulo and Governor Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB). "This project will be a milestone in the development of the state capital, a major step in building a diversified, democratic and inclusive city, and a model to be adapted and replicated in the country," says Marisa Moreira Salles, owner of publisher BEI, organizing institution of the event.


Of the 20,200 units planned, 12,500 are designed for those with gross monthly family income of up to six times the minimum wage (R$ 4,068). 2,000 units will be allocated to people who are already registered to work in the centre. The value of the benefit in this case should range from R$ 151 to R$ 302. The remaining units will be for households earning up to 16 minimum wages (R$ 10,800).


"Priority will be given to people who work downtown and live in other regions.  Following the policy of the master plan, we invest in homes where urban facilities are already present," affirmed Torres. Even with the most expensive land, housing investment in the center comes out three times cheaper than in peripheral regions, since the outlay to build new public facilities are much smaller.


For the municipal secretary of Urban Development, Fernando de Mello Franco, the main development force of the center is the repopulation process of the region, because other attempts to revitalize the center by creating "cultural anchors" such as Sala São Paulo, Pinacoteca Museum, and the Museu of Lingua Portuguesa, were not effective in changing the surroundings. "The main element of security is not the camera, nor the police, but the urban environment. For this reason we want to encourage the repopulation of downtown areas," affirmed the secretary. "The PPP may not be enough for the metropolis, but it is significant to the history of social housing. The model will be tested, and if it works there is a possibility to extend it."


The study by the Urbem institute was selected for the PPP. "It's a new equation, with the mix of residences in addition to the characteristic presence of retail in the center," explains the architect José Armênio Brito Cruz, who was part of the team that developed the project. He affirms that the model meets people’s demand to live in the center, and the need for the occupation of underutilized land. "It brings people back to the center. This new population will bring about changes, improvements to public facilities and reactivate retail," says Cruz.


For João Sette Whitaker, professor of architecture at USP and Mackenzie, the PPP is "better intentioned" than the Nova Luz project, but is bound to face problems. "The project faces land issues and is subject to the dynamic market," he says, citing one of the possible impediments to the implementation of the proposal.


Sette believes that the recovery of the central area is promised by a strategy that ensures retail and residential use for middle-income range. "This has never been done on a priority basis by the government," he said. According to the professor, however, the proposal still meets limited number of the low-income population. "The policy has to be as democratizing as possible and should include people with lower income," he says Of the 20,000 properties, about 3,200 will go to those earning up to three minimum wages , aside from the 2,000 affiliated to charities. "It's very little, since 40% of the population of São Paulo is in that range," he says.


The concept of having retail on the ground floor and residential use on the upper floors is also considered ideal for the region by Claudio Bernardes, president of Secovi-SP. "My concern is to use the center to address low-income housing. Revitalization of the region should occur within a broad spectrum, with different characteristics, considering income and leisure," says the executive.


The President of Secovi also states that the different income brackets have small level of approximation. "It's hard to mix salary range of up to three minimum wages with the highest standard in the same condominium. Individuals with lower incomes cannot pay for what people of higher income want."


Franco, Secretary of Urban Development, cites the Copan building built in the 50's, located in the center and designed by Oscar Niemeyer, which has 5000 residents and 1160 apartments, with sizes ranging from 26 square meters up to 219 meters squares. "Promoting this type of social mix is positive," he says. (Borges collaborated Robinson)

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