Democratic City

26/07/2017 - 14:19

Raising the shutters!

Commerce. Fourteen empty premises in Ciutat Vella will fill with local commerce via a public competition to combat gentrification and the commercial monoculture of bars, restaurants and leisure.

Fourteen municipal premises which are currently unused will be allocated for use by new local businesses via a public competition, the idea being to offset the economic monoculture of bars, restaurants and leisure and combat gentrification. Eight of the officially protected ground floor premises will be put to use this year, the most important consideration in the allocation procedure being the activity and uses planned for them.

The rules for the competition will distinguish between commercial activities which offer products and services needed by city residents, with five year concessions in the offing, and activities which benefit the economic and community development of neighbourhoods, with two year concessions with an option for a third year. The rent will be proportionate to the floor space for each premises and variable over the concession period, staying below market rates in all scenarios.

The First Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, affirmed: “We need to raise the shutters of neighbourhood premises in the city centre. It’s not right that Ciutat Vella lacks fish shops and ironmongers and that we’re not looking after bookshops or cultural initiatives”. Pisarello concluded: “By protecting commercial activity, we’re protecting community ties within the neighbourhoods”.

The Councillor for Ciutat Vella, Gala Pin, stressed that the priority is “to recover the combination of uses in ground floor commercial premises in our city”. Pin added: “Policies applied to date focused very much on who was going to occupy the premises and with this new measure what we’re focusing on is what the premises are to be used for”.

Besides the fourteen municipal premises identified and any other premises the City Council may acquire in the future, there are also plans to open up the initiative to twenty privately-owned premises which are currently unused. The owners will be contacted in order to secure their use and include them in a pool of officially protected ground floor premises, putting them in touch with businesses interested in reactivating the properties.

The measure, known as ‘Local local’, is part of the Economic Development Plan for Ciutat Vella, promoted by the District Office and Barcelona Activa.