By Chris Graeme
LISBON CÂMARA has asked central government for permission to borrow a whopping 100 million euros to renovate three of the city’s run-down areas.
The cash-strapped municipal authority, which owes over 118 million euros in debts, needs the money to spruce up the traditional neighbourhoods of Castelo, Alfama and Mouraria, Boavista and Liberdade.
If the government gives the green light for the urban re-generation project the municipal authority will ask its bankers for a 100 million euro loan.
Central government, in line with câmara and local government finance legislation passed by the Portuguese parliament earlier in the year, had its spending limits effectively capped to stop them sliding into further debt.
The announcement for the proposed project was made by Lisbon Câmara President, Carmona Rodrigues after a lunch with the Associação Portuguesa de Promotores e Investidores Imbobiliários (APPII), the Portuguese association of property developers and investors.
The project, which has to be handed into central government by December 31, aims to renovate not only Castelo, Alfama and Mouraria, but also Padre Cruz, Boavista and Liberdade as well as further investment in Baixa Chiado.
Henrique Polignac de Barros, President of the association presented the mayor with eight proposals for the real estate industry in the city, which had “special relevance for the câmara’s urban re-generation plans.”
Polignac de Barros put forward the urban regeneration plan as a project of “municipal interest” given the extremely dilapidated and run-down nature of much of the city’s building infrastructure.
The Lisbon real estate investors have suggested the setting up of a special commission to study and grant licenses to new projects.
It also urged the câmara to rethink its municipal taxation policies. “We need to get people, particularly young people, back into the city centre” said Polignac de Barros referring to the fact that exorbitant rents and taxes prohibit most people from living in Lisbon city centre, resulting in the further degradation of the older buildings there.
The APPII also wants the câmara to reduce its Imposto Municipal sobre as Transmissões Onerosas de Imóveis (IMI), council property tax, create car parks in some buildings in historic neighbourhoods since “many people will only entertain the idea of moving into the centre of the city again if they have somewhere to park their cars.”
Carmona Rodrigues guaranteed that urban regeneration and refurbishment was top of the câmaras agenda and said it was one of the best ways of maintaining the city’s traditional and historic neighbourhoods. “Regeneration isn’t just about rebuilding, it’s about improving housing conditions, access to services while trying to preserve and maintain the city’s architectural heritage.
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