The area that used to be the coolest in Buenos Aires adds new projects: how much does an apartment now cost?

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An iconic square in the heart of Buenos Aires underwent several changes after the pandemic. How is that area today, and what investments are being activated?

In the heart of Retiro, around a “green lung,” one of the oldest and most beautiful squares in Buenos Aires, architectural proposals were raised that made that area one of the most coveted for a long time.

The current layout of the square responds to various projects carried out by the Municipality of Buenos Aires, in which the renowned landscaper Carlos Thays made significant contributions. During the second English invasion in 1807, a battle was fought there. After the years in 1812, General San Martín installed the barracks of the Horse Grenadier Regiment there; hence, the place was later named after him.

The area is surrounded by buildings iconic of the city belonging to different periods, such as the Kavanagh, declared a World Heritage Site of Modern Architecture by UNESCO; the Peace Palace of the Military Circle and its recently built annexe; the Anchorena Palace, ceremonial headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Plaza San Martín Building, among others. A few meters from the place is the Estrugamou Palace and the elegant Arroyo Street, full of art galleries, design shops, restaurants, award-winning bars, embassies and the new five-star hotel of the Spanish chain Único Hotels.

Some emblematic places are also in the process of revitalization, such as the renowned Plaza Hotel. Opened in 1910, it closed its doors in 2017 to carry out an enhancement and plans to reopen in three or four years. Currently, it is reconditioning its old spaces and expanding others. The renovation plan includes the creation of a food hall inside the building, with gastronomic proposals, “as well as the development of an absolutely new wing, with 180 rooms and a sector of housing units, and the recovery and enhancement of all the party rooms that the hotel had,” he points out. Andrés Kalwill, director of the Alvear Group, the company that develops it, adds: “I am aware of the spillover effect that this undertaking is going to produce among all the neighbours.”

For its part, 100 meters from the Plaza Hotel and a few steps from the Kavanagh and the Paz Palace, another proposal is being proposed for revitalization, which was formerly a petit hotel. Located at San Martín 1137, this eclectic-style building stands. Originally built to be a personal residence and later transformed into offices, it will now be used mainly for the gastronomic and artistic sectors, among other uses.

Another project revitalising the area is located 200 meters from Plaza San Martín. Spot Studios is a mixed-use development with 14 floors and offers housing units, temporary rentals (part of a pull income) and offices. It is located near the Bellini Towers and has a delivery date of July 2024. “The area has buildings that have been converted for Airbnb. It is one of the places with the most recognized hotels, like the Sheraton,” says Carlos Medina, Red’s commercial manager, the developer building it. They still have to sell one unit, 48 m², in the order of US$2,500/m².

“The average value per m² for the apartments and mansions built around the Plaza de la Belle Époque ranges between US$2,000 and US$3,000,” says Martín Pinus, founder and director of Martín Pinus Real Estate. He also adds that the proposals for the emblematic Kavanagh are above US$3000/m², and some residences in other buildings may have varying prices.

Changes after the pandemic

After the confinement, given the proximity to the downtown area, the area “suffered the spillover effect of the vacancy of businesses and entire corporate buildings, which no longer had a reason to exist due to the arrival of the home office,” says Martín Pinus.

Many city people were captivated by the suburbs and the possibility of working from home and decided to move to towns like Pilar, Escobar or Canning. The boom of green motivated many families to move away from the centre and look for places in contact with nature: “Neighborhoods like Recoleta or Retiro, with large units that were common for families with two or three children, migrated to other areas,” says Tomás Seeber, a partner from RGM Real Estate.

The place has a no small aspect that made security an issue to consider. “The area is harmed by the excessive growth of Barrio 31, something that is having an impact on market values ​​in an area that historically was one of the most sought-after in the city,” says Germán Gómez Picasso, director of Real Estate Report.

Property values ​​were hit, although there is widespread hope that Argentine real estate prices will begin to rise. Values ​​in the city in the Plaza San Martín area “are low because, after the pandemic, the centre became a dirty word,” adds Diego Cazes, director of LJ Ramos.

Data from a Mercado Libre report show that in March 2024, apartment sales publication prices in the most relevant neighbourhoods increased, although compared to March of the previous year, only two are still down: Devoto (down 1.3%) and Retiro (down 2.6%; a neighbourhood where Plaza San Martín is located).

Green regrowth of the real estate market

After three years of decline, sales values ​​hit bottom in June of last year, when the square meter in the city of Buenos Aires reached US$2,151 on average, according to Zonaprop data. However, at a general level, the real estate market shows hope for recovery. There are positive signs of sales, more monthly operations, an increase in demand and a decrease in supply. “All of this is going to correct prices in the short term. We have been in a decline from 2019 until now. We arrive at historic apartments, and the only thing left to do is go up,” says Mateo García, residential director of Toribio Achával.

For his part, Cazes points out that “ now people realize that they can live in the city again; “It is a place with good means of transportation, interesting gastronomic spaces and other attractions.” The specific area of ​​Plaza San Martín, in addition, borders the perimeter of the Sustainable Urban Development Fund (Fodus), which includes San Juan, Entre Ríos, Callao, Santa Fe, Leandro N. Alem and Paseo Colón avenues, an area in which Banco Ciudad recently announced that it will offer credits mortgages with an interest rate of 3.5%, so far the lowest on the market. This line of credit accompanies the plan of the CABA Government, which aims to develop and invest in the Microcenter through housing incentives and tax benefits in strategic activities. “I think it is a great opportunity for this area; it will rejuvenate and be in great demand. This is not instantaneous; as the credits appear, I think it will accelerate a little,” explains García. For his part, Cazes believes that for those residential units located near Plaza San Martín, these credits can be taken especially for remodelling but not so much for acquiring a first or second home because they are part of a more premium market. Furthermore, “I still see the downtown area as very difficult,” says the broker.

Seeber explains that real estate is showing signs of improvement, although at a more incipient pace. Firstly, it points out that the number of writings shows a level of recovery since “last year’s amount was the best in the last five years, and January and February exceeded the same months of the previous year.” According to the monthly survey carried out by the Buenos Aires College of Notaries, in March, the real estate market registered a significant increase: it added 3,399 real estate purchase and sale deeds, 53% more than the previous month and 18.3% more compared to to to the level of a year before.

Returning to the Mercado Libre report, the figures show that the demand for houses and apartments for sale in AMBA in the first quarter of 2024 recovered 44% compared to the last quarter of 2023. “In other words, if we compare this quarter of the year (January to March) with the last quarter of 2023 (October to December), there was a recovery, 40% more visits to the publications of houses and apartments for sale,” says Pablo. Brener, Head of Marketplace Real Estate Argentina & Uruguay of Mercado Libre.

On the other hand, the observed oversupply of properties for sale is decreasing. Seeber and García agree that demand increased and supply decreased, which “drives the price up,” in Seeber’s words and adds: “All this added to the fact that the real estate “In Argentina is historically cheap and, compared to the region, it is very cheap.”

The cost of construction is another variable to consider in the analysis of the sector since “today, measured in dollars, higher values ​​are shown, with a lot of inflation, so the building is much more expensive,” explains Cazes and adds: “That makes all values ​​go up, whether brand new or used.” In concrete numbers, the cost of Construction measured in dollars increased again and accelerated in March. The revealing data is that it grew more than 80% in four months (December, January, February and March) when at the beginning of December, it was US$714/m².

Source: La Nacion ( AI Translation )

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